Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)
Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Premise: A sequel to the 2019 film. Billy (Zachary Levi) and his superhero friends are confronted by ancient gods who plan to take their powers.
What Works: The first Shazam! film climaxed with Billy sharing his powers with the fellow kids at his foster home and creating a team of superheroes. That continues here and the adult actors do a great job playing young people in the bodies of adults. Zachary Levi is again quite fun in the lead role and Meagan Good brings a youthful quirkiness to her part.
What Doesn’t: The hook of Shazam! is that these superheroes are actually kids who have everyday teen and pre-teen lives. The tension between their godlike powers and their maturity was what made the first film compelling and entertaining and distinguished Shazam! in the crowded superhero genre. Fury of the Gods fumbles that appeal. Billy appears as his adult superhero persona for almost the entire movie. He does not have any normal teenage moments or storylines. The narrative moves up Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) and he has a possibility of a relationship with a new girl at school (Rachel Zegler). This doesn’t really go anywhere interesting. Their romance is derailed by an obvious twist and neither of the characters get meaningful personal or romantic moments. Fury of the Gods does almost nothing with the rest of the characters. The film begins by setting up Billy’s anxieties about losing his family and then establishes that this superhero team is starting to crack up as each of the kids has their own ideas and wants to go their own way. With that start, this story should be about these people learning to work together as a team and Billy learning to let go. Instead, the supporting cast are mostly relegated to the background. They ham it up during the superhero scenes but the other heroes don’t have personalities or meaningful stories. In fact, the film continually isolates Billy and not in a way that makes the character confront his personal issues. The action set pieces of Fury of the Gods are mostly average superhero carnage. There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before and the whole movie is dramatically slack. The stakes are unclear and the motivations of the villains are not interesting. Fury of the Gods has one bold choice in the climax which the filmmakers undo with a literal deus ex machina conclusion.
Bottom Line: Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a mediocre sequel. It is nowhere near as fun as the previous movie. The potential of the story is squandered and the core appeal of the Shazam! franchise is fumbled.
Episode: #941 (March 26, 2023)