Shazam! Fury of the Gods Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Bigger monsters, more action, less story. The sequel to Billy Batson’s superhero shenanigans, losses a lot of the original’s charm.
Genre: Action / Comedy / Fantasy
Director: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Zachery Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Rachel Zegler, Lucy Liu, Grace Caroline Currey, Meagan Good, Ross Butler, Ian Chen, Faithe Herman, Jovan Armand, Djimon Hounsou & Helen Mirren.
Run Time: 130 min.
US Release: 17 March 2023
UK Release: 17 March 2023
German Release: 16 March 2023
With the reboot of the DCEU imminent, the future of this superhero uncertain, and the promotional material not sparking a lot of intrigue, this sequel to the first Shazam! wasn’t really high on my list. In fact, according to the empty screening room I was sitting in, many others seem to share my feelings towards this blockbuster. A shame, because as I left the theatre, I thought this hadn’t been all that bad. Yes, it is a step down from its fun predecessor, but it still knows to entertain. The failure at the box office can only be attributed to the mismanagement at Warner Bros!
Two years after teenager Billy Batson’s superhero ego Shazam defeated Sivana, the daughters of the Titan Atlas appear on Earth, seeking vengeance against those who stole their siblings' powers. The “Shazamily” soon finds that the goddess's powers, outmatch theirs.
With the success of 2019's Shazam! the continuation was fast announced by the studio, hiring writer Henry Guyden to return to pen the script, plus announcing that the director and producer are expected to return as well. Development on the follow-up moved fast, with a shooting start planned in mid-2020. Due to the outbreak of the COVID-pandemic, filming stalled, with release dates having been shifted several times throughout the last two years. Finally, the announcement of DC’s Cinematic Universe reboot left future projects for this superhero in question.
With all that in mind, there was a lot at stake for this production. Thus, it doesn’t help that the screenplay is a major step down from its predecessor. Suffering from typical sequel syndromes, the family aspect that was the emotional core of the first flick is buried underneath additional jokes, more action, and bigger monsters. Granted, it still has that charming family feel but it feels like a forced afterthought. A shame, because the plot is most engaging when the protagonists are not in superhero mode, which is shockingly little.
Nonetheless, it does have its entertaining moments, such as when the siblings try to come together as a team when saving the city, or juggling their private life with that of their secret identities. A further positive point is the fact that the new threat to the “Shazamily”, arose due to something done at the end of the last picture. The villains, however, are once again pretty generic.
The dialogue includes more humour, mixing fast-quipped jests, with clumsy foolishness and teenage naivety. Unfortunately, only a handful of the jokes do stick the landing.
As stated before, the emotional focal point of the story comes when the characters are in their child forms, not their adult superhero counterparts. Sadly, it was decided to focus mostly on the latter, which is especially true for Billy Batson, who is barely on screen.
Asher Angel/Zachary Levi return to play Billy Batson, a.k.a. Shazam. Levi brings back his charming, child-like acting, while Angel is pretty much sidelines, obtaining only a handful of scenes. A shame, as it is Batson as a child, who hammers home the point that the character is afraid of being left alone, as the family is most important to him. Yes, Levi is the one who expresses it verbally at the beginning, yet the subject is not made tangible due to his joking nature.
Jack Dylan Grazer is back as Freddy Freeman, replacing Asher Angel, as the heart and soul of the entry premise. He was likeable, quippy, proving how talented an actor he is. Freddy himself is simply enjoying his new powers, which heal his disability. Adam Brody, as his adult counterpart, is fun to see again.
Rachel Zegler was cast to portray the youngest of the three villainous sisters Anthea, though she ain’t really a villain as such. Anthea is the one “antagonist” who is fleshed out the most, while her sisters come off as one-dimensional. This is especially true of Lucy Liu’s Kalypso, who ultimately determines the path of the narrative. Helen Mirren is great as Hespera, however, the character is written weakly.
Being a superhero family film, it is also somewhat disappointing to see that not all of Batson’s adopted siblings get to shine. A lot of focus is given to Darla, the youngest and most naive, to create cute moments, yet someone like Pedro who comes out with big news, as well as Eugene who is the brainy, get barely any screen time.
Cinematographically, this blockbuster looks rather dull, feeling too overstuffed plus incoherent. The colour palette has been dialled down, in comparison to its predecessor, the action sequences are handled ungracefully. Worst is the aggressively digital look, overloaded with CGI set designs or creatures that distract heavily from the main plot. Having said that, the computer effects are not all bad, with some of the mythological creatures' designs looking fresh. Illumination can be at times a little over-lit
Christophe Beck replaced Benjamin Wallfish as composer, since the latter was unable to return due to scheduling conflicts. The music is too overblown plus manipulative, giving away too early what is going to happen.
Verdict: While it wasn’t on my most anticipated list, I was still intrigued as to how Billy Batson’s story would continue. Sadly this follow-up is more show than tell. Though the narrative includes minor happenings from the first Shazam! to have major consequences in this movie, it buries the sentimental drama underneath bigger effects and action. As such, the family plot point that was the main hook in the forerunner, is mainly lost here. The villains are bland, written as shallow deities out for revenge. This is especially true of Lucy Liu’s Kalypso, who has no real personality except being evil. A grave error is also that the narrative focuses largely on the adult superhero personas, instead of the children behind those characters. Finally, the music and camera work are a mixed bag, with the latter overblowing it with CGI. Shazam! Fury of the Gods isn’t terrible, it is simply a fun, forgettable action blockbuster worth a 6.0 out of 10.
Did you go see Fury of the Gods? If not, are you planning to? Leave a comment in the section below & as always, thank you for reading!