It was my wife who insisted on seeing the original Shazam!, which of course meant that I would be seeing Shazam!. While she fondly recalled reading the comics as a kid, all I remembered was the cheesy live-action TV show that was part of CBS’ Saturday morning line-up back in the ‘70s. Ugh.
So off to the theater we went. She really enjoyed it, and I was surprised at how much I did, too. Not that my expectations were low or anything, but I’ve certainly learned to approach DC movies with tempered expectations (and I mostly blame Zack Snyder for that). However, Shazam! kept things breezy and fun, underscored by an amusing performance from Zachary Levi as the titular character. In a way, this film was to the DC Universe what Ant-Man was to Marvel. Could I have personally skipped the theater and waited for Shazam! on home video? Sure, but it was a hell of a lot better than I expected.
Still, I had similarly tempered expectations for Shazam! Fury of the Gods, mainly because…well, it’s a sequel. Surprisingly, it is equally enjoyable, with most of the cast returning to once-again save Philadelphia, this time from a couple of disgruntled gods. They’re played by Helen Mirren & Lucy Liu, two daughters of Atlas trying to get their hands on the same Wizard’s staff Billy Batson (Zachary Levi) broke in half at the end of the first film.
|Billy belts out a showtune.|
But once it settles into the conflict at hand, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is pretty entertaining. Like the first film, it’s frequently quite funny and features an amusing, likable hero. He may not be the brightest guy in the room, sometimes acting before he thinks, but that’s part of his charm and he always has good intentions. This time, however, the film’s MVPs might be Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s best friend, Freddy, and Djimon Hounsou as Shazam. Forced to work together after being imprisoned, their bickering banter is often hilarious. And, of course, the ageless Dame Mirren makes any movie better.
Despite underperforming in theaters, Shazam! Fury of the Gods succeeds where Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania recently failed…maintaining the same congenial, comic tone of the original and refraining from fixing things that weren't broken in the first place. Perhaps not the most adventurous approach to movie making, but it exceeded my tempered expectations. At the very least, it deserves to find a bigger audience at home.
FEATURETTES - “Let’s Make a Sequel”; “The Rock of Eternity: Decked Out”; “The Shazamly Reunion”; “The Zac Effect”; “Sisterhood of the Daughters of Atlas”; “Play by Play: Scene Breakdown” (focuses on four FX-driven scenes); “The Mythology of Shazam!”
AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director David F. Sandberg.
INCLUDES DVD & DIGITAL COPIES