“An amusement park for the brain” it is not, nor is it as entertaining as some of those intermittently shouted lines, yet director David F.Sandberg’s follow-up to one of the better DCEU films in recent years definitely also shouldn’t be doing its final lap.
With new studio commanders James Gunn and Peter Safran not so much as restriucturing the future slate of the comic magnate’s film division as they are purportedly erasing it from existence, one suspects the new Shazam! to not only be as ugly as one of those cow teats after Freddy fingered it back but a stain on WB’s underoos. Yet, with the first a perfectly enjoyable and rather clever adaptation of C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker’s classic comic, fans will be pleasantly surprised to discover the follow-ups ‘more of the same approach’ goes down near as well as bottomless skittles in a fierce unicorns’ stomach.
Where Shazam! Fury of the Gods suffers in comparison to the 2019 original is in its erratic, confused tone and swollen screenplay. Whereas the first played more like a John Hughes teen comedy in superhero clothing, this latest one largely departs from the jokes and pop culture gags and instead focuses more on blowing things up and packing the screen with action. Bigger is usually better, right? not in this case. With a third quarter resembling an overstuffed and convoluted Transformers sequel – with the endless monsters vs. humans’ clashes that seem to go on and on – than the lighter fare it started as, the Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan penned sequel proves that bigger isn’t always better.
When we next catch up with Billy Batson (Asher Angel, starting to resemble less the gangly young boy from the original and now a muscular superhero himself) and his fellow foster kids they’re all now accustomed to their new superhero powers. Still, the bunch are struggling with the ability to juggle normal teenage life with their adult superhero alter egos. In particular, Freddy who seems content on remaining in his more attractive, stronger adult superhero body (Adam Brody) than Batson (Zachary Levi, back as his alter-ego) and the others.
When a vengeful trio of ancient gods (the randomly cast trio of Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler) arrives on Earth in search of the magic stolen from them long ago, the team get thrust into a battle for their powers, lives, and the world around them.
Although a little elongated and overly ambitious, Fury of the Gods is intriguing enough to fill its unnecessary 130-minute runtime. It also boasts some enthusiastic performances, particularly from the likes of its core young cast, and some rather dazzling set pieces.
In summary : It’s candy, sure, and its forgettable stuff, but without the gloomy tone, under weighing melodrama and world-setting that’s plagued many of the other previous DCEU films, Shazam! Fury of the Fods Is also a lot better than its doomed future might suggest. Surely there’s a spot for him somewhere in the new DCU world, James?