Movie Review: ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’

Director: David F. Sandberg

Cast: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Rachel Zegler, Ross Butler, Ian Chen, Meagan Good, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, D.J. Cotrona, Jovan Armand, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren

Plot: Shazam and his superhero siblings are clumsily trying to protect the city of Philadelphia while navigating their double-lives as teenagers. Even though they struggle to save innocents without causing massive collateral damage, they must face the Daughters of Atlas, who intend to reclaim the powers stolen from the gods.

Review: There’s been an air of uncertainty surrounding Shazam! as we gear up for his second outing. The first film was generally well liked having delivered a comedy superhero film that is equal parts funny and exciting. Then the DCEU soft reboot gets announced with Superman, Wonder Woman and more being struck off the slate. Shazam has a second movie in the can, but we’ve had no confirmation as to whether or not this is a final adventure. It’s not unlike Shazam’s alter-ego Billy (Angel) facing an uncertain future as he approaches the end of high school and ages out of the foster system. The one thing he can do is keep his family of superheroes together, frequently enforcing an ‘all or nothing’ approach to heroics.

As you’d expect, as much as Billy pushes to keep his siblings together, they seek more space. Freddy (Grazer) wants to take some solo outings as his alter ego ‘Captain Everypower’ (Brody), and has a budding romance with new classmate Anna (Zegler). Shazam! Fury of the Gods feels more like Freddy’s movie than Billy’s, with the character scoring much more screen time, developing new relationships and deals with more grounded conflicts. Billy spends much more of the film in his superhero form of Shazam (Levi) – which is how I’m going to refer to him as they’re continuing the nameless hero gag from the first film. Billy’s desire to keep his family intact gets more play as Freddy dealing with an overbearing brother.

It’s not all teen drama though, as the Daughters of Atlas Hespera (Mirren) and Kalypso (Liu) have claimed the magical staff left broken by Shazam in the previous movie. With this artefact in hand they have the opportunity to take the powers off Shazam and his family and use it to restore their own world. These two are a good choice of villain, being able to meet Shazam on his level without just being an evil version of the hero (looking at you, Marvel). They have their own unique abilities along with Greek God level strength and durability. The power of the ‘axis’ makes for some especially cool visuals, and the battles between the sisters and the heroes manage to sell the immense power behind their punches. Rolling out a menagerie of monsters from Greek mythology is a bonus, even if it comes with one of the most egregious product placements we’ve seen in a while.

This is a really fun continuation of the characters we were introduced to in Shazam! Spending more time with the entire superhero family is very welcome, as are the new challenges they must face. With so many more characters in the mix it feels like they couldn’t work in as much comedy this time around. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, many courtesy of new character Steve, but they only crop up every now and then. I’m not a fan of the new costume design, with the hood being removed and the chest emblem looking less dynamic. It’s not terrible, but isn’t as striking as it used to be.

Younger audiences in particular will get a kick out of Shazam’s continuing antics. These are certainly characters we want to see continue.

Rating: SEVEN out of TEN