Review: “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is a Cut-and-Paste Superhero Sequel

Whatever you put into David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods is what you will get out of it. If you love the original or want to bring your kids, you will probably enjoy it. If you are hoping to see some interesting superhero story with new angles, you will experience absolutely nothing new.

Following the events of the first Shazam! film, Zachary Levi stars as the superhero champion, who is actually teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel). Along with his six foster family siblings whom he shares powers with, Billy attempts to keep the family together and fight crime. Unknowingly, Billy has released the Daughters of Atlas on the world after the events of the previous film.

The daughters, Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler), want revenge on the wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) for stealing power from their father. As they look to remake Earth in the image of their home world, the family must come together to stop the threat.

The film’s biggest problem is the formula. After establishing the hero and stakes in the original, the sequel is forced to manufacture a bigger threat and an internal problem with the heroes. The internal problem must be personal, while the threat has to have a larger impact than the original. There is absolutely nothing new or interesting about the threats or the internal problems. It’s superhero mad libs.

On top of that, the Shazam tone doesn’t mesh with the actual goings-on. There is a constant, never-ending stream of jokes, one-liners, and quick wit. All the while, characters are actually dying. One particular scene with Kalypso consists of plenty of jokes, followed by her character mind-controlling another to commit suicide, followed by more action and jokes. It feels gross to be laughing following something that should be at little bit emotionally powerful.

That tone continues throughout the film, including the utterly preposterous ending. The film had a real chance to drive home some emotional stakes and consequences, but instead the film opts for a cop-out and a cheap cameo. It comes out of absolutely nowhere and makes zero sense other than to provide fan service.

Most of the actors are on a level of cruise control. Levi repeats his same characterization from the first film without adding anything interesting. Mirren and Liu are doing nothing spectacular, as they seem keenly aware how ridiculous everything is. Zegler is a nice addition and brings a breath of fresh air to the festivities. Adam Brody and Meagan Goode are also having loads of fun as two of the superhero versions of the kids. Hounsou gets much more to do in this film, and makes the most of it.

The action is perfectly fine, but unremarkable. The much-advertised dragon is much less interesting on film that it should be. Additionally, the various CGI monsters and fights aren’t that inventive. There is an incredibly stupid product placement that actually becomes an integral plot point. It points to what the film actually cares about. If you liked the first Shazam! film, you’ll probably like this one too.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is inoffensive and forgettable. No one will accidently stumble into this film and fall in love with it. People who seek it out will probably love it. You either care about Shazam! or you don’t. If you don’t, probably seek entertainment elsewhere.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods opens in theaters on Friday, March 17th.
Score: 2.5/5.0

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