Courtesy, Warner Bros. 

Movie Review: Shazam! Fury of the Gods

07:00 March 21, 2023
By: David Vicari

This sequel to 2019s Shazam! is almost on par with the winning original, but not quite. While the new movie does entertain, the main problem with Shazam! Fury of the Gods is that it feels overstuffed.

I always dread writing a synopsis of a movie where there is just too much going on, but here it goes. The adventures continue for teenage Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who, as you will remember, has been given the power by the gods to become an adult superhero (Zachary Levi) when he utters the word "SHAZAM!". He has also shared his power with a group of teens he lives with at a foster home. Billy is worried about getting kicked out of his foster home when he turns 18, and he's also concerned that he is not respected as a superhero. Meanwhile, his best friend, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), becomes totally smitten with the new girl at school, Ann (Rachel Zegler). The big conflict for the heroes is the arrival of several ancient gods (Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu) who are in a ruthless search for a stolen - and all powerful - they can also find a magic apple that will grow into the Tree of Life - or Tree of Death in this case.

The movie is very busy juggling its many characters, but most of them seem to have their little moment. It's also nice to see reliable character actor Djimon Hounsou, as the god who gave Billy his powers, given more to do here then in the original, and even display a good sense of comedic timing.

Fury of the Gods has some cool effects, but it's so overloaded with digital created destruction and mayhem that it gets kind of tiring. I think of the fight sequence between Superman and the three Kryptonian villains from Superman II (1980) and how damn exciting it is, yet it's done on a smaller scale than anything we see here. Less truly is more, but I guess the powers that be want the digital effects on an unending loop.

Still, director David F. Sandberg and a game cast keep Fury alive with some heart and soul. You care about the good guys, and Mirren and Liu make a couple of formidable - and scary - villains.

There are also some fun little Easter Eggs in Fury of the Gods. There is a cameo by Michael Gray, who played Batson in the mid-1970s Saturday morning Shazam! TV show. There is also a rampaging cyclops here which looks very similar to the cyclops designed by the great stop-motion effects master Ray Harryhausen from the classic 1958 feature The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Then there is a pediatrician character named Dr. Dario Bava, a combination of the great Italian horror film directors Dario Argento and Mario Bava. Last, but certainly not least, there is a cool cameo at the conclusion.

Yeah, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is overwhelming at times, but there is still

some fun to be had.

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