Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Director: David F Sandberg
Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, DJ Cotrona, Grace Caroline Currey, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren, Jovan Armand
Distributor: Warner Bros
Runtime: 130 mins. Reviewed in Mar 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Supernatural themes and violence

The Wizard gives some Philadelphia youngsters superhero powers. This time they are confronted by the three Daughters of Atlas looking to re-establish their power.

DC World Junior. After the success of Shazam! in 2019, a sequel seemed to be in demand. However, this is a superhero show for youngsters. This reviewer, at a cinema complex, suddenly heard an 11-year-old boy standing near the poster for Shazam! excitedly shouting to his parents in eager anticipation. So, this rather long action adventure is for him and his peers.

Actually, the basic idea is not bad. A wizard from ancient Greek mythology turns up in a neighbourhood in Philadelphia, deciding that a group of adopted youngsters should be endowed with superhero powers, all crying out Shazam! With consequent thunderous rumblings and, there they are, physically changed, older – but, the drawback for them, and for audience appreciation of them, they retain the limitations, especially of mind and understanding, of children. The central character, Billy, is referred to several times as an idiot, immature… And he is, despite the fact that he looks like Zachary Levi in a parallel-to-Superman costume and cloak.

The film relies on action and, perhaps even more, on special effects galore. There is flying through the air and catching fallen victims, lots of fights and confrontations, all kinds of strange creatures including a monstrous Dragon (with Lucy Liu riding it in her quest for power). The problem concerns a powerful staff from the past, kept in a museum, and sought after by three of the daughters of Atlas (6000 years old as one of them reveals), a powerful golden apple, and, the wizard (straining credibility) relying on these transformed youngsters to rectify the world situation – and to save the city of Philadelphia from disaster.

A lot of the action focuses on Freddy who needs a crutch to walk, encountering a charming young girl, Ann (the rather luminous Rachel Zegler, Maria from Spielberg’s West Side Story). She is charmed by him but has a great difficulty in so far as her older sisters, Hesperia (Mirren) and Kalypso (Liu) want her to spy on the superheroes.

At the core of the film is certainly one mystery – how was Mirren persuaded to take part in this film. Mirren, always the supreme artist, delivers her lines as if she were reciting Shakespeare or impersonating the Queen.

So, with all the special effects, with all the threats to Philadelphia, with Billy having some self-doubts, with his alter ego doing all the heroics but too often sounding as if he is auditioning for Dumb and Dumber, or a new franchise called Dork and Dorkier, this film may satisfy the youngest target audience. However, for adults, for parents accompanying their children, it may prove too silly, some of it too ludicrous, unbelievable – or, as a polite critic trying to find the acceptable word, “juvenile”.

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