[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope:
Shazam! Fury of the Gods

A superhero sequel letdown

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

March 25, 2023 – As often happens in sequels, there is a letdown in this Shazam! sequel, which brings back most of the actors from the original without the freshness or inventiveness of the first movie. There is still plenty of action and humor in this sequel, but it is very predictable.

The comic book character of Shazam dates back to 1939. Shazam was the first comic book superhero to make it into film with the 1941 Republic serial “Adventures of Captain Marvel.” A long-running lawsuit filed by D.C. Comics, argued that the Fawcett Publications Shazam character was a copy of Superman, which debuted a year earlier, in 1938. Eventually, the case was settled out of court and D.C. Comics finally acquired the rights to the character. Shazam is now a part of the so-called D.C. Extended Universe.

Part of the reason D.C. comics revived the Shazam character was to avoid copyright problems with Marvel Comics over the use of the Captain Marvel character. The 2019 Shazam! movie (12th installment in the DC Extended Universe) was very successful, so D.C. Studios quickly got to work on a sequel.

The sequel brings back most of the same main cast, as well as the same director, David F. Sandberg and one of the same writers, Henry Gayden. This time around, some gods are on the loose. The long-imprisoned daughters of Atlas, Hespera (played by Helen Mirren of “Red”) Kalypso (played by Lucy Liu of “The Man with the Iron Fists”) and Anthea (Rachel Zegler of “West Side Story”) are set free when Shazam broke the wizard's staff in the first movie.

As a result, the wizard (played by Djimon Hounsou of “Furious 7”) is imprisoned. Hespera and Kalypso break into a museum and recover the pieces of the wizard's staff. The wizard is forced to fix the staff, and that leads to a world of troubles, in which significant portions of Philadelphia are reduced to rubble.

The only thing standing between worldwide disaster is a boy, Billy Batson (Asher Angel, reprising his role) and his foster sisters Mary Bromfield (Grace Caroline Currey of “Fall”) and Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman, reprising her role) and his foster brothers Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer reprising his role) Pedro Peña (Jovan Armand, reprising his role) and Eugene Choi (Ian Chen, reprising his role). Billy Batson's foster parents, Rosa and Victor Vásquez (played by Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews, reprising their roles) also get in on the action this time.

Billy Batson is the chosen champion of mankind, gifted by the wizard with powers of the gods, which he activates by saying the name Shazam! This turns him into an adult superhero (played by Zachary Levi, reprising his role). His foster brothers and sisters, also transform into adult superheroes, except for his sister Mary, who is already an adult. She retains her appearance when transforming into a superhero. The adult superhero personas of Billy's foster siblings are played by Adam Brody (super Freddy) Ross Butler (super Eugene) D.J. Cotrona (Super Pedro) and Meagan Good (super Darla).

Things are bad enough, with the daughters of Atlas on the loose, but it gets worse when Kalypso goes rogue and decides to transform the world into a place hostile to humans. Her sisters Hespera and Anthea do not agree with her actions, believing she has gone too far. Wielding the wizard's staff, Kalypso is able to remove the powers of Shazam and his siblings, turning them back into mere humans. Billy is able to avoid this fate, but he finds himself fighting alone against Kalypso.

There is plenty of action and eye candy in this big scale fantasy film, but the storyline is muddy. The rules by which these people operate in this fantasy are not very clear or convincing. It helps having some good acting talent in this movie, and that makes up for some of the shortcomings in the plot. Helen Mirren, of course, is an Academy Award and BAFTA award winning actress, and Rachel Zegler is a Golden Globe winner. Djimon Hounsou is a double Oscar nominee. Zachary Levi and Lucy Liu have also won acting awards.

While this movie is not as good as the original 2019 film, it is still entertaining in terms of action and spectacle. It rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2023 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]