FILM REVIEW — “Shazam 2” still flies, but not quite as high
Published 12:02 am Friday, March 17, 2023
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods
New Line Cinema
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Starring Asher Angel, Zachary Levi, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, Rachel Zegler and Djimon Hounsou
2 ½ Stars
The first “Shazam!” was notable for its adolescent humor and the genuinely touching story of a young teen searching for his family.
Sure, there was a superhero origin story thrown in there as well, but it was the comedy and the emotion that really made the first movie fly.
That winning combination mostly continues with the sequel, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” in which our comic book hero and his family find themselves facing off against a trio of all-powerful gods from Greek mythology.
You can expect lots of action and special effects work, which is fine, but it’s the silly adolescent tone and the family-first message that make this second “Shazam!” still worth the ticket price, although the overall results aren’t quite up to the standards set by the original movie.
This is the point in the review where I would normally give you a quick story rundown, but the “Shazam 2” story is too generic to be worth mentioning. Just know that Atlas’ three daughters (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler) have come to reclaim their power on earth.
It’s up to Shazam and his family to stop them. Yawn. None of those plot elements truly resonate in this movie. The result is a surface-level story feels like something we’ve seen in dozens of other superhero flicks.
That’s also true for many of the action sequences and computer-generated monsters. I suppose that they are OK, but they don’t have any weight to them. Good action requires genuine stakes to be effective. That’s seldom the case in “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.”
These blockbuster moments mostly feel like padding until the inevitable final confrontation.
Those disappointing issues aside, the film does still work because of the characters. The bond between the two brothers (Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer) feels genuine, and I love how Zachary Levi is able to channel the teenage insecurity of his human character, even when he’s been transformed into an all-powerful superhero.
I also love how the rest of the foster family is given some time to bicker and bond, just like a real family would do. It’s great that the filmmakers flesh these characters out in the sequel.
As for the villains, Helen Mirren is captivating in her villainous role, I can watch her up on the big screen all day long. Her sisters don’t fare as well, but I think that their roles aren’t very well defined here, so perhaps that is to be expected.
The result is a movie where the baddies do bad things, and the heroes fight back heroically because they are following generic superhero conventions.
The story is entirely forgettable. Still, the film takes off whenever the movie stops long enough to let the characters interact. These are endearingly human characters, even when they’ve been transformed into their superhero counterparts.
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” is quite funny and filled with moments of genuine emotion. It’s not quite as fresh as the original film, but that’s the case with most sequels.
I wish that the story was stronger, the villains were better-defined and the action sequences felt like more than just throwaway skirmishes. Those are major problems with the movie, but there are still enough endearing moments to make “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” fly, although it’s losing altitude this time around.
Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.