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Shazam! Fury of the Gods review: An enjoyable sequel but lacks the gravitas to take the DCU forward

The Shazam! sequel is the final film before the interconnected DC universe is rebooted through the upcoming film, The Flash

Shazam! Fury of the Gods review: An enjoyable sequel but lacks the gravitas to take the DCU forward

Last Updated: 07.58 PM, Mar 17, 2023


Story: Billy Batson and the Shazam family find it tedious to manage their dual roles as young adults and superheroes. The weight of the responsibility lies on Billy’s shoulders who believes that his family is drifting apart. As a powerful new threat emerges on the horizon, Billy must rally his brothers and sisters to save the world once again.


Review: The notion of ‘superhero fatigue’ has been a topic of great debate in recent years, but it was a notion that the partisan and vocal superhero fandoms have dismissed without hesitation. However, the box-office numbers of recent films for both Marvel and DC do not bode well. Even the once unstoppable money-minting juggernaut of the MCU has hit a few roadblocks. For DC on the other hand, this should’ve been the perfect opportunity to capitalise on the uncertainties surrounding their rivals. And James Gunn’s newly rebranded DC Universe should’ve been an easy solution to fix the convoluted mess left behind due to the astonishing mismanagement at Warner Bros. But Shazam! Fury of the Gods poses more questions than it answers about the DCU. The most baffling of them being, that if this sequel was even warranted if these characters are to be rebooted. This uncertainty may have even killed any chance of success it may have had at the box office.


Director David F Sandberg has certainly gone for a more ambitious film, but at the cost of sacrificing some of the emotional layers offered in the first film. There are certainly more action sequences and gnarly monsters in the sequel, and they offer some unbridled action. Even the CGI leaves a lot to be desired in the first act of the film but improves considerably in the third act. The slapstick comedy was certainly inescapable, but Shazam is probably among the few characters from DC lore where comedy does work effortlessly. But then again it is almost impossible to wrap one's head around the fact that this film belongs in the same universe as Zack Snyder’s criminally underrated Man of Steel. There is in fact a homage to a Zack Snyder-DC film at the end, where Shazam is seen carrying the wizard’s staff like in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice where Superman carries the kryptonite spear to kill Doomsday.


Despite Zachary Levi and Asher Angel playing the younger and older versions of the lead Billy Batson, it is Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman who is the heart and soul of the film. Freddy is perfectly able to balance the film's humour and the heartwarming moments in the narrative. However, this also undervalues the importance of the other young heroes in the film. And it begs the question as to whether the entire Shazam family should’ve been introduced in the very first film. This renders the film a little too bloated for a relatively low-budget film.


The plot itself relies heavily on familiar tropes, and the various twists and turns are predictable. Helen Mirren, Rachel Zegler, and Lucy Lui as the antagonists offer a very familiar take on villains. But the film’s most unforgivable drawback is how it completely wasted Diedrich Bader’s role. The various nods and references to other films were a hit or miss and added purely for comedic relief. There is also a reference to Captain Marvel, which most fans will know as the original name of Shazam in the comics. But ultimately Warner Bros may have shot themselves in the foot with the premature announcement of the reboot. The reboot itself is convoluted considering Henry Cavill is being recast as Superman but Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman makes a cameo in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. It remains to be seen if Shazam and Wonder Woman will be recast, and then there is also the matter of the Aquaman sequel starring Jason Momoa which is coming out later this year, after The Flash.


Verdict: The sequel to the 2019 film is more ambitious, albeit without the emotional depth of its predecessor. The decision to announce a DCU reboot will certainly disrupt its box-office collection, and it yet again highlights the mismanagement of DC by Warner Bros.


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