Friday, March 17, 2023


FURY OF THE GODS, the sequel to DC’s (rare) hit SHAZAM! of 2019, has the unfortunate label of a lame duck movie. The main character and the universe he lives in are apparently set to be wiped clean when DC and parent company Warner Bros. introduce a new line of continuity in the next few years. None of that really matters when the screen lights up, but it does put FURY OF THE GODS in the position of using its limited time wisely. 


The Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, Rachel Zegler), arrive on Earth and re-assemble an all-powerful magic staff, which they intend to use to reclaim the power of the gods from Billy Batts (Asher Angel as a young teen, Zachary Levi as the superhero Shazam), and his siblings. 


Directed by SHAZAM! helmer David S. Sandberg, FURY OF THE GODS sets itself up as a little family drama mixed with a possible world-ending scenario brought forth by the Daughters of Atlas. While the daughters are unleashing havoc by brainwashing people, leveling stadiums and riding dragons, Billy has his own family-level concerns of aging out of his foster home, and trying to keep his team of foster-siblings together as they grow and find other ways to use their superpowers as individuals as opposed to a team. These two worlds are fine on paper, but land with a thud. The family drama bits are mentioned early on, forgotten about for an hour, and then quickly resolved by movie’s end. The world-ending threat is backed by a mythology that feels like it is being made-up-as-it-goes, with an endless stream of magic doors, floating libraries, sentient ink-pens, a magic apple, and a herd of unicorns. 


If that sounds like a lot, it is. FURY OF THE GODS is trying to go out with a bang, and it comes off as overload. Where the first film was simple and had the thrill of discovery to generate some charm, this sequel takes the kitchen-sink approach. They are trying too hard, as scenes that are supposed to be funny land as stupid, and characters that are supposed to be struggling with their own identities present as annoying. 


The big swings and misses keep on coming. Action sequences are a headache, jokes and one-liners mostly fall flat, a bizarre dream sequence with the head of the great Djimon Hounsou (reprising his role as a wizard), pasted on a woman’s body is cringe-worthy, and attempts to integrate the film into its larger universe feel very forced. 


Acting is all over the place. Shazam the character is played by Zachary Levi as an adult, and Asher Angel as a teen. While both actors are good, Shazam as an adult acts like a giddy ten-year-old while Billy acts like an angsty teen. Inconsistent and weird. Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu look gorgeous but are just blurting out their mythological world-salad lines. Rachel Zegler is a delight, and Meagan Good, as an adult version of one of Billy’s foster siblings, is a revelation. 


After a noisy climactic battle, FURY OF THE GODS offers a character death which feels un-earned, and then resurrects them five minutes later in another big swing and strikeout. The film then offers two post-credit scenes that offer a hint to the future of Shazam but are both pretty dumb. This is a mess of the gods, and that clean slate can’t come soon enough. 



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