Shazam! Fury of The Gods Thinks It’s Much Better Than It Really Is


Cooper gives another movie review

Cooper Milliken, Staff Writer

Two weeks ago I saw Shazam! Fury of The Gods in the Washington, DC 4DX Regal Cinema and, despite the incredibly fun atmosphere of the theater, I find this film’s predecessor Shazam! to be a much more entertaining and heartfelt experience. Both films were co-written and directed by David F. Sandberg, a Swedish filmmaker who got his start with the 2015 indie horror Lights Out, and stars Zachary Levi as the titular Shazam, Asher Angel as his alter ego, Billy Batson, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s best friend, Freddie Freeman. We follow these characters and the rest of their superhero family (The Shazamily) as they battle against a world-ending threat and try to keep their family together. 

To me, the element that made the original Shazam! so great was the “Amblin aesthetic”. Amblin Entertainment is the production company founded by Steven Spielberg and produced many classics of the 1980s such as ET, Gremlins, The Goonies, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It had a sense of childlike whimsy but also included elements of horror and powerful melodrama like those classic films. The creatives behind this film knew that this element was one of the strongest draws of the previous, but instead of creating a story that had that element they frivolously rode the coattails of the last. 

The first act of the film sets up a narrative conflict between our leads, Billy and Freddie, but refuses to follow up on that conflict meaningfully throughout the second act. Instead, the film follows a very plot-driven fetch quest where our Shazamily fights against the forces of evil known as The Daughters of Atlas. It’s very reminiscent of turning your brain off trash-tier 2000s superhero films rather than 80s kids movies. Although I doubt I would’ve cared as much if the film hadn’t turned around in the third act, right before the final fight, and pretended to have fully paid off their emotional toll. The film wants us to think that we’ve gone on a powerful journey with these characters that we know and love, which would work for a film strictly marketed toward kids, but this film is PG-13. It cements itself as a piece of art that has a substantial set of elements that older audience members can enjoy.

Despite the flimsy script, the cast really does try to make it work. Jack Dylan Grazer in particular gives a standout performance as the film’s co-lead, and alongside him, Zachary Levi is bouncing off the walls with loveable energy. Does Levi’s decision line up with his kid counterpart? Not particularly. I think Asher Angel and Zachary Levi have very different interpretations of their character, but Angel is in so little of the movie that I don’t think it matters. That’s unfortunate though as Asher Angel was one of the best parts of the last film and did fantastic with his emotional moments in the previous film. The rest of the Shazam siblings also did serviceably, in both the child performances, and the adult performances. Djimon Hounsou as The Wizard was my favorite performance in the film though as he gave a performance that was equal parts powerful and funny. The Daughters of Atlas played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler were also fun whenever they were on screen. 

None of the visuals of these films really stood out to me. The CGI was subpar, the costuming was passable (I enjoyed the fact that their lightning bolts lit up in dark rooms), and the cinematography was kind of boring. It easily could’ve been a much more visually interesting film, but here we are. 

Shazam! Fury of The Gods is not as good as it claims to be. In the final act of the film, they attempt to trick us into thinking that it was an emotional journey when in reality it was a true turn-your-brain-off experience. I wouldn’t be opposed to watching it again, but it would have to be in sequence with the original. Shazam! Fury of The Gods is a bland, passible 3 out of 5 cat paws for me.