Shazam! Fury of the Gods Review: A Lovable Return From DC's Most Light-Hearted Heroes

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is hitting theaters this weekend, and thanks to the recent changes made by DC Studios, fans are finding it hard to get excited about the new sequel. The franchise is going in a different direction, which leaves folks with some major questions. Does the new Shazam! even matter? Will we ever see these characters again? While it's reasonable to have these worries, we're here to tell you that Shazam! Fury of the Gods is worth watching no matter what the future holds. While Shazam! Fury of the Gods isn't exactly reinventing the wheel, it's an adorable movie with a lot of heart that is sure to satisfy the whole family. If you enjoyed the Shazamily the first time around, you will not be disappointed.

Two years after gaining their powers, the Shazamily kids are living a double life. They are regular kids by day but use their Shazam powers to grow into adults and fight crime by night, which results in mixed reactions from the city of Philadelphia. The team means well, but they are still a group of children, which can lead to some unsuccessful outcomes. As tension rises within the group, Billy Batson (Zachary Levi/Asher Angel) does his best to keep everyone together, but the heroes face their biggest challenge yet when the vengeful daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler) come to seek out the magic that was stolen from them long ago. 

While the story of Shazam! Fury of the Gods feels more rushed than its predecessor, the presence of the daughters of Atlas adds a compelling new element. Hespera (Mirren) and Kalypso (Liu) are a dynamic duo who are both menacing and cool. They have a killer entrance that will leave you terrified (in a kids' movie story of way), but they keep you on your toes as their mission continues to change and they start to butt heads with their younger sister, Anthea (Zegler). The villains are definitely a highlight of the film, which isn't exactly surprising. You can't really have a bad time watching Lucy Liu ride a dragon made of wood around Philly. 

Speaking of the movie's dragon, Shazam! Fury of the Gods looks surprisingly good. There are a lot of CGI creatures, much like in the first film, which is always a risky move. Considering this movie had nearly half the budget of a certain recent Marvel threequel, it's astounding how much better it looks than the Marvel film in question. It's clear director David F. Sandberg put a lot of care into making the movie feel as real as possible even with all of the mystical elements. However, it's not the effects that make Shazam! Fury of the Gods worth watching, it's the Shazamily...

Both the younger and older versions of the Shazamily create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The found family premise is inherently emotional, so it's easy to get into your feels while watching these children look out for each other. The kids' foster parents, Rosa (Marta Milans) and Victor (Cooper Andrews), are also extremely lovable and keep the movie grounded in a heartwarming way. There are plenty of moments that have the potential to make you weepy, but don't worry, there are still laughs to be had. DC movies tend to be dark and gritty like The Batman, and when they are more silly and fun, they're usually for mature audiences like The Suicide Squad. While there are obviously exceptions, Shazam! and Shazam! Fury of the Gods stand out as being the most family-friendly comic book films, which makes them charming entries to the DCEU. 

Shazam! Fury of the Gods was written by Chris Morgan and Henry Gayden, who also wrote the first film. Admittedly, the sequel does not have as strong of a script as the first outing. The jokes aren't quite as punchy and the story could have used a little more time to breathe. For example, the relationship between Anthea and Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) feels a bit forced. Their storyline is basically an insert to justify giving Freddy more to do (which is understandable since both Grazer and Adam Brody are dynamite at embodying Freddy). Considering the excitement surrounding Zegler's comic book movie debut, her big moments left something to be desired. However, Anthea and Freddy are an undeniably cute duo, so we hope there will be a future project that gives them more time together. 

Shazam! Fury of the Gods includes two post-credit scenes that tease exciting things for Shazam's future. However, it's hard to know if there will actually be any follow-through. The current state of the DCEU is in flux, so it's unclear if fans will be seeing the Shazamily again. New DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Pater Safran recently introduced the first projects in their rebooted shared cinematic universe, and some of the main heroes from the franchise will not be returning. While this will probably be better in the long run, it is frustrating to watch cliffhangers when they might be meaningless. We already know the Black Adam post-credit scene isn't leading anywhere, so it's hard to know how to react to Shazam! Fury of the Gods' ending. Without giving anything away, the scenes will rouse fans who want to see more of a connection between the recent DC projects, but there's a good chance it could just lead to disappointment. 

Speaking of disappointment, one of the movie's best moments was spoiled in a TV spot last week. If you've managed to avoid the spoiler, we recommend not seeking it out, because the surprise will enhance the experience. This is becoming a continued theme in promoting comic book films. Last year, it was revealed that Hayley Atwell and Lashana Lynch were in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness less than two weeks before the movie's release. It's maddening that studios are using their movie's surprises in the final push to get butts in seats, and it's affecting fans' enjoyment of the films. Thankfully, I went into Shazam! Fury of the Gods without any knowledge of the movie's biggest cameo, which made it all the more fun.  

Overall, Shazam! Fury of the Gods isn't the most unique or action-packed comic book movie out there. You certainly won't leave the theater a changed DC fan, but you will leave with a smile on your face. If you can look past the uncertainty of the Shazamily's future, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a delightful ride and a worthy follow-up to the first film. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

(Photo: Warner Bros. )

Shazam! Fury of the Gods opens in theaters on March 17th.