Shazam! Fury of the Gods – Movie Review
If there was one thing Shazam! Fury of the Gods has working in its favour, it’s that its successor was one of the best DCEU movies made so far.
Right out the gate, the sequel to 2019’s Shazam! benefits from having several key components, such as a very likeable cast of characters and a more comedic approach to superhero storytelling in line with its core premise, already in place.
Thank goodness this is the case as the film sits in the shadow of uncertainty that hangs over the entire DCEU, one that continues to grow as we get closer to the release date of The Flash.
But in the meanwhile, Fury of the Gods relegates itself to its initial ambitions and the result is a family-friendly superhero comedy that everyone can get behind and enjoy. It has its niggles such as an overlong runtime and spotty VFX, and it ultimately doesn’t add anything new to its genre, but they are not enough to offset a pleasant time at the movies.
17-year-old Billy Batson (played once again by Asher Angel) aka the eponymous god-like saviour Shazam (Zachary Levi), is doing his level best to keep both his foster and superhero families together.
His siblings, most notably his brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Glazer) are contemplating their individual lives beyond the superhero antics, while he is concerned about his place in a household he’s about to age out of. All that comes into focus as Batson is confronted by the Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler) who seek to take his power from him and threaten the world as they know it.
Aided by those he loves and the Wizard (Djimon Dounsou) who first granted him his gift, it’s up to Shazam to save the day and protect what matters most.
A happy reunion
Family dynamics were always Shazam’s biggest strength. Just like its predecessor, Fury of the Gods succeeds in putting the Shazam family front and centre, entwining the central conflict with themes of familial bonding and how we confront individual needs and ambitions beyond established units.
Batson faces a struggle that’s very real to teenagers while also having to shoulder a responsibility that he, very understandably, still finds incredibly daunting.
The film’s characters continue to be very relatable and pleasant to be around. The ensemble has good chemistry and we spend a lot of time with them as they navigate the existential threat that the Daughters of Atlas pose.
The comedy is rooted in their interactions with each other and the villains and it has a lot going for it.
Even though Zachary Levi’s performance is too exaggerated. One cannot imagine this is how manic a 17-year-old living in a grown man’s body would act. But everyone else is doing a fine job, especially Helen Mirren whose contempt for the main character feeds into a perception that she thinks she is above all of this material.
One would never know, but it’s a net positive regardless.
Those bad apples…
For all its grandstanding and the epic nature of the plot, Fury of the Gods didn’t need to be over two hours. The cause is a handful of action scenes that do little to further the story, the removal of which would have gone a long way to up the stakes of an already shaky third act.
The act delivers a satisfying conclusion but the way it reaches that conclusion is a touch contrived (not to mention the very awkward cameo it involves). Nevertheless, given the current state and potential fate of the extended universe, I am glad the film ends in the manner it does.
Maybe it’s because we’re living in a post-Avatar world once again that this is more noticeable than usual, but Fury of the Gods is also hampered by questionable visual effects.
Scenes of destruction have little weight to them owing to the fake-looking assets, particularly when it comes to those involving entire cityscapes or large structures. Thinking back to CGI-heavy, showstopper moments like the final battles in Man of Steel or James Gunn’s Suicide Squad, Shazam feels like a detraction.
The rest of the film’s elements, including Christophe Beck’s musical score, get a solid pass.
What it’s all about
While 2019’s Shazam could be considered a more cohesive and endearing experience, there’s no denying its sequel is a lot of fun and builds on the strong foundations left behind.
It has a sense of humour and focuses more on the jokes and less on the drama, which is a good thing. It has a good atmosphere, great relationships and even a few dark moments (seriously, the deaths in this movie are very unnerving!), all packaged in a product that aims to entertain and appeal to everyone. Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a fun time.
In the grand scheme of things – and bear in mind, the DCEU is trying its damndest to be grand – That’s all it needed to be.
Despite it being a victim of cinematic circumstance, Shazam! Fury of the Gods leans into the things that made it great to begin with. Good performances and excellent character dynamics offset the technical shortcomings and deliver an experience any family can get behind.