Shazam: Fury of the Gods – Review


Shazam: Fury of the Gods is the sequel to the previously successful Shazam movie, and also holds the title of being the second to last entry in the current incarnation of the DC extended universe; the series will be rebooted during the upcoming Flash movie, which has its own controversy.

Given the state of what has basically been DC’s attempt at Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, it’s hardly surprising that James Gunn has been brought in to steer the series in a new direction, and really at this point considering that Warner Brothers has no faith in any of these franchises, hitting the reset button seems to be ideal.

Shazam, however, did a lot better than anyone was expecting at the box office, and I think that that is mainly because of director David F. Sandberg, who returns to direct this movie, as well as the entire cast from the first – surprisingly this includes the villain of the first movie, Djimon Hounsou who plays the Wizard (strangely, the film doesn’t explain how he survived the events of the first movie).

The film takes place following the first movie, so obviously  there will be spoilers for the first one if you haven’t seen it. It surrounds the Shazam family in their new life as superheroes whilst also dealing with their own troubles- Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) has troubles at school, Mary (Grace Caroline Currey) is deciding whether she will go to college or not given that she wants to make friends her own age but she feels like she has to give back to her adoptive parents since they supported her past the point where they were receiving government payouts for her care. This also leads into another arc for Billy, who is once again played by Asher Angel and Zachary Levi when in Shazam form.

The threat this time comes from two of the daughters of Apollo, Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypse (Lucy Liu), who are trying to restore the staff that granted the Shazam family their power from the previous movie and use it to plant a golden seed from Greek mythology in order to resurrect their realm which could potentially do devastating damage if done on Earth.

In all fairness, the film does have a coherent plot, but its biggest error is the fact that the character motivations that are kind of all over the place. I’m not sure that this one inspires an audience as much as the original one did- the screening that I went to had quite a low-key audience.

Despite all of that, I think that this is a decent movie. It doesn’t quite succeed the first one mainly because the villains are weaker this time (no disrespect to Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu, who are fantastic actresses), but it’s kind of clear that Helen Mirren is perhaps not cast correctly. It’s also clear from the editing that she probably wasn’t doing too well with the stunt work considering that most of the fight scenes that she’s involved with feature very heavy editing- probably covering up for the fact that she wasn’t in many of the shots. I haven’t seen much behind-the-scenes footage or information, so that’s speculative, though.

I do also find it interesting that the dynamic of the Shazam family is kind of all over the place. Certain members get a lot more to do than others, whereas the last film felt a lot more like a group unit. I must be honest, I didn’t think that they would even bring in the Shazam family at the end of the last movie, but after seeing this movie, I’m glad that they did because it certainly gave more time for this film to be its own thing. I think that if they hadn’t we would be twiddling our thumbs up until the point that they became superheroes. It’s rather interesting the DC is putting a lot of emphasis on these characters in the movie universe considering that they haven’t really been used much in the comics in recent memory – I can’t even think when the last time that DC released a Shazam comic was.

What’s more, I kind of think that the powers on display here don’t lead to too many interesting fights. There are some cool ideas here, like Kalypso’s power of (basically) persuasion, which really reminded me of David Tennant’s power in Jessica Jones, but one of the more interesting effects for me came from another character that had warp-building powers, which reminded me of Doctor Strange. If anything, it’s kind of interesting that this film seems to borrow a lot from other superhero movies. It’s the first time in recent memory that I’ve been in the cinema and felt the superhero fatigue- I’m enjoying it but I’m wondering if there are any new ideas to come out of this genre anytime soon.

However, as a whole, I still enjoyed this film. I liked the characters and the fight scenes, when done well, are really good; there are some funny moments as well. I think Zachary Levi must have renegotiated his contract since he’s on-screen a lot more compared to the last one, and he has a decent performance in this movie, and the cast overall is full of good performances. I’m just wondering, given the ending of this movie, if there is a plan for the Shazam family and the rest of the characters to be in whatever James Gunn has in mind for the future of DC.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods is a good movie, I quite like it. Though, on a technical level, it’s just okay. I didn’t like it as much as the first movie, but I maintain that you can do a lot worse, and I think that the review scores that have come out for this film have been drastically overblown. I wouldn’t mind one more movie with this cast given that I’ve enjoyed both so far, but if they won’t be a part of the next phase of DC, this one was a fine exit.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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