Movie Review | Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)

Since no film with Lucy Lui in it can be too bad and since it appears that teen-targeting superhero films will not be dying out in the near future, we look to Shazam! Fury of the Gods for at least some fun, action, and stimulation. 

But sadly, in the vast and ever-expanding realm of dime-a-dozen superhero movies, Shazam! Fury of the Gods emerges as yet another cheap and colorful thrill that is easily had and easily forgotten. This one certainly falls behind the first film in more ways than one. 

This second entry, with its blend of heart, humor, and electrifying action sequences, directed by David F. Sandberg (Shazam!, 2019, Annabelle: Creation, 2017) wants to be a simple “good time” at the movies, especially for younger, less discerning audience members. Building on the success of its predecessor, Shazam! (2019), this film takes our elect characters on a new adventure as they face two formidable new threats (Lucy Liu as "Kalypso" and Helen Mirren as "Hespera"). 

The screenplay, penned by Henry Gayden, Chris Morgan, and Bill Parker (known from the previous film), weaves a narrative that explores the complexities of family dynamics and the consequences of wielding immense power. Zachary Levi (Shazam!, 2019, There's Someone Inside Your House, 2021) once again dons the iconic red and yellow suit to reprise his role as the affable and childlike Shazam, who has yet some maturing to do. Levi's portrayal continues to embody a balance of wide-eyed wonder and unwavering courage, making his character mildly endearing. 

Asher Angel (Shazam!, 2019) and Jack Dylan Grazer (It, 2017) deliver remarkable performances as Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman, respectively. As the title suggests, the film introduces a host of formidable adversaries, each with their unique set of powers. The visual effects team has truly outdone themselves, creating stunning sequences that seamlessly blend magic and mayhem. From awe-inspiring battles to hair-raising chase scenes, every frame is a testament to the artistry and imagination behind this production. 

What may be said to set this movie apart from its contemporaries is its profound exploration of the notion of family. Shazam! delves into the challenges and rewards of various familial relationships, demonstrating that being a hero goes beyond saving the world. It is about finding one's identity and the unconditional love that binds us together. 

Sandberg's deft direction ensures that the film never loses its sense of humor amidst the high-stakes action, but as a result, is sometimes hard to take seriously. Moreover, the production design and cinematography of Shazam! Fury of the Gods further elevate the film's aesthetic touch. The rich and vibrant color palette infuses each scene with a sense of wonder and spectacle. Combined with the captivating musical score, the film immerses viewers in a world that is at once recognizable and fantastical. The attention to detail is evident in the intricate designs of both the heroes and the villains. Each character is distinct and visually striking, adding depth and visual appeal to the narrative. 

Still, this Shazam! is really a low-yielding success. Sandberg's direction and his creative prowess has strayed a bit into the avenue of cheap superhero movies that cater to either very young or otherwise undiscerning viewers who do not object to the introduction of characters and plots that fail to contribute to the bigger superhero franchises. For this reason, Shazam! Fury of the Gods will forever remain limited in its potential.