Shazam! Fury of the Gods Movie Review: The first Shazam! took me completely by surprise. It was a great feel-good trip and a coming-of-age adventure wrapped in heroics, bolstered by director David F Sandberg's fun filmmaking approach. Now, almost four years after the first film's release, we have Shazam! Fury of the Gods, and it's a pleasure to say that Sandberg packs the same amount of heart into the sequel.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods picks up a bit after the first film, with the Shazam Family attempting to be the heroes Philadelphia deserves, but failing miserably at the task. In that moment, the Daughters of Atlas rise, seeking vengeance on the world with a powerful weapon capable of destroying everything. This forces our heroes to return to action and prove that they are worthy of the power they wield.
Director David F Sandberg has taken a very interesting approach to the story here. If the first film was a solo adventure centered on Billy Batson, the sequel focuses entirely on the Shazam family as a whole, almost making it seem like an ensemble. This helps the story because there is a fun family dynamic going on, and it feels like a proper continuation of the first film while upping the stakes in many ways. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does offer a really entertaining time.
The Shazam Family – which consists of Billy Batson (Asher Angel/Zachary Levi), Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen/Ross Butler), Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman/Meagan Good), Pedro Pena (DJ Cotrona/Jovan Armand) and Mary Bromfield (Grace Caroline Currey) – is extremely charming and fun to follow. Each actor brings something specific to their role, and their adult counterparts play off fairly well.
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Personally, a big standout for me in Shazam! Fury of the Gods was Jack Dylan Grazer's Freddy Freeman, who almost feels like the film's second protagonist. He has a blossoming romance with Rachel Zegler's Anthea, and it provides him with a nice arc throughout the film. However, all this talk about the Shazam family doesn’t mean that the spotlight is completely taken off Billy though.
Billy Batson is still integral to the story of Shazam! Fury of the Gods. If the first film was about Billy finding a family, the sequel is about accepting that family's love while proving he is worthy of his powers. This arc contains some heartwarming beats that will keep you emotionally invested in the story. There is one disappointment: Asher Angel doesn't get much to do because the role is mostly played by Zachary Levi for like 60% of the film. So, it does lack some of that coming-of-age aspect of the previous outing, but there is still a pretty nice and worthwhile arc involved here. Djimon Hounsou's Wizard also makes a return, with a bit more to do in the sequel, and it was fun to see him back.
The villains Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) do a good job of appearing to be viable threats as well. There is a backstory that never really materialises, but having this massive star power attached to them did wonders. Mirren and Liu command the screen admirably, and their journey certainly complements that of our heroes. I just wish they'd fleshed out their backstory a little more.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods also has a few plot conveniences, mostly in the third act. This can sometimes cheapen some of the buildup, and while it isn't prevalent throughout the film, it did take me out of it the few times it did occur. It's all thankfully not too noticeable because the filmmaking on display here is something that pleasantly surprised me.
Sandberg was able to create magic with this film despite having a budget of only $100 million. It is bigger in every way imaginable, and it somehow manages to look better than some of the recent superhero films. The action scenes, in particular, are a step up, and Sandberg certainly knows how to keep things exciting while bringing some of his horror inspirations with him.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is also the funniest superhero film I've seen in a long time. There is a great mix of situational comedy and relying solely on the comedic timing of actors who work extremely well. None of the jokes undermined any of the emotional moments, and they certainly brought the house down at times. There's also a cameo that I won't reveal, and it was amazing to once again hear genuine cheers while watching a superhero movie.
Asher Angel Feels Underutilised
Given the recent fatigue of superhero films, Shazam! Fury of the Gods manages to stand out as a fresh outing that isn't concerned with creating a universe. It's a delightful time that tells a hilarious and heartfelt story, and for that alone, this is a film worth seeing in theatres. Shazam! Fury of the Gods releases in theatres on March 17, 2023.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 16, 2023 03:31 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).