Director: David F. Sandberg | Script: Henry Gayden, Chris Morgan | Cast: Zachary Levi (Shazam), Asher Angel (Billy Batson), Jack Dylan Grazer (Freddy Freeman), Rachel Zegler (Anthea), Helen Mirren (Hespera), ea | Time to play: 130 minutes | Year: 2023
Several years have passed since the events of the first Shazam. The group is busy with their tasks as new superheroes, although this does not always go smoothly. Therefore, the city has given them the uncharming name of ‘Philadelphia Fiascos’. Billy doesn’t like this at all and he wants to do everything he can to change this. However, the rest of the team is busy with other things, as befits teenagers. Billy struggles to keep the group together, but when a trio of evil goddesses show up, they have to.
The sisters are the daughters of Atlas, the god whose power ‘the wizard’ stole and gave to Shazam. They come for revenge and to reclaim these powers. Unfortunately, these sisters are as drab as they come. Shazam: Fury of the Gods he’s up against a well-known problem in the superhero landscape: boring bad guys. Helen Mirren is written off entirely as Hespera and we don’t learn anything about the character from her. However, she is not the worst of the three. This unenviable title goes to Lucy Liu.
She plays the more evil sister Kalypso. She harbors the “power of chaos” that allows her to control people just by whispering in their ear. An interesting force with which a lot can be done, but very little happens with it. Why her anger is more intense than her sister’s remains a mystery. As a result, the layering disappears completely. Lucy Liu fully extracts seriousness and depth with her acting and puts on an accent whose purpose is still unclear afterwards.
Zachary Levi once again does a very good job and is the epitome of Shazam. Adam Brody also knows how to create the superhero version of Freddy in a fun and playful way. All the child actors have good chemistry together and really feel like a family, even though their characters are pretty cliche. Still, their relationship is believable enough to give the third act some weight.
Unfortunately, the film has to make do with a wafer-thin story that lacks depth on every level. It’s mostly an excuse for the many action scenes, and that’s a shame. It stays flirting with deeper issues without really going into it. A disconcerting choice is the reference to the sexuality of little brother Pedro. It is done with so little tact or meaning that it would have been better if it had been omitted. Also, the story does nothing for character growth or a prelude to later movies.
The action scenes, on the other hand, are well executed and look good. The CGI is sharp, but the heroes’ flight doesn’t look great. Action scenes often contain shockingly gruesome moments that shake the viewer for a moment. Innocent people die here and there in horrible ways. Refreshing on the one hand, but it does cause confusion in terms of tone.
Shazam! fury of the gods it is full of humor and jokes even more than other superhero movies. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, this humor is superficial and poorly timed, which greatly detracts from the scenes. One of the best gags is in the inevitable post-credits scene. This teases a major player and ultimately gives a nice hint at Shazam’s future in the messy DCEU.
Thankfully, the whole is still highly entertaining due to the lightheartedness and polished action scenes, but don’t expect conversations about the theme or meaning afterward. Of course, this is not the intention, but this complete lack of seriousness or content quickly dismantles the film. On to the next Shazam adventure, but let’s hope there’s something significant to discover. Otherwise, the magic will wear off quickly.