Plot: What’s it about?
While I have only seen it once during its run in theaters, I did enjoy Shazam. While not the greatest superhero film, or even the most interesting superhero himself, the film was a fun time at the movies. It didn’t take itself too seriously but had its heard in the right place and a worth adversary in Mark Strong as the villain. This sequel has a common problem that plagues many sequels and that’s that it wants to go bigger. This becomes a problem during its overly long and repetitive climax. I will get more into that later, but it does get some things right, even though our title character takes more of a backseat this time around. We’re given all too much here, but not enough heart and focus like the first film.
We catch up with Shazam (Zachary Levi) some years after the events of first film. As he closes in on 18, Shazam knows he will be aged out of the foster home, and he’s not ready for the change. We get the returning characters here such as Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer and Adam Brody), Eugene (Ross Butler and Ian Chen), Darla (Faith Herman and Meagan Good) as well as some others. We see an early action sequence in the form of a bridge collapse (how many times have we seen this scenario played out?) and it’s clear to Billy/Shazam that the team wants to venture off on their own and fly solo while he hopes to keep the team together. Some of these early moments are effective in that they rightfully progress our characters as a sequel should. It shows characters, older and faced with the inevitable changes of simply growing up. I liked that. It’s a lot of what follows that hurts the film. Hespera (Helen Mirren) shows up along with Kalypso (Lucy Lui). They want power restored to control humanity. We get a lot of focus this time on Freddy, who develops a crush on a new girl in school named Anthea (Rachel Zegler). They have some fun scenes together and nice chemistry, but the lack of focus given to Shazam in an odd choice here. Things eventually build to an all too hectic climax between the Gods and our heroes as they battle to save earth from their control. It just gets old before long. Stakes don’t feel high, humor feels forced and unnecessary and the film drags far longer than it should. One thing I appreciated about the recent Ant-Man film is that it didn’t overstay its welcome, keeping things under two hours. The destruction here just feels weightless before long. I hope the third film brings back the human element and keeps things more lean.
In what seems as if DC has taken a page from the Marvel playbook, the film throws endless jokes at the audience at what seems like every opportunity it gets. Some land. Some don’t. I wish that could be scaled back. The issues don’t stop there as the last half of the film feels like a never-ending climax. I was reminded a bit of Man of Steel (though there are countless examples) of characters being thrown left and right, buildings shattering and all kinds of destruction, but with what seems like no real stakes. There’s the feeling of redundancy after a while when there aren’t major consequences at play. Viewers should know there are two scenes post credits, so do wait all the way till the end should you choose to see this.
The Bottom Line
Plagued with too many characters and endless action sequences, Shazam! Fury of the Gods feels all too hollow. It isn’t without some redeeming qualities, but the things that made the first film so enjoyable, are sadly missing here. It’s stretched thin and the CGI and effects overpower the story. It needed to lose some of the humor as well as it often feels like it’s trying too hard.