Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023): Movie Review

Shikhar Jauhari

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods: Movie Review: Levi returns in “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” now a little older on the inside (Shazam’s alter ego, the foster kid Billy Batson, is nearing 18). Still, the comedic dissonance between the hulking man in the red suit and his limitless powers and the bumbling teenager who is in over his head is present. Again, it’s Levi who carries the film, but with perhaps less infectious buoyancy.

The new haircut gives him a different vibe, even though the difference isn’t great, and I may seem to nitpick over nothing. His hair is cut shorter and more conventionally (from some angles, it’s nearly a fade). There’s something less endearingly quirky and stylized about him.

When two immensely strong and nasty Goddesses show up, they (Philly Fiascos) must make amends because the world will end, and superheroes are the only hope to save the humanity. It’s a typical dilemma in any superhero movie. Don’t expect major storyline twists or shocks, but know that this sequel will deliver nonstop action, adventure, and a visually stunning extravaganza. Consequently, we wouldn’t have many complaints regarding the plot or the writing (by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan), which was designed simply to give us a steady stream of excitement and humor. This one is packed from beginning to end with amazing comedy jabs that will make you do more than just giggle.

The performers playing Billy’s parents and siblings, who transform into brash adult demigods when they speak the magic phrase, make this pre-chewed humor delightful. Shazam (played by Levi) and Super Freddy (Adam Brody), also known as Captain Marvel Jr. and Elvis Presley’s favorite super-guy, respectively, are two of the film’s most memorable characters, each representing a young adult struggling with the unappreciated weight of adult emotions and responsibilities. Even though Mirren smiles like a pro, the film’s grownup baddies are forgettable.

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“Shazam!” elements of a kinder and wittier teen super-drama may be found. Billy’s dread of turning eighteen and being “aged out of” his family is hinted at in the frenzied, well-spoken dialogue in “Furious Gods.” His other relatives have lives of their own. Still, we only see glimpses of them when the plot slows down to focus on likable but under-developed supporting characters like Darla (Faithe Herman), who is obsessed with unicorns, and Pedro (Jovan Armand), who is gay and tries to hide it, both of whom graze the heart-strings with focus-group-level efficiency.

“Shazam! More meandering in that direction may be seen in “Fury of the Gods.” Spoken for the first time, “Shazam! “succeeds to the extent that it does because it centers on two precocious preteens, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), who are drawn into a generic dream with the help of their extended orphan family and friends. “Shazam! Despite another solid comedy performance from protagonist Zachary Levi and some scattered laughs, “Fury of the Gods” generally adheres to the comic book structure that the first movie poked fun at. This one is cheesier and less confident than the original “Shazam! “. But you can reheat these leftovers just well.

“Shazam! Perhaps “Fury of the Gods” would have worked better if it had paid equal attention to Billy and Freddy and their adolescent angst. In two different situations, Billy fantasizes about Wonder Woman, while Freddy has a crush on Anthea, the new girl at school (Rachel Zegler, who sadly has no chemistry with Grazer). Even though Billy claims to place a premium on family, perhaps he would be better served by devoting his time and energy to battling with his surrogate brother and grappling with his super-ego. We may expect similar results, so why not try it again?

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Returning to battle the latest angry dangling narrative line, the Daughters of Atlas, commanded by Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu), who seek revenge for their father, Atlas, Billy, Freddy, and their foster family members return (not in this picture). The identity of the third Daughter is momentarily shrouded in obscurity.

The humor is not physical but rather subtly interwoven into the script and delivered with deadpan precision. Stunts, camerawork (by Gyula Pados), and special effects are all excellent. They’re timed perfectly for the big screen while yet staying true to the comic book source material structure. Together, the live-action and CGI aspects create a breathtaking visual experience with you on the edge of your seat.

David F. Sandberg, the film’s director, has to contend with the audience losing interest when the first thrill of the abilities wears off. The visual effects are a huge step forward from the 2019 picture, which was, to be honest, very boring. Yet, the influence of the Harry Potter films is obvious, notably in the scene with Ladon, the dragon.

Their antics aren’t very original, but what makes them entertaining is how our heroes respond to their serious, world-ending behavior with true silliness and humor. The steady stream of jokes at their own expense makes Shazam more bearable. Wrath of the Gods is easily forgotten compared to its great forerunner.

The fact that Billy is about to turn 18 and may have to leave his new family is used as a story device, which is a plus for the movie. There’s also the plot of how he attempts to keep the squad together even while everyone else is splitting out. Yet, the movie doesn’t use these conventions to its advantage and instead overwhelms the audience with exposition. If we exclude the overstuffed exposition provided by Atlas’s offspring, there is still a great deal of filler information.

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Although keeping you entertained for its whole 130 minutes, Shazam! Fury of the Gods leaves you wondering where the franchise is heading. The promises of crossovers with other DC properties and heroes have proven to be hollow in the past. There are some good lines here, and it’s clear that Mirren, Liu, and Djimon Hounsou (as the old wizard) are having a good time in their parts, even if they do seem like they’re thinking about dinner after a long day on set. Shazam! 2 isn’t a total departure from the superhero movie formula, but it does have that fresh-from-the-fridge orange juice flavor that makes it enjoyable.

Movie Info

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Shazam! Fury of the Gods: Cast

  • Zachary Levi: Shazam
  • Asher Angel: Billy Batson
  • Jack Dylan Grazer: Freddy Freeman
  • Rachel Zegler: Anthea
  • Adam Brody: Super Hero Freddy
  • Ross Butler: Super Hero Eugene
  • D.J. Cotrona: Super Hero Pedro
  • Grace Caroline Currey: Mary Bromfield
  • Meagan Good: Super Hero Darla
  • Lucy Liu: Kalypso
  • Djimon Hounsou: Wizard
  • Helen Mirren: Hespera
  • Faithe Herman: Darla Dudley
  • Ian Chen: Eugene Choi
  • Jovan Armand: Pedro Peña
  • Marta Milans: Rosa Vasquez
  • Cooper Andrews: Victor Vasquez
  • Rizwan Manji: Docent

Crew

  • Director: David F. Sandberg
  • Producer: Peter Safran
  • Executive Producer: Walter Hamada, Adam Schlagman, Richard Brener, Dave Neustadter, Victoria Palmeri, Marcus Viscidi, Geoff Johns
  • Cinematographer: Gyula Pados
  • Screenwriter: Henry Gayden, Chris Morgan
  • Film Editing: Michel Aller
  • Christophe Beck: Original Music
  • Production Design: Paul Kirby
  • Art Director: Audra Avery

Release Date (Theaters): Mar 17, 2023 

WideBox Office (Gross USA): $45.9M

Runtime: 2h 10m

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Sound Mix: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital

* MPAA rating: PG-13 (Sequences of Action|Language|Violence)

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