Greetings and salutations, dear reader! back in 2019, two heroes going by the name of Captain Marvel duked it out in theaters for their respective franchises; Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel and DCEU’s Shazam! While Marvel’s Captain Marvel raked in $1.1B in the box office, and DC’s Shazam made a modest $360 million, but only one made audiences want a sequel. Fast forward to 2023, Shazam: Fury of the Gods hits cinemas, and well, it suffers what most sequels tend to be- mediocre.

The movie opens with a narration by Shazam (Zachery Levi) as he expresses his concerns to what he thinks is a psychiatrist but is actually a pediatrician instead. We learn that he feels unfit to be a hero the world needs and that there are far more qualified heroes to the job. Also, his growing hears of his foster siblings slowly starting to pull apart as group. Disappointed at himself, struggling to get any better at being a hero, and unsure where he truly fits overall. This is the major problem with Shazam as both a character and as a movie, is just disappoints you as nothing really goes anywhere.

Since the events of the 2019 film, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) and his super powered siblings have taken the roles of heroes in the city of Philadelphia, stopping crime and averting disasters with disappointing results. So bad that the city has gone so far to dubbed them as the “Philly Fiascoes” thanks to the media. Not only that, the group seems rather preoccupied with Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) using his hero persona (Adam Brody) to go on solo adventures, big sister Mary (Grace Currey) wanting to go to college, has yet to do so as to not abandon her family.

As for our villains this around, our Shazam-ly must face the threat of another family- the Daughters of Atlas- a trio of sister played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler, who seek the staff of power to restore their godly powers so that they may restore their dead world. Evident in the opening hours in the movie, the sisters will stop at nothing to get what they want. Like any sequel that has to do with family falling apart, said family must unite to stop said evil. While there’s motivation for what they’re trying to achieve, the Daughters of Atlas are rather boring and generic and aren’t all that threatening.

Daughters of Atlas

My biggest gripe with Shazam: Fury of the Gods is Shazam himself, like I said before. His character in this movie is rather annoying, and makes you want less of him which isn’t great for a titular hero. Zachary Levi did an amazing job capturing that child-like wonder of being a superhero in the first movie, but this time it borders on obnoxious. Screenwriters Henry Gayden (Shazam 2019) and Chris Morgan (Fast and Furious franchise) have managed to write in some cringeworthy and just unfunny jokes that only makes sense if you follow pop culture, and are able to spot the reference.

In spite of cringy humor, irritating performance by Zachary Levi, and bland villains, the major problem with this movie is the lack of proper character development. Throughout the movie, each of the Shazam-ly have their own issues to deal with but movie doesn’t afford much time for these plot points to be resolve or realized. Take Mary for example, her desire to go to college is brought up a few times in conversation, but nothing is resolve in the end. Another can be seen in Darla’s character (Faith Herman and Meagan Goode in her hero persona) has two notable characteristics; she likes Skittles and Unicorns. While there is payoff for this later in the movie, it doesn’t allow her character to grow. Maybe this is an issue of a large ensemble cast.

There are some bright spots too in this movie with some of the more interesting moments go to Freddy, who seems to be only character with the most development. Freddy is your typical high school nerd, the one that gets picked on by bullies, so you do sorta root for the guy. And it is also Freddy who befriends a new student Annie, who we learn later is one of the Daughters of Atlas, Anthea. By night though, he takes on his superhero persona to fight crime and to step out of Shazam shadow so to speak. Both Grazer and Brody are fun to watch on screen with Grazer having great comedic moment with the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou), who doesn’t want to deal with Freddy’s antics. Another, when both Grazer and Zegler’s characters are on form a charming couple during the movie’s more quieter moments.

Director David F. Sandberg’s follow up to the fan favorite 2019 Shazam doesn’t give the audience a real reason to care about what’s happening on screen. Sure, there are some tear jerkers near the end of the movie, those moments fall flat without any worthwhile buildup. We don’t get to have any real connections with these characters, with the fights feeling uninspired despite cool concepts of a fire breathing-wooden-dragon and dark unicorns in the mix. Not to mention, Billy Batson the child from of Shazam is barely in the movie, with Asher Angel having less than 10 minutes of screen time- a far cry from the previous movie.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods does have some fun to be had, and if you just need something to play in the background or have nothing to watch, then just watch once it hits streaming platforms- this is that type of movie. With recent reports of diminishing box-office revenue, this might be the last we see of Shazam-ly

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