The Clubhouse Podcast
Rob Reviews "Shazam! Fury of the Gods"
One of the things that made Shazam! work for me was how different its tone was in comparison to everything else DC was doing in live-action film AND television. In a time where everyone else is embracing “dark and broody” (and there’s nothing wrong with that at all), the first film did its best to remind me that there is room for a family adventure both in the seats and on the screen in the genre especially from a director in David F. Sandberg who was mostly known for dark, creepy, and scary. Sure, this was a risky commitment since there was really no way Billy Batson and his family could fit into the rest of the universe DC was creating (for the most part), but there is also nothing wrong with that. They did find a way to make a tangential connection, and that was enough for me.
This time around for Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the story of Batson and company continues as they have become more well-known in their hometown of Philadelphia albeit for not the best of reasons. They are still finding their way not only through being powered but just being kids all trying to forge their own paths in the world. A new challenge arises for them as the Daughters of Atlas in Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) come to our world after claiming the staff that can give them more power and take it away from others as they search for a mythical fruit that can avenge what was taken from their father and in turn destroy all that we know.
What I really dug about this film is how it actually matures versus its predecessor. Now roll with me here: one of the things that makes superhero stories evergreen is that their characters are just that. The difference when they are brought to the big screen is that Father Time is undefeated, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods actually does a good job addressing this. Besides being a foster family, these kids are all dealing with life and family in their own way and given the range of the actors playing them it makes sense. From dealing with the opposite gender to embracing who you are, each character has its own arc within the larger story that made me understand their issues while not overshadowing the main plot.
If there is an issue for me with this film, it lies in the chronology of the script itself. There are certain points that I felt could and should have been mentioned earlier in the film to help give some semblance of the resolution of those points with more impact. Even the method of how those points are revealed is well-established by the time the film gets there, so there really is no reason that these things had to be done in the middle of the third act.
Let me also be clear on something else: since the kids are maturing in this film, the story itself does a bit of that as well. There is a bit of adult language and some of the imagery has a level of violence that the little ones may not deal with well, but it is by no means on the level that DC has brought to the silver screen up to this point. It felt like this film was supposed to grow with its core audience with the rest of us along for the ride, and I am alright with that.
I truly hope that this film series is able to stick around at least a bit longer to remind all of us that it’s okay to have a superhero story that we can laugh both at and with while entertaining us and reminding us that at the center of it all truly is family, and the Shazam! films seem to be doing just that.