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Shazam! Fury of the Gods

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Photograph: Warner Bros.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

This chirpy DC comic-book sequel is more of the same – and that’s just super

Amid the self-conscious gloom of most of DC’s movies – Batman, Superman, Justice League – 2019’s Shazam was a welcome dose of light-hearted silliness. The story of Billy (Asher Angel), an orphaned boy who can turn into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) thanks to a magical gift, it was a zippy, Amblin-esque bit of wish-fulfilment fantasy.

This sequel is much the same deal. If it sometimes struggles to muster the same degree of wide-eyed excitement now that its characters are young adults, it mostly gets there with a strong cast, some witty gags and large quantities of unabashed enthusiasm.

Picking up some time after the last movie, Billy is now happily living with his foster family, but with his 18th birthday approaching he’s uncertain of where his future lies. For now, he’s living a normal teenage life while also secretly fighting crime with his foster siblings, who share his ability to transform into superheroes. Billy wants them to do everything together, but the others want to forge their own paths, both superhero and regular. Meanwhile, a pair of furious gods (Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu) have come to reclaim the power they believe Billy stole from them.

There’s a lot to wrangle here, with six heroes and multiple villains, and returning director David F Sandberg (Lights Out) does a commendable job of keeping things brisk and tangle-free. In a hefty cast, Jack Dylan Grazer stands out as teenage Freddy, who is gliding through adolescence like a duck through wet cement. 

Zachary Levi’s superhero is a perfect mix of Johnny Bravo and a golden retriever

And Levi again pitches his character just right, sort of a mix of Johnny Bravo and a golden retriever. The script by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgen (a veteran of the Fast & Furious series, so he knows a thing about balancing giant casts) focuses a lot of humour on the embarrassments of ageing, at all stages, from squeaky breaking voices to knees that crack too loudly for sneaking up on baddies. There’s something for everyone to mortifyingly relate to. 

As in the first film, the apparently necessary superhero movie stuff – convoluted villain plots, CG monsters, the burden of expectations – is the least fun part, getting in the way of the far more entertaining sibling squabbling. Sure, the final act is the sort of monster battle we’ve seen countless times, but Shazam! Fury of the Gods never loses the energy and easy laughs that makes this second-tier hero far more fun than a lot of his more famous colleagues.

In cinemas worldwide Fri Mar 17

Olly Richards
Written by
Olly Richards

Cast and crew

  • Director:David F. Sandberg
  • Screenwriter:Henry Gayden, Chris Morgen
  • Cast:
    • Zachary Levi
    • Jack Dylan Grazer
    • Rachel Zegler
    • Adam Brody
    • Helen Mirren
    • Asher Angel
    • Djimon Hounsou
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