After many delays, the Shazam! sequel, Fury of the Gods, is finally coming to cinemas.
At the end of the 2019 original, teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his superhero alter ego Shazam (Zachary Levi) used the wizard's magical staff to share his powers with his foster family before snapping it in two.
Now, Billy and his foster siblings can all transform into superheroes by saying the word "Shazam" and fight crime around Philadelphia as a team. There's Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody), Darla (Faithe Herman/Meagan Good), Eugene (Ian Chen/Ross Butler), Pedro (Jovan Armand/D.J. Cotrona) and Mary (Grace Fulton as both versions).
Remember that staff? Well, it's important. It turns out that the Daughters of Atlas – three gods named Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) – need it to resurrect their world and destroy Earth. Naturally, Shazam and his team must stop them!
The original Shazam! felt like a breath of fresh air. It was charming, light-hearted and smaller in scale compared to typical superhero movies - and this difference worked to its advantage.
Director David F. Sandberg has forgotten that this time around, as the sequel is just like (almost) every other superhero movie, with an unoriginal and messy plot, thin stereotypical characters, and awful CGI at times.
The first film felt like a superhero comedy and was so much fun, whereas this is very generic comic book fare. There are still moments of humour but they aren't funny or often enough to really make an impact and elevate the underwhelming plot.
There is always the assumption that sequels have to go bigger and that bigger equals better. This follow-up proves that this is not true. By upping the scale, the film loses its charming identity and there are so many characters that nobody gets enough to sink their teeth into.
The Daughters of Atlas are particularly disappointing as the villains. They are so stereotypical and uninspired and it's sad to see legends such as Mirren and Liu uttering such clichés. They are completely wasted.
Thankfully, Zegler gets a bit more to do as Anthea is sympathetic towards humans and forges a friendship with teenage Freddy. As a result, Zegler and Grazer stand out the most, as does Djimon Hounsou as the returning wizard.
You would expect the title character to be the star of the show but that is sadly not the case with Shazam. Levi tries his best but his motor-mouth speeches and quips just aren't as effective this time around.
It's a real shame that Sandberg hasn't preserved what made Shazam! so unique. By trying to be like the rest, it ends up being an unimaginative and underwhelming entry into the DCU.
In cinemas from Friday 17th March.