SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS review by Mark Walters – Zachary Levi battles Helen Mirren & Lucy Liu

SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS review by Mark Walters – Zachary Levi battles Helen Mirren & Lucy Liu

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In 2019, audiences enjoyed the big screen superhero antics of SHAZAM!, based on the classic DC Comics character who once held the name “Captain Marvel” before Marvel Comics made that no longer possible… long story there, but let’s just say DC made smart use of “Shazam” in the years that followed. The story follows Billy Batson, a young boy who has been gifted the powers of a wizard, and has spread those powers to his siblings in his foster family. In the new movie, SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS, a new threat arrives in Philadelphia, in the form of two sisters Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu), who are gods reuniting themselves with a powerful staff that allows them to use unstoppable magic. Hespera can control the elements, Kalypso can control weak minds to do her will, but they seem to be competing with each other over how they’ll use the staff. Billy (Asher Angel) and his best friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), along with the rest of their foster family siblings are still getting used to using their secret superpowers to save the day whenever needed, with their adoptive parents (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews) unaware of their hidden gifts. Billy as “Shazam” (Zachary Levi) soon finds himself in over his head with these new foes, and isn’t sure how to defeat the magical forces now threatening his city and loved ones.

There is nothing overly innovative or unique in SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS, it’s all pretty standard stuff for this kind of film, but like the first movie it excels at keeping the proceedings fun and interesting, and relies heavily on humor, which isn’t a bad thing. Director David F. Sandberg found a great groove with this character in the first SHAZAM!, and understands that more of the same is a safe and smart bet. All of the actors appear to be having fun and really making the most of the material they’ve been given. Sandberg also continues his use of creatures big and small, even showing us monsters that are obvious loving nods to the work of special effects greats like Ray Harryhausen, and taking something as simple as the concept of a dragon and finding a way to make it aesthetically unusual. The fantastical elements are all very well done, but I honestly found the first half of the film more entertaining and pleasing, as it focuses more specifically on the superhero family saving the day together and making local headlines. At two hours and 10 minutes, SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS does overstay its welcome a bit, but manages to keep things so fun that it doesn’t matter.

While it may not have to same levels of charm the first SHAZAM! gave us, this is a worthy and entertaining sequel that delivers exactly what fans of the original will enjoy. Zachary Levi gets the bulk of the screen time here, occupying almost every shot and getting the majority of the dialogue, commanding the screen quite well. I did find I missed the interaction of the kids, which was more prevalent in the first movie, though we get some of that later in the story this time around. Djimon Hounsou is back in a slightly bigger role here as the wizard who started all this from the first outing, and ends up being a really cool supporting character. Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu are interesting adversaries, but sadly underwritten to the point where I’m still not sure what their motivations were. I would have liked more back story with them, and that may be the weakest part of this sequel. I also would have enjoyed a bit more of Asher Angel as Billy Batson, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman, as they’re used pretty sparingly here… though we do get more of Freddy’s superhero counterpart played hilariously by Adam Brody, and we also get a welcome addition of Rachel Zegler (WEST SIDE STORY) as a new character and potential love interest for Freddy.

But for whatever shortcomings the film may have, Sandberg more than makes up for it with one of the most audience-pleasing finales of any superhero film in recent memory. The mid-credits sequence is also a real treat, and nicely sets up potential future events in the DC cinematic universe. SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS is a really fun sequel, even if it’s lacking in certain areas. As a companion to the first film, it’s a worthy follow up and great way to revisit these characters. I genuinely hope we get another SHAZAM! movie in this uncertain future for the DC movie franchise, as I feel like the best is still yet to come.

SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS now opens March 17, 2022

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.