Shazam! Fury of the Gods review: Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu looking cool can’t save the pointless DC sequel
Shazam!, released in 2019, was the story of Billy (Asher Angel), a teenager who was given the ability to transform into an off-brand adult Superman (Zachary Levi) with the simple scream of the film’s title. It’s rarely held up as a highlight in DC’s catalog today, but at a time when the studio’s production so often felt exhaustingly disastrous, it was refreshing to see a superhero film that emphasized sweetness and sincerity.
What a difference four years make. Shazam!Continuation, wrath of the godsShe was now sent defenseless into DC’s cinematic no man’s land. The film marks one of the last gasps of an old regime in the studio, now under the control of Peter Safran and Protector of the Galaxy Director James Gunn. Her universe will likely lack the disheveled handling of tone and continuity that marked the tenure of her predecessor, Walter Hamada. His DCU could never decide whether to emulate Marvel or do the complete opposite, so you’d get movies that embody the very best (The Suicide Squad) and the worst (suicide squad) of recent comic fare. wrath of the gods lands in the frustrating middle: a film that’s not without promise, but feels far too messy and corporatized to have any real affection.
Here we are thrust into the intricate realm of ancient Greek mythology, namely the daughters of Atlas: Hespera (Helen Mirren), Calypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Zegler). Shazam’s powers were bestowed upon him by a sorcerer (Djimon Hounsou) through the use of a magical staff who has his own ties to the Society of Old Gods. The sisters need this staff to carry out a plan for revenge in the mortal realm. There’s bad blood everywhere.
There’s a lot of groundwork that needs to be laid for all of this to make sense, so wrath of the gods is routinely punctuated to allow characters to congregate in dimly lit sets and rattle through as much exposure as possible. The action sequences are treated similarly – for a film that celebrates the limitless potential of the mythical, half of those scenes are still set in abandoned warehouses. Mirren, Liu, and Zegler seem to have understood (precisely) that all that is required of them is to look cool in their costumes and then cash their checks. It may not be practical to build an entire movie about how sexy it is when Mirren casually adjusts her crown, but it’s also the only thing of real value wrath of the gods has to offer.
Director David F. Sandberg and his writers Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan don’t have the space – or just don’t care enough – to actually prove how a Shazam! Film should look and move. The quips in the script are either related to other Warner Bros properties (game of Thrones, Annabelle And Lord of the Rings everyone’s looking) or their competitors over at Disney. A contracted cameo plays out with the same insane bombast as a wrestling gig. A key scene is just a promotional connection with Skittles.
Jack Dylan Grazer, who plays Billy’s BFF Freddie, is asked to single-handedly carry the film’s entire emotional weight here – Angel has been largely jettisoned – and he does it very well. They should give him a raise if they ever do one of those movies again. But as a series of post-credits scenes roll by, each teasing movie that might never happen now, it’s hard not to ask one key question: Do something Shazam! wrath of the gods not really matter?
Directed by David F Sandberg. Cast: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren. 12A, 130 minutes.
‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ opens in cinemas on Friday, March 17th
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/shazam-2-sequel-review-release-b2301405.html Shazam! Fury of the Gods review: Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu looking cool can’t save the pointless DC sequel