We still don’t know what the fate of the heroes we met before James Gunn’s arrival at DC’s leadership, such as Aquaman or Shazam, with sequels yet to be released in the recently announced new cinematic universe, will be, but it is not necessary to enjoy ‘Shazam! The fury of the gods’.
Without looking at all that chaos of the universe, the first ‘Shazam!’ achieved in 2019 more than double what it cost and more than 60% of its collection totally outside the United States (perhaps that’s why this new one starts in Rome?). This is how this already consolidated (and hopefully future) franchise began: with a barely 100 million dollar budget, a very carefree childish tone and a fairly unknown cast. These three ingredients have grown tremendously in its sequel. Very wisely and (almost) at all times, it leaves behind all expectations of a universe or being an origin story like the previous one to focus on what really has to be a good sequel and superhero movie: a continuation more powerful than the previous one, with new memorable characters that amplify and transform the already known ones. All this is achieved by being a blockbuster solely focused on entertaining and having fun. On both counts, it’s a 10.
Everything that involves getting young
This sequel matures at the same time as its protagonists. The dramatic center of the film is the family and how difficult it can be to maintain it while one grows up. There are many more dramas than in the first one and all of them are much more interesting. and empathizing in this more adult sequel and on steroids in all aspects, from the script to the action. Adult does not mean serious or dark, it just means He is no longer childish and allows himself to take himself more seriously while making unforced jokes. As a result, it has entertainment and fun for the whole family, very much in keeping with the message of this film, more Disney than Warner and the latest Disney.
This jump to the youthful tone makes ‘Shazam: The Fury of the Gods’ is somewhat less fun or horny than its predecessor, but no less entertaining for that. It is played with several recurring gags that evolve to consummation in surprising ways and with a lot of sense for the story (the unicorns!). These are superficial jokes, but not gratuitous. Throughout the movie, the superficial is not bad, but rather means pure entertainment and fun. He only plays against that not-yet-adult tone in a few kindergarten jokes and, above all, in the constant overexplanatory dialogues about going over plans. Not only is time wasted dragging out scenes, but there are characters like Djimon Hounsou’s magician whose only role is to remark over and over what is happening and why, as if he were explaining it to a 3-year-old.
The central romantic drama of the film with Freddy (Jack Grazer) also flirts too much with the superficiality of Netflix or Disney Channel TV movies and their stereotypes of men and women. But Although it doesn’t revolutionize its genres, ‘Shazam: The Fury of Gods’ also fails to explore any of them and manages to be everything a sequel should be. It’s nice to see too a relaxed superhero movie solely focused on making a good sequel, with its congruent hero’s journey, regardless of transcendence or multiverses.
Our ideal superheroic family
At the end of ‘Shazam: The Fury of the Gods’ it is easy to feel the same emotional homesickness as at the end of ‘House of Twelve’, since each member of the cast is wonderful and we fall in love with all of them as if we were one more member of this family numerous. As in Steve Martin’s film, each child has a different (double) personality or a characteristic phrase/gesture that is repeated and in the end you know a lot about it. All their dynamics as brothers and superheroes are beautiful and internationally recognizable. The price of this is that the film prioritizes children (who are no longer children or secondary) before adults. His superhero alter-egos exude charisma in every shot as if they were stellar cameos and for that reason he is sorely missed to the best known DJ Cotrona and Adam Brody. Still, this decision makes sense with the plot and allows for a very fun climax with children/young people.
Of them, Jack Dylan Grazer is the one who takes a step forward as the revelation of the film thanks to its subplot that really seems like the main one, especially when sharing it with the real gem of the cast: a Rachel Zegler far superior to everyone who eats the camera in every shot no matter what she’s doing in it. Freddy’s actor thus steals the spotlight from a sadly wasted Asher Angel, who does end up being more of a cameo with an interesting plot about growing up relegated to the beginning and end. In his character, the balance clearly hurts the human side, but once again it is balanced.
Zachary Levi stands as the quintessential hero of the film, taking the best of his fellow universe, but without their pressures.: It’s epic without being Superman, serious without being Batman, horny without being Flash and idealistic without being Wonder Woman. The script and acting hone all of this to the right point with his personal touch. Levi is Shazam, the character is already tailored for him and it seems that he was born to be this superhero with a boyish spirit. What a job so well achieved but difficult to do it both youth and adult. Hopefully his actor is right and this is not the end of his Shazam. We need heroes this effective and without higher aspirations.
