“Shazam! Fury of the Gods lacks the attraction and attraction of its predecessor. It is a zombified DCEU film that has no actual goal or sense of enjoyable.”
- Jack Dylan Grazer remains to be nice as Freddy Freeman
- The Shazam Household is entertaining to observe
- It isn’t as unhealthy as Black Adam
- Unhealthy villains
- Horrible particular results
- Lifeless course
- By-product story
The superhero film style is at a crossroads proper now. Whereas the dreaded “comedian guide film fatigue” hasn’t fairly set in simply but, there are some indicators that it’s coming. Final fall’s Black Adam largely upset critics and WB studio execs, failing to ship on star Dwayne Johnson’s promise to alter the “hierarchy of energy within the DC Universe.” Even Marvel is feeling the dearth of viewers enthusiasm, with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania turning into the worst-reviewed MCU film ever and failing to entice moviegoers into its newly inaugurated Part 5.
It’s on this unsure time that the sequel to 2019’s Shazam! — unimaginatively titled Shazam! Fury of the Gods — debuts, with its broader universe, the DCEU, in jeopardy of being utterly jettisoned for one thing newer and extra Marvel-like. James Gunn and Peter Safran are actually the co-heads of the newly created DC Studios, and so they haven’t totally dedicated to bringing anybody from the earlier regime over, and that features well-known actors like Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck.
This makes Fury of the Gods one thing like an outdated canine and not using a dwelling. Undesirable by its homeowners, it nonetheless troopers on, performing the identical tips that had beforehand happy folks previously. However what labored in 2019 received’t essentially work in 2023, and as an alternative of adjusting for the higher, Fury of the Gods doubles down on what folks preferred within the first movie. Need extra Shazam-like heroes? Then right here’s the “Shazamily,” a five-member crew who all share the identical powers because the titular hero. Need extra villains? As an alternative of 1, there are two, the Daughters of Atlas, who command a military of ogres, cyclopes, and sure, unicorns.
Extra doesn’t imply higher, and Fury of the Gods winds up being far much less gratifying than its charming predecessor. Drained and immediately outdated, the Shazam sequel received’t reverse the downward pattern of superhero motion pictures, and it doesn’t make a robust case for the DCEU — and Zachary Levi’s now-annoying hero — to be saved in any respect.
A by-product conflict of titans
Fury of the Gods picks up three years after the occasions of the primary movie. Now virtually 18, Billy Batson nonetheless lives together with his adopted siblings, who now have comparable powers because of the occasions of the final movie. This crew of heroes, dubbed the “Philadelphia Fanatics” by the press, encompass foster brothers Freddy Freeman, Eugene Choi, and Pedro Peña, and foster sisters Mary Bromfield and Daria Dudley, who, like Billy, flip into grown-up variations of themselves after they say “Shazam!”
After a show of their powers and teamwork in an prolonged rescue scene on a collapsing bridge that has been accomplished in virtually each superhero movie, Fury of the Gods units up its foremost villains: the Xena: Warrior Princess-rejects the Daughters of Atlas, performed by Helen Mirren (because the chief Hespera), Lucy Liu (because the untrustworthy Kalypso), and Rachel Zegler (because the not-really-bad Anthea). All of them need to retrieve the golden apple, which features as a seed that, when planted into the bottom, will develop the Tree of Life.
Unbeknownst to Shazam, the golden apple lies within the lair he shares together with his household. For the reason that Daughters of Atlas even have a murderous grudge towards the human race, the great guys are rapidly pitted towards the unhealthy girls in a conflict to see which godlike being can smash one another into partitions onerous sufficient for certainly one of them to realize the golden apple.
Are the Daughters of Atlas victorious? No spoilers, however the film’s final act includes numerous poorly rendered CGI fantasy creatures impressed by Ray Harryhausen, a betrayal that’s telegraphed very early on within the movie, an underdeveloped love story, a number of scenes of a dragon flying in downtown Philadelphia, and essentially the most egregious product placement in cinematic historical past (it includes a unicorn, a bit of woman, and Skittles, and it stops the film lifeless in its tracks). There’s an look by one other DCEU superhero too, which doesn’t rely as a spoiler since DC already gave it away in certainly one of their advertising and marketing spots. Fury of the Gods doesn’t have something you haven’t seen earlier than, but it surely’s been accomplished higher and with extra fashion in different motion pictures which can be extra price your time than this one.
