‘SHAZAM: FURY OF THE GODS’ Review | Big Effects, No Substance

The DC Universe is in a strange place. Despite the upcoming “Snyder Con,” Zack Snyder is done with DC films and is owned by Netflix for the foreseeable future. James Gunn has taken over as co-head of DC Studios, with a partially revealed first slate of films. However, between Snyder’s DCEU and Gunn’s DCU, you have these final few films that may continue on into the DCU, but will most likely be the last time we see many of these characters in their current on-screen incarnations.

Shazam (Zachary Levi) is one character who falls into the murky waters of the unknown. While the actor has had some choice words on social media that have him on the verge of being canceled, Shazam: Fury of the Gods is produced by Peter Safran, the other co-head of DC Studios. So while it seems as though this version of Shazam will be done after Fury of the Gods, Elseworlds are in play, so who knows how the character will land in the new DCU.

All that said, Shazam: Fury of the Gods continues along the same lines as the first movie. It’s clearly aimed at a younger audience, despite some of the more adult-themed jokes (most of which don’t land). The same problems that plagued the first film are still very present in Fury of the Gods, and the movie feels like it was made in the 90s or early 00s.

Due to the events of the first film, three Gods have come to the realm of Earth. They’ve decided that the world needs to be destroyed, starting with the city of Philadelphia, and it’s up to the Shazamily to stop them. The villains are fairly generic in every way, with Helen Mirren trying her best to work with a very lackluster script. Even Lucy Liu as Kalypso feels downgraded from many of her recent roles, and as charming as Rachel Zegler is as Anthea, her character arc is equally disappointing.

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Moving beyond the dialogue and character arcs, the story is simply juvenile. Say what you will about Marvel’s latest offerings, but the bar has been raised. Superhero films that have minimal character development, and a plot that works better as an ABC movie of the week just aren’t enough anymore.

There’s an underlying plot in Fury of the Gods concerning Billy Batson (Asher Angel) potentially having to move out when he turns 18 in a few months, and Mary Bromfield (Grace Caroline Currey) trying to finish college and get a job to help around the house, but it’s never explored in any kind of meaningful way. It’s all just background noise to the special effects spectacle of the Shazamily fighting some Greek Goddesses for no real reason. There’s zero substance in Fury of the Gods, and special effects battles aren’t enough to make up for that anymore.

Comic book fans will also likely be disappointed in the fact that this film version of Shazam acts more childish than the high school senior version of himself, Billy Batson. In the comics, Shazam has the wisdom of Solomon, among other abilities. Fury of the Gods goes out of its way to confirm this version of the character also has the wisdom of Solomon, while simultaneously making him act like a middle school kid.

Go back in time 20 years and this movie would’ve at least been a fun distraction. The effects are nice, there’s some fun to be had, and it has some star power. These days, that’s simply not enough. Even Marvel films get scrutinized for everything, but no matter what you think of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania it’s still significantly better than Shazam: Fury of the Gods. Stop hiring Fast and the Furious and Zombie Roadkill writers, and give people a compelling story to go with the big-budget spectacle.

About Shazam: Fury of the Gods

Synopsis: The film continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word “SHAZAM!” is transformed into his adult Super Hero alter ego, Shazam.

Director: David F. Sandberg

Writers: Henry Gayden, Chris Morgan

Stars: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Rachel Zegler, Jack Dylan Grazer

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2 Hours, 10 Minutes

Releases: March 17, 2023

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Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.

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