Warner Bros. Pictures’ latest epic DC superhero flick is out – Shazam! Fury of the Gods – the sequel to the criminally underrated Shazam! (2019). After an unfortunate run of box office failures over the past few years, Warner Bros. is hoping to recapture the magic of the first Shazam! film to give themselves a much needed win.
This time around Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his super-powered foster siblings are struggling to balance their ordinary lives with their superhero ones. The Shazamily! are barely keeping it together when they are invaded by three Greek deities who are here to reclaim ancient magic that was stolen from them centuries ago. This forces the Shazamily! into action to protect their abilities and the fate of humanity.
I was a huge fan of the original back in 2019. In my opinion the film was the perfect blend of heart, wit and action. Even to this day it’s still one of my most rewatched superhero movies. I was glad to see director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) return, along with the original Shazam! writer (Henry Gayden), and a newcomer to the franchise – Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw). Even after some recent, less than stellar, entries in the disjointed DCEU, my hopes for this film were still at an all-time high.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, though the film still manages to get a lot of things right. The heart and charm of the first Shazam! is here in bucketloads and the humour is still on point. The movie attempts to up the stakes and create a more epic adventure than the first instalment, but that ultimately leads to its downfall; as the final act is so bloated and long-winded that it drags the rest of the film down with it.
The highlight of these films was always the fun; childhood fantasy fulfilment with a cast of actors who are perfect for their roles. I’m glad to report the entire Shazamily! are just as endearing and delightful as they were in the first film. It is a shame though, that this time around some of the kids are quite noticeably forced to take a backseat as the film tries to not only balance such a large cast of characters, but establish three new villains as well.
The film’s antagonists, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. Mirren and Zegler are fantastic and both of them bring their ‘A’ game. Mirren is incredibly menacing and plays the evil Goddess of Elements with ease. Zegler’s Anthea is surprisingly well rounded, her inner conflict adds some real dimension to her character. Unfortunately, this can’t be said for Lucy Liu’s Kalypso. She is as generic as they get. Liu’s acting is incredibly wooden, and easily the weakest sister in the trio – which is unfortunate, as she is given a large role in the later half of the film.
As for the returning cast – Zachary Levi (Shazam) is still a lovable goofball whose dorky jokes, while not always funny, do bring the iconic playfulness to the character. Levi gets some great character moments as Billy Batson has to deal with the notion of growing up and not clinging onto the past. The stand-out for me though, was Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman. He was a great asset to the first film, but truly steals the show this time with his comedic timing, and I’m glad we get to spend a considerable amount of the film’s runtime with him. Another large amount of screentime is allocated to Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond), who is also brilliant in this film. He’s an unlikely comedic powerhouse and is great at playing off the kids’ shenanigans as the old, bitter Wizard.
The major disappointment of this film was the final act. It feels like the behind the camera talent were given a studio note that read, “make sure the final act has a big, epic CGI, world-ending fight scene”. Act 3 manages to undo all the good the first two thirds were building towards – it’s a generic CGI fight scene with tedious action that drags the film past the 2 hour mark. The other element that was noticeably off was the CGI itself. It was super inconsistent – there were countless times throughout the film when the flying looked wonky, and almost everything had a weightlessness to it which really took me out of it.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is still a great time for the whole family with plenty of laughs to keep everyone entertained, but unfortunately lightning doesn’t strike twice for Warner Bros. as the film is somewhat forgettable – and has a final act that doesn’t land.