With the release of 2019’s ‘Shazam!’, the dour and po-faced DCEU was given the lightning strike of irreverent fun and silliness it so desperately needed. A disarmingly sweet, wish-fulfilment fantasy, full of heart, humour, and charming performances, led by the perfectly cast Zachary Levi as the adolescent superhero in the body of a god-like being.
‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ picks up the action four years later. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his foster siblings are loving life as superheroes, though the citizens of Philadelphia have taken to calling them the Philly Fiascos due to the amount of damage they cause. Billy (aka Shazam) is trying desperately to keep them all together, but as they are growing older, some of them are wanting to do their own thing.
Before there’s any real chance to explore this idea, the Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu) turn up wanting to reclaim the power of the Gods that was stolen from them, and exact their revenge on the mortal realm while they’re at it. There’s a ton of dreary backstory and exposition to accompany this, but returning director David F. Sandberg thankfully keeps things as funny and as fast as possible.
Whilst it lacks some of the spark of originality from the first film, there’s enough goofy fun here to keep you entertained. The plot goes a bit awry at times, there’s way too much going on, and not all of it works, but even with all the silliness, Sandberg, and writers Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan have genuinely made us care about this misfit family. And it’s amazing what nonsense you’re willing to overlook when there’s a strong enough emotional thread holding it all together.
The big-name additions to the cast are a lot of fun. Helen Mirren brings gravitas and “menace” to proceedings, whilst Lucy Liu plays it straight as the more vengeful daughter of Atlas. Rachel Zegler shows once again that she is the real deal, with a ridiculously charming performance as the new girl at school. But once again, it is Levi that steals the show as the manchild superhero at the centre of all this madness.
Yes, the criticism about Billy and Shazam appearing to have completely different personalities is valid. I know it has been levelled at both films, and people are probably sick of hearing it, but it is a fact that Asher Angel and Zachary Levi play their roles on a totally different register. However, I really don’t think it matters. There are far more confusing things going on in this film than a bit of performance consistency. With the recent reshuffle of all things at DC, this is probably the last time we’ll get to see these characters. May as well just sit back and enjoy it.
The disc comes with a fairly standard, but comprehensive set of press kit style bonus features. The first of which is ‘Rock of Eternity Decked Out’ – a 5-minute clip about the main superhero lair, and the work that the production designers and set decorators did to update the ominous location from the first film.
‘Shazamily Reunion’ focuses on the original cast returning for the sequel. ‘The Zac Effect’ is a short featurette with the cast and crew waxing lyrical about their leading man. ‘Sisterhood of Villains’ is a clip all about the Daughters of Atlas, their characters, and the actors portraying them.
‘Scene Deconstruction’ has director David F. Sandberg breaking down five of the main sequences of the film. This is followed by a short clip focusing on the mythology of Shazam. Then we’re down to the three main events in the special features: 30-minutes of deleted scenes, a director commentary, and a 25-minute behind the scenes featurette about the making of the film.
Cast: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu Director: David F. Sandberg Writer: Henry Gayden & Chris Morgan Released By: Warner Bros Home Entertainment Certificate: 12 Duration: 130 mins Release Date: 5th June 2023