Billy Batson and his foster siblings protect Philadelphia with the powers that give them the strength of the gods, but soon the daughters of Atlas arrive seeking revenge for the stealing of their family’s magic ages ago, and declare war on the Shazam family and the human world.
Shazam! remains one of the best films in DC’s current shared movie universe, and Fury of the Gods brings forward everything that worked about the first movie, while expanding on the family dynamic. It’s very entertaining to watch as all the siblings are now superpowered and how it affects their interactions and characters moving forward, as the siblings who weren’t Billy and Freddy were much more minor characters in the first film. The movie also retains the same sweet, heartwarming energy that makes the Shazam saga irreverent, touching and harmlessly entertaining. The action is more in line with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man films than something as world-ending and grim as Justice League — though sometimes the world as still at stake. Zachary Levi’s charisma and natural sense of humor shines again, though it’s way more interesting to see him on screen than Asher Angel. However, Billy is a formidable hero who’s selfless, kind, and even clumsy. However, Jack Dylan Grazer and Adam Brody shine equally as Freddy. Grace Caroline Culley also stands out as both the normal and superpowered Mary, as well as Rachel Zegler, who continues to take the world by storm after West Side Story. Though Helen Mirren is incredibly entertaining as a villain, Lucy Liu’s performance is occasionally eyebrow-raising and questionable.
The visual effects also have some moments that could have used polishing, including the creatures or large set pieces, but overall most of the sets fit the Sunday-cartoon-like vibe that Shazam has always been aiming for. Not to mention, the humor is easily as memorable as the first, though the themes aren’t so as much as Billy and Freddy’s bonding in the first movie. There’s also a few scenes with Djimon Honsou that are funny but the least interesting parts of the movie. However, Shazam!Fury of the Gods gives viewers everything they signed up for while making them laugh and smile at the screen.
The legendary Clades are a family of explorers whose differences threaten to topple their latest and most crucial mission.
Strange World is incredibly visually vibrant, which is never an aspect Disney misses in, not to mention director Don Hall’s outstanding track record at Disney in the past with Big Hero 6 and Raya and the Last Dragon. The imaginative color palette in the titular world the Clade family journeys through is engaging and surprising, even when the story material feels a little hollow. Jake Gyllenhaal is perfect as the lead role Searcher Clade, and it feels long overdue for him to join the Disney animation family. His voice has an incredible likability and he delivers the balance between “frustrating (but devoted) dad”, “frustrated/traumatized son” and “reluctant adventurer” really well. Dennis Quaid, Jakoubie Young-White, and Gabrielle Union are all having plenty of fun in the recording booths as well as a dysfunctional family that all want to just get along and enjoy each other’s company, though the grandpa and legendary explorer Jaegar Clade (voiced by Quaid) has other priorities and is overly consumed with his duties to his pride and explorations. Though the style is always visually inviting, the substance behind the conflict doesn’t always click until the end, and the characters’ relationships are way more interesting than the action itself. The style believes it’s being very nostalgic, presenting itself as a tribute to pulp magazines, but it actually looks and feels very modern. Though the film is quite heartfelt due to the characters it develops, the actual themes of familial expectations have been done plenty in recent animated films, most notably in Encanto and Turning Red that are still fresh in all our memories. There are instances where it tries to even become self-aware of the cliches its indulging in, which simply makes it even more awkward. On the positive side, the movie has Disney’s most prominent representation of an LGBTQ main character in one of their animated films, which is a celebratory step forward for family films on the big screen. Gyllenhaal’s voice performance is outstanding, backed by heartfelt supporting characters, and the animation gives the film lots of energy, but not enough to rank it among other adventures from the modern era of the studio like Zootopia or Wreck-It Ralph, though it’s still sweet and a decent one-time watch for families.