Shazam! Fury of the Gods is the newest DC superhero film for 2023. And yet again, this Shazam sequel has disappointed the audience compared to the first film. The film's director David F. Sandberg toned down the cynicism and sentimentality that often defines modern superhero movies. However, the common lack of creativity in such films caused by creative committees makes it inevitable to flop.
After Doctor Sivana’s defeat in the first film, the sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods follows Billy Batson and his foster family as they fight a trio of sorceresses seeking vengeance against their father, Atlas. While the first movie generated excitement from Billy's discovery of his powers and the foster siblings' discoveries, the sequel focuses on the team's superhero antics, leading to an effects-heavy action flick.
The movie's weakness lies in its lack of focus on Billy Batson's character, instead favouring the over-the-top performance of Zachary Levi as Shazam. The action scenes are uninspired and poorly directed, failing to live up to their intended excitement.
The film also wastes the talents of Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren as the central villains, who are given little to do or say beyond their roles as magical antagonists.
Some of the mythical creatures featured in the movie are imaginative and scary, but even they are overshadowed by forced humour, perhaps taking inspiration from recent Marvel shows which are desperately trying to be funny,
The movie's strengths lie in its warm and clever adolescent super-drama, as Billy struggles with ageing out of his family and his surrogate brother, Freddy. While Levi's over-the-top performance as Shazam is engaging, it fails to explore the character's underlying struggles as Billy.
On the other hand, Freddy is still anxious, nerdy, and witty, and his increased presence on the screen is a typical strategy used in sequels.
However, the film does not focus enough on family drama-esque themes like Billy's concerns regarding ageing out of the foster care system and leaving his family behind, instead highlighting underdeveloped supporting characters.
Levi's portrayal of Shazam brings goofy and unfiltered teenage energy to the film. Still, his humorous character doesn’t make up for the lacklustre action sequences even though there were no short of them throughout the film.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods might be a light-hearted and entertaining superhero film, but the sequel fails to capture the joy and heart of the original, and the future of the Shazam franchise is uncertain.