Going by way of the motions
The primary Shazam! wasn’t that authentic both, but it surely had a sweetness and gravity to it that separated it from different comedian guide motion pictures. That attraction is all however gone within the sequel, which focuses extra on build up its second-rate villains than caring about its central forged of heroes. Because the Daughters of Atlas, Mirren, Liu, and Zegler all look misplaced or tired of the inane dialogue they’re requested to talk. Liu by far fares the worst, delivering her traces in a monotone that means the actress was over it earlier than taking pictures even started.
The heroes fare a bit of bit higher. Because the teenage Freddy Freeman, Jack Dylan Grazer as soon as once more exhibits why he, and never his bland co-star, Asher Angel, ought to have been forged as Billy. Each time he’s on the display screen, the film comes briefly alive as a consequence of his live-wire, improvisational power. His scenes with Djimon Hounsou, whose function because the once-dead-but-now-better ally is borderline unforgivable, are the most effective within the film as a result of they cackle with the giddiness of being a child caught up in a comic book guide world.
Because the “Shazfamily,” the kid and grownup actors taking part in Mary, Pedro, Darla, and Eugene aren’t given a lot to do, however have sufficient presence and likability to make you want they’d. The standouts embrace D.J. Cotrona because the grownup Pedro and Faithe Herman as younger Darla, who each share Grazer’s means to be awestruck on the fantastical world they inhabit. All of them have the correct amount of sweetness to their portrayals that doesn’t make you gag.
The identical can’t be mentioned for Zachary Levi’s portrayal of Shazam. This critic wasn’t a fan of his tackle the character within the first film, but it surely nonetheless made sense. He wished to speak Billy’s pleasure at escaping right into a world of capes and spandex, and at that, he was profitable. In Fury of the Gods, although, he comes throughout as an alien who has studied how teenagers act by watching quite a lot of TGIF sitcoms like Full Home after which plunged his head right into a pile of cocaine like Tony Montana did in Scarface. His efficiency is weirdly manic, determined, and tonally means off; no 17-year outdated acts likes how he behaves, and it takes you out of the image.
What’s additionally jarring is the sheer quantity of CGI the movie has, and the way poorly it continuously seems. The director, David F. Sandberg, clearly wished to go larger together with his sequel, however he doesn’t have an eye fixed for hanging visuals. The invasion of Philadelphia by Lord of the Rings-type creatures doesn’t pop as a lot as you need it to, and even easy scenes of heroes flying within the sky lack the grace and fantastic thing about Richard Donner’s Superman motion pictures — and people got here out over 40 years in the past! Particular results aren’t all the things, after all, however for a film that leans an excessive amount of on them to compensate for what it lacks, they’re important in offering no less than a minimal diploma of escapism, however Fury of the Gods fails to even move that low threshold.
Hey, no less than it’s higher than Black Adam
The most effective you may say about Shazam! Fury of the Gods is that it isn’t as unhealthy as Black Adam. That film was a groaner, an inexpensive and cynical parade of one-liners and pose photographs that have been all centered round propping up Dwayne Johnson’s charisma-free hero. In distinction, Fury of the Gods attains sufficient of its predecessor’s sweetness to be, on the very least, passably inoffensive.
However is that sufficient? Leaving apart the various choices the streaming age affords us, and even sequels like Creed III and Scream VI that turned out to be higher than anticipated, Fury of the Gods serves no actual goal as both a standalone film that provides nothing distinctive or as a chunk of a cinematic universe that’s all however lifeless. It’s insistent inclusion of DCEU Easter eggs, together with the two now-useless finish credit scenes, come off as unhappy and irritating. What’s the purpose of all this anymore?
Bear in mind these zombies in George Romero’s 1978 traditional Daybreak of the Lifeless, who, regardless of having died, nonetheless go to the mall as a result of that’s all they actually bear in mind? They don’t have any souls and no actual mind exercise, however they nonetheless undergo the motions of behaving like they didwhen they have been alive. Fury of the Gods is quite a bit like these zombies — it nonetheless walks and talks like a standard-issue DC film, but it surely has nowhere left to go.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is now taking part in in theaters nationwide.