“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” gives a lightning-bolt-shaped exclamation level on the belief this comedic superhero franchise was, actually, a one-trick pony – advantageous for a playful origin story, with out sufficient voltage for an encore. Every part that labored within the unique works much less nicely on this so-so sequel, blunting even the star energy emitted by its high-profile villains.

None of this could actually come as a shock, for the reason that principal attract of the 2019 introduction to the character concerned watching teenage Billy Batson (Asher Angel) remodel right into a muscular superhero (Zachary Levi) and expertise “Large”-like exultation in discovering and exploring his powers, helped by the first-in-line-at-Comedian-Con information of his foster brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer).

After all, by the tip of that film all of the foster youngsters had attained comparable skills, which is the place “Fury of the Gods” begins, with Billy wracked by concern of abandonment about turning 18 and being pressured to enterprise out on his personal.

Such earthbound issues, nonetheless, nearly instantly give option to a extra existential menace, because the daughters of Atlas invade the Earth, armed with a magical employees and decided to reclaim their misplaced realm irrespective of what number of background actors should run fleeing for his or her lives with a view to accomplish that goal.

The daughters embrace Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu, who carry seriousness and gravitas to their interactions with Billy/Captain Whoever (the shortage of a proper superhero identify stays a operating gag), who Levi delights in investing with a sheer goofiness that – like the whole lot else right here – merely yields diminishing returns.

Rachel Zegler (“West Facet Story”) is the opposite key addition, as a brand new pupil who catches the shy and awkward Freddy’s admiring eye.

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Loads of pyrotechnics ensue, together with an assortment of incredible creatures and a not-bad-looking dragon that units up an acceptable “Recreation of Thrones” joke. But with out giving something away, the 2 closing-credit sequences nearly completely sum up how the film falls flat, with every feeling too cute for its personal good in barely alternative ways.

Once more directed by David F. Sandberg, from a script by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan, the movie reveals the identical affection for the comics and all issues pertaining to the DC universe as its predecessor. The within materials features a lightning-quick cameo by Michael Grey, who performed Billy within the Seventies Saturday-morning TV present.

That stated, it seems like DC has milked this explicit franchise (which the corporate licensed from Fawcett Publications within the Seventies, after years of litigation between them) for greater than it’s value, together with the choice to present the antihero Black Adam his personal stand-alone film.

Mirren clearly isn’t a snob about selecting roles lately, mixing in pop-culture staples just like the “Quick & Livid” sequence along with her extra Dame-like endeavors. Even so, it’s simple to deduce a second which means when her character shoots the smart-alecky hero a steely look and sneers, “You’re losing my time.”

Whereas that’s a harsh appraisal, when you get previous the smoke and lightning it’s not an unfair one for a film that strikes quick however isn’t significantly “Fury”-ous.

“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” premieres March 17 in US theaters. It’s rated PG-13 and is being launched by Warner Bros., like CNN, a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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