One of many issues that made “Shazam!” so participating, entertaining, and completely different was that it introduced humor, an endearing irreverence, and an exploration and improvement of character that glad the initiated but additionally drew within the unfamiliar. It felt pure, filled with vigor, and impressed.
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An try to recapture that with “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” manages to really feel like an excessive amount of extra and in addition not sufficient on the identical time. Whereas the sky is the restrict in so many areas, together with creatively and narratively, manner an excessive amount of right here feels flat, caught on the bottom, and even labored. There’s a distinction between leaning into one thing and pushing it.
Within the sequel, issues aren’t fairly going to plan for Billy Batson, performed by Asher Angel, and the opposite youngsters in his foster household. Except for battling their real-life identities as youngsters, their ham-fisted makes an attempt to save lots of the day as superheroes in Philadelphia make them front-page information for the mistaken causes. Throw in a facet story a few Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman having a crush on a mysterious new lady at his faculty, and the inspiration is laid.
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In the meantime, out of the blue, three historic gods, the Daughters of Atlas, flip as much as declare the magical employees that was damaged in half within the first movie and takes again the magic that was stolen from them and bestowed on Batson and co. Cue a collection of battles between the 2 sides as they battle for final energy and world domination, leading to Shazam!, as soon as once more performed by Zachary Levi, and his workforce’s skills being eliminated. All this performs out inside the metropolis underneath a magical dome created by the vengeful sisters to forestall exterior assist from coming to the rescue.
Helen Mirren performs Hespera, Lucy Liu is Kalypso, and Rachel Zegler performs Anthea, collectively often known as the Daughters of Atlas. There’s a star energy there that may impress, and they’re enjoyable to look at, however that’s about it. On the subject of Mirren and Liu, the menace is pantomime-like, and the villainy has a contact of “Energy Rangers” to it. The performances lack the ability of the peril they pose. Out of the three, Zegler’s character is essentially the most participating, getting a greater crack of the whip.
The identical could be mentioned for almost all of “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” Whereas returning director David F. Sandberg serves up a feast of concepts and visuals, it lacks the punch and sheer thrill, and whereas the viewers will get fed, it’s bland and lacks the fuller taste of the primary movie. Whereas “Shazam!” drew audiences in and engaged them, right here it feels rather more like they’re a spectator. The identical connection isn’t there.
Even when it fails to comply with by means of on the promise, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” fills the display and doesn’t scrimp on the motion sequences, which come thick and quick, however whereas they ship on spectacle and scale, they fail on thrills. It doesn’t translate practically as successfully as within the first movie. The sequel is a largely handsome film however tries so arduous to take all the things up a notch that it seems like they ignored upping the substance to match the model.
One of many largest issues that pull you out of the movie is the surprisingly inconsistent and infrequently distractingly off-kilter among the results are. It’s the visible equal of a film’s sound and imaginative and prescient being simply sufficient out of synch to irk. If that was an oversight, it’s disappointing, however it’s a alternative that doesn’t end up in addition to maybe was anticipated. It’s most noticeable within the motion sequences, the place it typically appears virtually cartoonish and typically simply low-cost. There are moments within the movie’s finale the place it appears and comes off extra like a photograph op on a studio tour than an precise sequence in a film, however even perhaps worse, legendary beasts that appear like they arrive from a much smaller budgeted movie. Worse, what’s on display greater than a few times provides off robust “R.I.P.D.” vibes.
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” has its moments, and it’s clear that loads of effort and time went into it, however it will possibly’t stick the touchdown after such a clean flight the primary time round. It’s a bumpy and uneven experience with many narrative threads that don’t ship on their promise, feeling a little bit skinny, misplaced, and wasted. Levi gives extra of the identical within the lead function, however not a lot we haven’t seen and loved earlier than, which is disappointing, however a returning wizard, Djimon Hounsou, fills these areas properly. Probably the most reliable components within the sequel is the comedy which, when it lands, has you keen the weather to comply with swimsuit. Darla, performed by Faithe Herman, will get and deserves one of many film’s largest laughs with an impressed line that serves properly as some product placement.
The primary movie was an actual win for the DCEU and introduced one thing distinctive to the desk, even interesting to many from exterior the fan base. All of the elements are right here, however it simply doesn’t come collectively in fairly the identical manner. “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” will not be unhealthy, however it will possibly’t maintain a robust employees to its predecessor. Each franchise has its blips, however the magic has fizzled right here. Lightning hasn’t struck twice, and it’s an actual disgrace. [C+]
“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” opens Friday, March 17, by way of Warner Bros.