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Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)

Billy Batson (Asher Angel), and his superhero alter ego Shazam (Zack Levi), is struggling with their gift. While he loves what he has been given, he’s worried that his family is drifting apart and that life as he knows it will soon come to an end. Shazam! Fury of the Gods is the next journey in Billy’s life as he’s forced to face bigger and more menacing threats than ever before. While he’s not sure that he’s up for the fight, he refuses to let the city of brotherly love fall. Now with a family of Shazams available, together they may have what it takes to save the world.

In a narrative that is just so annoyingly predictable I struggled to find the same appeal that I did in the first installment of this franchise. As I sat there in front of my television, trying to find something similar in the amount of vigor present in the narrative, I simply couldn’t. It seems that Writers Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan were looking to make the story as big as possible without trying to make it as cohesive as it needed to be in order to find success. At every turn there seems to be a new big reveal, some sort of twist–but those twists were never a surprise. They were laid out for viewers, and the aggressive twists that I believe the filmmakers hoped would be part of Shazam! Fury of the Gods never came to be.

The idea that Shazam! Fury of the Gods takes place in Philadelphia, a city that I frequent, is so appealing. I love the idea that somewhere that I’m incredibly familiar with would make its way to the big screen and be home to one of the more charming superheroes in modern cinema–but there are some issues here. When you use a place like Philadelphia as the backdrop for a blockbuster film, you have to do your homework–you have to ensure that the landscape looks appropriate and legitimate. I know that I’m not the only person that watched Shazam! Fury of the Gods and was frustrated by the lack of certain landmarks present in the film. Things like this can make a film challenging for viewers, and there were moments when I became fixated on this lack of attention to detail and lost focus on what was actually going on in the film.

What keeps the film grounded, and what really allows Shazam! Fury of the Gods to flourish is the charm of the characters and the brilliant performances by Levi and Meagan Good (Super Hero Darla). Just about everyone does a good job in their roles (some of the roles were casted poorly, but that’s beside the point)–but Levi and Good are the ones that stand out to me the most. These two actors do such a wonderful job of incorporating pieces of both their superhero selves and the innocent, naive children that are so important to who they are. They bring a certain level of emotion to the film that I don’t think can exist without them. Joy, pain, and more rise to the surface throughout the course of Shazam! Fury of the Gods–and much of that comes from Good and Levi.

What Shazam! did so much better than previous DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films was introduce comedy in a way that allowed the film to become grounded and far more accessible. Shazam! Fury of the Gods continues this; it continues to use comedy to drive its narrative, to develop its characters, and to appeal to viewers. I think the comedy is a tad more subtle this time around, even a little dry at times–however, this works for the film. Shazam! Fury of the Gods does a wonderful job of bringing to life a new superhero adventure in a way that continues to entice viewers, even if it is in a slightly new way.

I had high hopes for Shazam! Fury of the Gods. I anticipated that it would be able to live up to its predecessor, that it would possess the same level of vigor that came before. To a degree my hopes came to fruition, as the comedy present in the film continues to entertain throughout the film’s entirety, and it’s used as the primary vehicle by which the story is told. There are set design issues, there are issues with the story and its predictability, and some of the casting choices just don’t make sense in the grand scheme of the film. Even with its shortcomings, this cast, particularly Levi and Good, find ways to strengthen the film and appeal to viewers. Shazam! Fury of the Gods is a wonderful installment in the soon-to-change DCEU. And if I can leave you with one piece of advice after watching this film, it’s this: “Taste the rainbow, mother fuckers!”

Directed by David F. Sandberg.

Written by Henry Gayden, Chris Morgan, Bill Parker, C.C. Beck, & William Moulton Marston.

Starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, D.J. Cotrona, Grace Caroline Currey, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren, Faithe Herman, etc.




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