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Review: Shazam! Fury of the Gods – “A fun-filled superhero film”

Shazam! (2019) introduced audiences to Billy Batson (Asher Angel) the teen who could, by saying the name “Shazam!”, become a superhero played by the effortlessly likable and charming Zachary Levi. Now we are reintroduced to Billy as an older and not much wiser teenager. Afraid of aging out of the foster system and losing his new family (who also have superpowers), Billy spends a lot of the film worrying about his new family growing apart all while fighting the Furies. Apropos of the serious core of Billy’s plight the film is incredibly fun, striking that careful balance between the gravity of having god-like powers against the humour of everyday life that so many superhero films have struggled with recently (Thor: Love and Thunder springs to mind). If you liked the first film you’ll love this sequel.

The Furies are played by Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu, turning in a solid performance as demigods who want to take back the magical powers that Billy and his family have. The Fury sisters are a unique set of villains, out for revenge but constantly bickering. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between two warring families with god-like powers. When the two families clash the fights are impressively choreographed and entertaining, though it does feel unfair to see Zachary Levi punch Helen Mirren and throw her around. From their first introductory scene, they show how menacing they can be, anyone who wanted to see Shazam fight Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) will be happier we got to see a far more interesting and unique clash instead.

Billy and his ‘Shazamily’ try to be the local superheroes in Philadelphia and start by saving everyone on a collapsing bridge. Their youthful optimism pushes up against the seriousness of the disaster happening around them and they are dubbed the “Philadelphia Fiascos” for their efforts. As the Furies descend on the city bringing mayhem and death, David F. Sandberg returns to direct and his background in horror movies is well-placed to find the humour in the darker moments without comprising the momentum. The Furies each to try to take the powers away from Shazam and his siblings, culminating in a big brawl. While DC has a habit of pitting a superhero against a big CGI monster at least this time it isn’t out of the blue and is set up beforehand.

Zachary Levi and the rest of the children-turned-adult superheroes, bring back that wide-eyed wonder that has been missing from the genre for years. There’s been a lot of disarray behind-the-scenes with DC/Warner Brothers, from the delay of The Flash to the re-hiring to the re-firing of Henry Cavill as Superman. It’s a shame to see a fun-filled superhero film get caught in the crosshairs. Even if there are two end-credit scenes that promise a more cohesive universe. Whatever you think of the drama, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is worth your time. So when you get to the cinema just remember to say the name.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods hits cinemas on 17th March 2023.

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