Zachary Levi is back as Shazam. Photograph: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

A reporter addresses the teenage audience and this writer, who are invited to the invitational premiere for one reason or another, by telling that Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the sequel to Shazam! (2019), is better than the first one.

“I interviewed the director, David Sandberg, and at that time I was able to watch Shazam! Fury of the Gods as well,” he said in front of the audience.

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“I think it’s better than the first one,” he repeated and said it was now better that he stopped talking so that the film could begin.

In a nutshell, the shazam saga is about teenagers who get superpowers by reciting the magic word “Shazam!”

If that sounds familiar to Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, who is also shazamed by a wizard and gets his godlike powers that way, it is only because the two are connected in the DC Comics universe.

In contrast, though, Johnson’s saga of Black Adam is darker and grittier, and while he served as an executive producer on the first part, he reportedly refused to have anything to do with the sequel including a cameo for reasons too long to speculate in this review.

Black Adam and Shazam wear similar costumes including the lightning bolt that is embroidered on the chest, but the suits are of different colors, black and red. And while it was clear to this writer that Johnson did not use a muscle suit or CGI of any sort to get his superhero look, research revealed that Zachary Levi who plays Shazam, has devotedly spent hours in the gym pumping biceps to look the part.

Mostly, Shazam! Fury of the Gods manages to balance witty humor with intense action sequences. And when the jokes got drier, the teenage audience at the special screening caught them, too. 

The young, bright minds seemed to live the story with deep enthusiasm. Cheers were occasional. The characters, after all, are in their mid-teens as well.

But what would a superhero film be without some tough villains? This time, they are all females!

Helen Mirren plays Hespera, the daughter of god Atlas. Rachel Zegler plays her sister Anthea and the third sister, Kalypso, is portrayed by Lucy Liu.

This evil-ish triad lets the hell loose in an exciting way.

But can the teens in capes stop the mayhem the daughters of the god of endurance attempt to lay upon the world?

And is the sequel really better than the first one?

These questions, dear reader, are for you to find out.

‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ plays in cinemas now.

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