The ideal mythological comic
In the funny final credits, when seeing the many action scenes of the film recreated as a comic, one realizes that yes, he has seen all those feats recreated as is in constant cool scenes. ‘Shazam: The Fury of the Gods’ is very spectacular in capital letters, a great movie with constant action. Its two hours and ten minutes go by very quickly with a very high rate of fights and chases that shine a lot on the screen, especially in the stunning wide shots that could be inserted in any blockbuster twice the budget. The entire production design is very daring to earn the well-deserved title of great blockbuster on billboards, despite the fact that in short distances its smaller invoice is revealed: the hand-to-hand fights and some finishes in the backgrounds lose all the epicness of the rest of the film, but at least they don’t reach the foam board level of ‘Justice League’.
The Swedish director David F. Sandberg knows how to make better use of the few basic powers with which he plays (force, lightning and little else) than in the first one, to the point of getting some of the best shots of the film with slow motion and a game of the axes of the buildings as if it were the mirror world of ‘Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange)’. Also, as a good Warner employee, deploys with total creativity (and surprising freedom for a studio film) a range of monsters and bugs ready to make you laugh and pull out all kinds of action toys.
The ingredient to add epicity to this family dynamic has been a well justified mythological plot as a sequel: the daughters of Atlas want to recover the power that was stolen from them and given to these children at the end of ‘Shazam!’. Precisely this magic word is the excuse to talk a lot about gods in a very adventurous mythology, not deep, but as entertaining and funny as the saga of ‘The mummy’. It’s also close to the Percy Jackson mythology, but without such a childish finish. It is true that there is no expert mythological study and the portrayal is more manual, but, as we warned before, this film does not need to reach that level of depth. He is very aware of his aspirations and those that he has overboard. For that, she has the invaluable rise in importance given by the sisters Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Hespera (Helen Mirren). This first one is extremely dedicated in every shot, remembering how he could have been so intimidating in ‘Kill Bill’. For her part, the veteran actress of ‘La Reina (The Queen)’ is very generous, giving that importance to her character without being too serious, but without being as self-parodic as in the ‘Fast & Furious’ saga. .
The director gives them the first scene of the film shot as if it were one of his horror movies (‘Annabelle: Creation’, ‘Never turn off the light’), to give them the same superiority and unbeatability of Imhotep’s awakenings in the saga starring by Brendan Fraser in the early 2000s.
Why, DC, why?
The main mistake of the film is the same as that of almost all human beings: comparing themselves with others and, in response, boycotting themselves out of insecurity. ‘Shazam: The Fury of Gods’ works perfectly as a film in itself and as a sequel, expanding all the action, humor, characters and mythology of the first installment in the gigantic way that we have analyzed. Thus, The worst thing about the film is when, in addition to being true to itself and its own saga, it tries to be true to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).. In its first trailerthe protagonist compares himself to all these more mainstream superheroes, stating that “I am just me”. That was more than enough, friend Shazam.
Some DC Universe-brand visual jokes do work, but the rest remain dispensable and slightly forced humorous references to the style of the early UCM. Those executive flashes in the background are forgivable compared to a forced, utterly absurd decision that didn’t need the plot at all. and given too much importance when it would have worked much more as a surprising post-credits scene. With this twist, the sequel ceases to be itself to be one more product of a failed machine, to the point of reaching a horrible and embarrassing resolution based without any sense on this decision. The film was already epic and daring without the need for these additions that betray more than they contribute.
Here DC skates again and reminds us what kind of movies they want (and don’t need or should) make. Bad for them to put it in and bad for Warner to promote itbelieving that this way they will attract more audiences without seeing that they are shooting themselves in the foot for not trusting the good film they already had.
Forgetting universes and expectations, the movie itself works in all the ways it can without having anything especially memorable. It won’t change your life, but neither do summer readings and we look for them and need them because of how they entertain us and how they work to disconnect when we meet with family and friends. That’s what the film is: a comic without great aspirations other than that of a great adventure as epic and beautiful as possible. Everything is more and better in this highly recommended sequel for absolutely everyone, like one more great adventure than you’ll see in a shopping center in summer and you can sum it up in three words: “wow, how cool.” Thus, ‘Shazam: The Fury of the Gods’ is a youth comic about mythology made into a blockbuster.
The best: The level of everything goes up a lot, especially in the action. Zachary Levi as the ideal hero and every shot of Rachel Zegler.
Worst: The treacherous resolution and the childish dialogues.