Shazam! Fury of the Gods
by Hope Madden
Filmmaker David F. Sandberg followed up the surprise horror hit Lights Out with a step into the Conjuring franchise, helming 2017’s Annabelle: Creation. And then in 2019 he took a sharp left turn to deliver the triumphantly adolescent superhero gem, Shazam!
This he followed with a literally four-hour film of himself flipping off the camera, titled I Flip You Off for Four Hours. I swear to God. And then back for the Shazam! sequel, Fury of the Gods.
Since he last saved the world and shared his superpowers with his foster siblings, Billy Batson has gotten clingy. Controlling, even. He’s about to turn 18 and age out of the foster system, and deep down, he’s afraid he’s going to lose his family.
Plus, there are these angry gods who want their power back, a power stolen from them by a wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and given away to a bunch of dumbass kids (Billy and those siblings).
Helen Mirren is a god. (I always expected as much.) And while the film suffers from the kind of superficial storytelling and sequel bloat that often plagues the second episode in a franchise, she’s glorious.
She’s also funny and badass – an excellent addition to the series. She’s joined by Lucy Liu as the angrier of the gods to look out for.
And even though there are multiple villains, the real problem is the multiple heroes and their multiple alter egos. Billy (Asher Angel) has five siblings, each of whom is now a hero, so that’s twelve characters to track. Plus mom and dad. Though the cast, Sandberg and screenwriters Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan offer clever shorthand characterizations, the result feels too slight.
Zachary Levi continues to shine, delivering the same infectious, boyish good nature that made the original such a charmer. And Sandberg’s direction continues to favor wonder over action, although the action continues to impress – not wow, but impress.
The result is a perfectly entertaining, thoroughly good natured opportunity to see Helen Mirren beat the tar out of some kids.