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‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ (review)

While many have long since written off the DCEU – and with WBD seemingly following suit as Peter Safran and James Gunn announced that they are all but wiping the slate clean after years of overwhelmingly underwhelming fare – 2019’s Shazam! was nonetheless one of the few entries into the DCEU that managed to have an identity of its own with a titular superhero who burst onto the big screen with copious amounts of heart and humor mixed in with the superpowered action.

This was in no small part thanks to Zachary Levi being the ideal choice for a physically adult superhero with the mind of a teenager, just as the chemistry between Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer translated well from the chemistry Asher Angel’s Billy Batson has with Grazer’s Freddy Freeman to the comedic sparring between Levi and Grazer.

With a new batch of baddies in the form of the Daughters of Atlas, Helen Mirren in particular chews the scenery as Hespera, while Lucy Liu is dastardly cold as Kalypso, and the dynamic of the Daughters of Atlas as a whole serve as a juxtaposition to the dynamic of the Shazamily, which lends the baddies some depth as they are otherwise not afforded much more than the standard bad guy motivations of somehow threatening to bring an end to the human realm.

And the standardized motivations and inevitable CGI fest is where Shazam! Fury of the Gods stumbles somewhat.

While there is still plenty of entertainment to be had from the superhero genre in general, a thesis the box office numbers continues to support, the volume and frequence of output has, however, had a numbing effect on audiences, and it therefore takes the genre more and more to impress those who have become fatigued by it.

What Shazam! Fury of the Gods has working against it is not only an endless stream of superpowered content from the House of Mouse in particular, but also an absurd amount of plot, mythology and a relentless barage of one-liners from Levi in particular.

Thankfully, the film largely still works, and it owes a debt of gratitude to the foundations laid by the 2019 film.

Even though the jokes do not always land, the humor still works better than most superhero movies, and while the heart of the film is at times buried under tons of plot, it still manages to shine through and evoke enough emotion to make Shazam! Fury of the Gods a worthwhile sequel to what was essentially the Big of superhero movies.

All in all, while this sequel is a little too plot-heavy for its own good, what Shazam! Fury of the Gods fortunately still has is an endearing ensemble of characters from the inaugural film at hand to ensure that a good time is had with the Shazamily once more, and it is delightful to be reunited with this motley crew of outsiders-turned-superheroes, even if they – much like the audience – barely have time to breathe between the breakneck pace of this action-packed superhero blast.

Verdict: 7 out of 10.

*  *  *  *  *
Produced by Peter Safran
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Written by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan
Based on Characters by DC Comic
Starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody,
Ross Butler, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren

 

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