Shazam! 2 Reviews Tease a Humorous, But Overstuffed DC Sequel

The first Shazam! presented fans with a much sunnier side of the DC Extended Universe than audiences were used to. And the film’s long-awaited sequel was also expected to deliver more of the same. With one day left until Shazam! Fury of the Gods opens for Thursday night previews, it’s time to take a closer look at what the critics’ reviews have to say about Shazam! 2 and Zachary Levi’s encore outing as Billy Batson.

Early social media reactions painted the new film as worthy successor to Shazam!, which opened to glowing reviews in 2019. But the full write-ups indicate that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Many critics once again applauded the franchise’s sense of humor along with some of the new additions to the cast. However, other reviews felt that there were way too many characters, some of whom seem to have yanked the spotlight away from the movie’s titular hero. You can check out a few highlights below.

DiscussingFilm’s Ben Rolph found the sequel to be “just as hilarious and endearing” as the original film, with lots of “twists and turns” that shouldn’t disappoint longtime DC fans. He also praised the “energetic humor” of the larger Shazamily and the introduction of the Daughters of Atlas (though he did call Lucy Liu’s Kalypso the “weakest link” of the bunch). At times, the movie’s attempts to outdo Shazam! don’t quite work out, and the visuals and CGI are occasionally underwhelming. But overall, he feels that Sandberg succeeds in juggling the “balancing act” resulting from the sequel’s expanded call sheet.  

Kyle Anderson of Nerdist was happy to see that Fury of the Gods retained Shazam!’s familiar charms. Surprisingly, Djimon Housou’s titular wizard and Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman make for a decent comedic pairing, and the former even gets “by far the best character arc in the movie.” But Billy/Shazam’s arc was less impressive, with Anderson calling him “more annoying” than he was the first time around. Meanwhile, the Daughters of Atlas “didn’t do much to play off of Billy’s insecurities.”

Writing for Deadline, Pete Hammond commended Sandberg and screenwriters Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan for their ability to “deftly navigate” the worlds of being a teenager and a superhero. He likewise compared Levi to Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man for being able to “inject comedy without sacrificing the heroic antics [his] role requires.” Regardless, the teenage versions of the Shazamily are more engaging than their adult counterparts. The ensuing blend of heart and humor even “bodes well for [the franchise’s] future in the uncertain DC Universe,” assuming it has a place there at all.

Awarding the sequel an 8.5 out of 10, /Film’s Jeff Ewing agreed that Billy’s story is “handled a little clumsily” this time. Still, he appreciated how the narrative raises the stakes while highlighting the flaws of its heroes. The film’s key strengths lie in its “strong performances, considerable imagination in its worldbuilding, colorful but often suitably intense comic book action, and humor that, by and large, really works.” In terms of the supporting players, Adam Brody and Meagan Good are “routinely note-perfect” as the adult Freddy and Darla Dudley, while Rachel Zegler is the most complex member of the Daughters of Atlas.

Skewing in more of a negative direction, ScreenCrush’s Matt Singer rated the film 4/10 and took aim at the fact that Asher Angel’s Billy shows up “so infrequently” that it becomes easy to forget his storyline. And his alter-ego’s lack of wisdom gets to be tedious after a while, making it seem like viewers are “just watching an immature dope in a cape” rather than a formidable superhero. Shazam’s fights with Helen Mirren’s Hespera are similarly underwhelming, because they are “so slathered in weightless CGI that it could be any two people punching each other.”

The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey writes that Fury of the Gods “isn’t without promise, but feels far too messy and corporatized to have any real affection for.” Additionally, the plot “routinely stalls so that characters can gather in dimly lit sets and rattle through as much exposition as they can.” Loughrey also roasted the filmmakers for setting many of the action scenes in “abandoned warehouses” despite the movie’s promise to explore new mythic worlds. In any case, fans can look forward to at least one “contractually obligated cameo plays out with the same insane bombast as a wrestling entrance.”

Katie Walsh of Tribune News Service was even harsher on Levi’s headlining performance, which propels the sequel “into the stratosphere of cringe.” As for the rest of the film, it’s “ugly, noisy and poorly written,” with “computer-generated imagery that looks straight out of a CW show.” Perhaps it was the latter criticism that led Walsh to liken the film to “a shoddily made Skittles ad masquerading as a superhero riff.”

In one of the most scathing reviews of all, Nick Schager cut right to the chase in his own headline for The Daily Beast, calling Fury of the Gods “so bad you’ll be begging for James Gunn’s DC reboot.” He claims that the film’s goofiness “extends not only to its lame humor but its convoluted and senseless plot,” and even went so far as to dismiss it as “the light-side equal” to Black Adam. A few other DCEU movies still need to hit theaters before WB’s reset kicks off in 2025, but in Schager’s view, Fury of the Gods doesn’t give fans much of a reason to get excited for what’s next—“Messy and mirthless, it resounds as the death knell for this interconnected cinematic enterprise’s current iteration.”

Shazam! Fury of the Gods hits theaters this Friday, March 17.

What do you think of these Shazam! 2 reviews? Let us know in the comment section below!

Recommended Reading: Shazam: The World’s Mightiest Vol. 1

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