If an AI ChatBot were to write and direct a superhero movie, I'd imagine it would turn out exactly like "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." A movie so generic, that it was actually painful to watch.
The "Big"-meets-"Superman" premise of "Shazam!" should have worked, but through two "Shazam!" movies, it's clear that this a lackluster character and franchise. I wasn't a fan of the first "Shazam!" but the second one holds even less charm, less magic. Much of it, I think, has to do with its lack of a good villain...and really, how many truly good comic book villains are there that haven't already been used up across the cinematic board?
The team of six teenagers, "led" by Billy Batson (Asher Angel) are coming to terms with their newly-acquired superpowers, granted to them at the end of the first film. By saying the mystical word, "Shazam!" they instantly transform into an adult-version of themselves, who also possesses super-human abilities. They are using these powers for good, sneaking out of their parents houses and meeting in a makeshift "underground lair" where they try to hone their heroic skills.
But the Gods - well, certain Gods - are quite furious about a magical staff that was broken in twain (or something like that), so sisters Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) set out to retrieve it and harness its unstoppable powers. Naturally, Team Shazam! gets in their way.
Heroes? Check. Villains? Check. Magical object at the center of all the trouble? check. Loads and loads of CGI? Double-check. Snarky comments and one-liners? Check. "Shocking" cameo? Check, and yawn.
Throw in the fact that the candy Skittles has the most egregious product placement in any film since Reese's Pieces in "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" over four decades ago, and you have yourself a shameless corporate commodity that exists simply to make money, and plenty of it.
There are no real stakes, nothing of consequence, and no growth (well, the kids literally grow, but not in any other meaningful way). The "fun" of the first film - the excitement of discovering their new powers and how to use them - is long gone. But there are a lot of fights, lots of shit crashing into each other, and more than a few pointless action sequences that look to extend this mess into a reasonable timeframe, so that it can qualify as a movie and not a Saturday Morning Cartoon.
Did I just date myself with that reference? Oh well. "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" means nearly nothing, and that might be reduced fully to zero if you consider the massive DC Cinematic Universe shake-up that's going on, that might make this entire world and its characters and events non-canon. Sure, this might be a "popcorn" movie that at least provides a temporary escape from reality, but I'd almost prefer reality to this mindlessness.
Instead of yelling "Shazam!" I wanted to yell another word to describe this movie, but that just wouldn't be nice.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy.
Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes.
Starring: Zachary Levi, Helen Mirren, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Diedrich Bader, Meagan Good, Asher Angel, Grace Caroline Currey, Ross Butler, Cooper Andrews, Jovan Armand.
Directed by David F. Sandberg ("Shazam!", "Lights Out," "Annabelle: Creation").
"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" is in theaters on Friday, March 17th, 2023.
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