Shazam! Fury Of The Gods


There surely hasn’t been a more turbulent time in comic book movies since it entered a new age of prosperity the year The Dark Knight and Iron Man were both released onto an adoring public. Since then, after the genre arguably peaked with the licence to print money known as Avengers: Endgame, it’s seemed like bubble might finally be set to burst with Marvel’s Phase 4 and Ant-Man’s third adventure being heavily divisive and DC fans being treated to an extended universe that never quite found cohesion.
Into this maelstrom of uncertainty flies Shazam! Fury Of The Gods, the sequel to the DCEU’s most charming movie that sees Billy Batson and his adopted family tackle yet greater foes with their magical abilities.
However, as Shazam battles the Daughters of Atlas while laying a sweet right cross to the jawline of a dragon, is he able to pull of a more impressive feat: that of producing a movie that manages to slow the continued debates that assaults the very genre in which he whizzes about in?


It’s been two years since a mystical and grouchy wizard bestowed the magical powers of the Gods onto messed up Billy Batson as he negotiated the foster home programme and after sharing his abilities with his adopted siblings, they’ve had mixed results as a superhero team.
But while Billy tries to keep his family together due to his abandonment issues kicking in, they all have their own lives to lead, much like crippled, superhero nut Freddy who understandably revels in his ability to transform into a heroic stack of super fast muscles.
However, trouble is brewing in the form of the vengeful Daughters Of Atlas who wish to get even for the stealing of their Titan father’s powers in order to supply the chosen champion with the power of Shazam and have been freed thanks to our hero breaking a magical staff in a throwaway moment in the original film. Encasing Philadelphia in a magic bubble (I guess they saw the Simpsons Movie while trapped for a millenia in their world) and draining Freddy of his superpowers, the daughters bicker among themselves about exactly how they should go from here. Eldest sister Hespera wishes to heal their kingdom while typical middle child Kalypso wants to regrow the Tree Of Life on earth, thus damning humans to destruction – however, youngest Anthea feels pity for us after bonding with Freddy and as their disagreements give our heroes an opening, Billy has to show his true chops as a leader if he’s ever going to hope to save the city.
Can Billy and his super siblings win this war of squabbling families with such high stakes on the table, or will his childish goofiness cost him everything in the time it takes to yell his magic word.


In an extended universe full of more dark, violent, comic heroes than the entirety of the comic book output of the nineties, Shazam! stood out as a ridiculously charming, light hearted adventure much in the same vein as the MCU’s Spider-Man movies. Bright, colourful and not afraid to fully embrace its kid-friendly roots, it felt like the tights, flights and fights equivalent of those body swap movies of the 80’s like Big and nicely poked a bit of meta fun at the expense of the more harsher aspects of the DCEU. However, even though the sequel goes bigger (quite notably so, in fact) it loses some of that endearing charm that made the original such a refreshing experience.
There’s many pieces to Shazam! Fury Of The Gods that work, but the movie often feels too crammed with content for it’s own good. Not only to we have to now keep track of the super family in not one, but two forms each, but we also have the trio of Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler as the trio of villains who frequently disagree about the methods of their revenge and who constantly flip sides as the film goes on. It’s a lot to keep track of and returning director David F. Sandberg does well to keep all these moving parts in perpetual motion, but he’s unable to avoid the movie sagging alarmingly during numerous moments where the multiple plot lines reach critical mass. Some of it is legitimately great with high points being some unexpectedly great, spikey, chemistry between Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy and Djimon Hounsou’s back-from-the-dead Wizard and the dictating powers of a magically sentient pen dubbed Steve, as the movie continues, the vast juggling act the story has set itself is just too much to sustain interest.


Sure the final act piles on a huge wooden fear-dragon and numerous ‘roided out variations of Harryhausen-esque creature from Greek myth (not to mention a groan inducing moment of product placement for Skittles so blatant, you almost have to admire its chutzpah), but it’s all negated by the fact that the villains are stunningly forgettable despite who is playing them.
The first film deftly funneled teen angst through the superhero filter with Jackass-style skits and genuine sweetness as our lead shifted forms between Asher Angel’s emotionally wounded teen and his muscle-bound alter ego, however, this time round the balance is upturned thanks to almost all of Billy’s angst being channelled through his Zachary Levi-shaped avatar who’s capering, while still fun – feels way more childish than the seventeen year old our lead has since become. He’s still fun to be around and the action is big and brassy (an opening scene showing the super fam showing up to combat a collapsing bridge right out of a Final Destination film is almost pitch perfect), but it’s all smothered by the mechanics of that hefty plot.
However, there’s another issue with Shazam! Fury Of The Gods that interestingly isn’t the fault of the movie at all and that’s the sound of a ticking clock as we make our way through the final three movies of the DCEU before James Gunn takes full control. Knowing full well that the events of The Flash is due to act as sort of a soft reboot for the series, there’s a distinct feel that everything we’re watching may not mean a hell of a lot by the time the year is out. Despite a sizable cameo (that amusingly resembles Black Adam’s instantly obsolete Superman appearance) and numerous post credit sequences that tease a rich future, there’s a very good chance that everything you’ve just sat through may eventually have zero payoff.


It’s fun, bright and busy, but at the end of the day, Shazam! Fury Of The Gods ultimately doesn’t mean very much and as the credits roll, you’ll feel the experience drain from your memory like Shazam hollered his own name to turn back into a kid.
For God’s sake.


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