SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS, a sequel to the 2019 film that introduced us to Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as the titular hero is now out and unfortunately it is yet another step in the wrong direction for Warner Brothers and the DC Extended Universe (or whatever is left of it). David F. Sandberg returns to direct and the same cast comes along, so all should be set up for another fun ride that at the heart is a tender family story. The first film surprised this critic by having a great balance of some strong emotional beats and some truly terrifying action sequences. The same can not be said for its louder and bigger sequel. In fact one could argue that the screenwriters (Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke) took all the wrong lessons from the first film and ripped out a page of studio 101. SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS is another example of how this genre is continuing down a forgettable path, and while “superhero fatigue” is just a thing film twitter wants to be real, this film still shows that every thing needs a rework or a moment or two in solitude. Here is a quick breakdown on what went wrong, and the few rights of SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS


SPECTACLE OVER FAMILY-This is the definition of a sequel going for bigger and louder. Most of the film spends its time on CGI fight sequences and while the monsters can be exciting you find yourself disengaged from it emotionally and find yourself turn into yet another third act that has been beaten to death. Billy and the connection he has with his new family never carries any of the weight and when it does try to peek out it is quickly over shadowed by nauseating action sequences that lead to very little other than showing Shazam’s powers which is everything we have come to know from the genre. Overkill at its worst.

ZACHARY LEVI STANDUP HOUR-The first film had great charm channeling the energy of 80’s films (Big being the obvious) and while it was fun to watch Levi play a man child, this time around you start to realize that Levi as an actor does not seem to have the strength here to carry anything other than quick wit remarks that fall flat. When the film reaches its emotional moments it is refreshing to see Asher perform them, but it makes Levi’s performance stick out even more like a sore thumb.

ALL ABOUT FAMILY! BUT IS IT?-The film preaches its family first motto so much that its basically a new Fast and Furious movie (not fun fact, but one of the screenwriters did work on many Fast films and yes even references his own movie in this). This is not a bad thing especially since it is based on the foundation of the first one, but it is disappointing to see many of the family members sidelined. Ian Chen/Ross Butler as Eugene and superhero Eugen respectively are reduced to the brainiac stereotype, Jovan Armand/D.J. Cotrona as Pedro and superhero Pedro barely get a presence until a quick emotional beat. Even more so Grace Caroline Currey as both versions of Mary is given a bigger storyline that is quickly forgotten the moment buildings start collapsing.


MEAGAN GOOD-If SHAZAM! is still a kids franchise than Meagan Good as superhero Darla is keeping it alive. Faithe Herman as child Darla is a blast, but it is Good who carries that feeling of being a kid at heart regardless of age or superpowers. Scenes involving Good as Darla saving kittens before humans and feeding a captured villain skittles (but only yellow) is both adorable and in sync with what makes this crazy concept amusing.

LAIR HANGOUT-Again when SHAZAM! focuses on what being a kid superhero it soars. Scenes involving the adult cast hanging out in their lair (a place of childhood dreams) reminds us why this cast is so exciting. Give me the movie where Mary (Grace Caroline Currey) tries to live a normal life going to college parties, give me the movie where Eugene explores each magical world, hell give me the movie where Eugene learns to be a better dodgeball player. Whatever it is just give me this cast doing fun things that don’t involve over serious saving the world issues that have grown tiresome. Adam Brody and Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy may be the only two that get a more fleshed out balance of both worlds. This may be seen as credit to Grazer’s acting skills but nobody in this cast is a weak point which is more than apparent during these hangout scenes.

All in all SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS is a major step down and an unfortunate reminder that those in charge have very little idea what the next step is. A film does not need to rely on being in the bigger picture, but when the producers keep reminding you of an inevitable reboot its hard to see it any other way. SHAZAM! is a lesson in not everything needs to be louder, often enough those quiet tender moments are what makes a superhero truly soar.




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