Shazam: Fury of the Gods is another DC superhero dud
The long in-development Shazam sequel (four years is an age for superhero films) arrives at a strange time. Audiences seem to be burned out on Marvel and DC, with many recent releases either bombing or being the subject of fan ire. With a new strategy planned for the DC Universe, can Zachary Levi’s superkid convince us to keep Shazam around?
A few years on from the first film, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is getting used to his double life as Shazam(Levi) alongside his equally super siblings. However, when the vengeful Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu) return to Earth seeking an all powerful weapon, Billy must work out what it truly means to be a hero. The first film was charming, and got somewhat overlooked in 2019 in what was a dense year for comic book film releases.
Reminiscent of 80s hit Big, it played into the concept of a child being able to play at being a superhero. Sadly, that style of touching storytelling is less on display here. Instead, there is more of the late-stage universe jumbling that derailed the recent AntMan sequel. There are too many characters, too much lore, and while the script is witty not all of the jokes land. A running gag about Billy’s crush on Wonder Woman feels cheap, and there’s a cringe-worthy moment of product placement in the third act.
Oddly too, Levi seems to be the least interesting thing about his own movie. Jack Dylan Grazer is the film’s best part as Freddy, Billy’s brother who struggles with the disparity between bullied schoolkid and caped hero. Mirren and Liu are over the top, but even they have an arc worth watching as their aims diverge. Levi is there to act dopey and make lame gags, becoming a Himbo with no real qualifications for leading his team. It’s a routine that makes him feel superficial even in the CGIsoaked world he inhabits.
Like stablemate Black Adam, Shazam: Fury of The Gods thrashes around for a reason to exist, but only finds action scenes and quips. The customary credits scenes hint at a sequel, but this might be one hero that should get lost in the reshuffle.
Shazam: Fury of The Gods is in cinemas now
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