March 13, 2023

CINEMA | 'Shazam! Fury of the Gods' Ages Into Menace

"We're gonna need more Skittles."
Zachary Levi Adam Brody D.J. Cotrona Meagan Good David F. Sandberg | Shazam! Fury of the Gods | DC Studios
New Line Cinema / DC Studios
Swedish genre director David F. Sandberg brings back the whole Shazam! superhero family alongside Zachary Levi, once again starring as the DC Comics incarnation of the "Champion of Gods" with Asher Angel as his teen counterpart Billy Batson, in the superhero sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

It's actually Jack Dylan Grazer (with Adam Brody as his "Captain Everypower" version) who gets a lot of increased screen time as Billy's wisecracking best friend and foster brother Freddy Freeman, the heart and emotional core of the film's goofy and lighthearted heroic fun. Sadly, Angel rarely appears with Levi mostly dominating Batson's on-screen appearance in adult form.

This time around, Rachel Zegler (easily, the film's highlight performance), Lucy Liu, and Helen Mirren co-star as the vengeful Daughters of Atlas from another decrepit realm who threaten the now-domed City of Philidelphia and Billy's family unit. It's too bad things just feel more serious and less silly. It does not help how the cast of originally innocent-looking kids all look considerably older as mature teens worried about aging out of foster care.

Scripted by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan, Levi's boyish charm and quips seem less appropriate coming from a seventeen-year-old character in an adult body rather than a runaway teen barely in the thick of adolescence. Like many sequels, Fury of the Gods has to juggle too much without the emotional grounding of a heartfelt orphan origin story.

Sandberg continues to balance a strange but appealing assembly of varying tones. However, this time around, the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury seldom strike lightning as Shazam! Fury of the Gods ages into a menacing mood of death and sacrifice in what is less of the childhood wish-fulfilment fantasy it started out as. Some of the magic is gone despite the sincerity of its core.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Inverse / ScreenCrush

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