It’s been a few years now since the first Shazam movie was released and boy has a lot changed over at Warner Bros & DC films. The studio was bought out by a reality TV juggernaut Discovery, Dwayne Johnson’s long gestating Black Adam killed off the new DCEU and James Gunn & Peter Safran were put in charge of the DC Studios that would create a shared universe across movies, television, animation and video games. All while this was happening in the background and the disastrous reception to DC’s last film Black Adam, Shazam : Fury of the Gods kept pressing on. After the smashing success of the first film with both audiences, critics and a hefty box office return, it was an obvious choice to continue this series with the Shazamily. After the three-year wait was the wait worth it? Fortunately, it is, Shazam Fury of the Gods builds on the premise of the original, this time incorporating the whole family of superheroes and dives deep into Greek mythology which helps the film to feel less of a generic monster invasion film. Newcomers Lucy Liu, Helen Mirren and Rachel Zegler are welcome additions, packing the film with girl power and a menacing and fun new villain for this story.
In the three years since the first film Billy Batson aka Shazam (Asher Angel/Zachary Levi) has been trying to keep his now superhero family fighting together. His close bond with brother Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer/Adam Brody) and adorable sister Darla (Meagan Goode/Faithe Herman) still evident but stretching as they are coming into their powers. Billy’s other siblings Mary (Grace Fulton), Pedro (Jovan Armand/ D.J. Cotrona) and Eugene (Ross Butler/Ian Chen) are known as the Philly Fiascos. Everything seems to be going fine until the daughters of Atlas led by Hespera (Helen Mirren) with Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) break free from their prison and set to take the powers of the gods back from the Shazamily and wreak havoc on Philadelphia.
This film is a lot of fun and normally that is a bit of a cop out about a movie like this, but it is the accurate way to describe it. It is the kind of film I watched in the 90’s growing up with my parents and siblings, there is that same vibe here of something for everyone to enjoy. The humour is still razor sharp and on point, with many of the jokes landing for most of the audience in my screening. There are even a few great quips at the expense of Marvel and the history of Shazam’s name (IFKYK!) The Sisters of Atlas are campy and fun as Mirren and Liu seem to be having a lot of fun in their roles. Mirren’s comedic timing is perfect and gets some of the biggest laughs in the film. Liu in comparison is a little more serious due to her character’s intentions but spending the majority of the movie flying around the sky on a dragon made out of wood, you get as much as you expect.
Visually everything has improved, you can see a heftier budget this time around with the locations and visual effects looking incredibly sharp helping Philadelphia and the Greek realm feel tangible. The Greek mythological creatures are all well-designed and extremely unique to this project, the unicorns in particular is a spectacular scene. Shazam’s new suit is more refined and the lack of light up logo on his chest, gives him a more mature look this time around.
Shazam : Fury of the Gods is exactly as you expect it to be, a fun, campy romp that you can take your friends and family to see and no matter their age will get something out of it. The focus on family is still central to the story here and the bond between the group home kids and their foster parents really stands out in this story. Time will only tell if the Shazamily will remain in the new DCU under James Gunn & Peter Safran, with this film being a Peter Safran production, the odds are good. For what it’s worth, this film is a fun ride and more fun superhero stories that are accessible for the whole family are worth checking out when they are this much fun.
Shazam : Fury of the Gods is in Australian cinemas now, it will release in other territories including the USA on March 17.
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