SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS
Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Glazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, and Helen Mirren
Director: David F. Sandberg
In Fury of the Gods, director David F. Sandberg immediately reminds everyone that he’s a horror guy by showcasing the Daughters of Atlas’ (Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu) horrific power to open the film. More of their menacing presence is needed because everything else is exactly what detractors said of the first film: it’s nonsensical and overly childish. While co-stars like Meagan Good (Darla) recapture the original’s balance of wonder and adventure, stars Zachary Levi (Shazam) and Jack Dylan Grazer (Freddy Freeman) fill the majority of their screen time with corny dialogue and cheesy moments that wastes the goodwill of Sandberg’s horror sensibilities.
For a person who enjoyed Shazam!, Fury of the Gods is a silly disappointment. The story is wavetop boring with character development seemingly an afterthought, especially for Rachel Zegler’s character, and the green-screening isn’t much better. Plus, the jokes don’t generally land; one sequence that plays like a crossover commercial for Skittles and Budweiser elicited audible groans. Lastly, the ending and post-credits scenes set up a future that carries zero weight given what we know about DC movies going forward. Overall, Djimon Hounsou is excellent (the film’s MVP), Lucy Liu is downright atrocious, and the film isn’t even as good as the middling Black Adam.
Fury of the Gods continues to build on the characters’ charm and some of the fun from the first film, but there is no denying that it has a bit of a tonal crisis on its hands. The scenes with Jack Dylan Grazer and Rachel Zegler work best as individual moments, and the actual superhero material works well enough, but the film is unable to reconcile wanting to be a big, dramatic sequel with what ultimately works about its central character: the fun of it all. It’s hardly a disaster by most estimations, but there are diminishing returns to the Shazam! idea.
Fury of the Gods is not a movie I would classify as either good or bad, just aggressively fine. There’s certainly fun to be had, especially courtesy of the loveable cast (the duo of Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren are a very funny addition); however, the childlike wonder and charm of the first film have been mostly stripped away, and while the silliness and wink-to-the-camera lines can be appealing, the script feels like it’s on autopilot this time around, causing it to come off as more of a run-of-the-mill superhero flick. It’s not something I’m mad about, but it’s nothing I’ll ever revisit either.