Shazam! Fury Of The Gods Review: Shazam has lost his pizazz

A big-hearted family theme saves the day in Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

Ross Butler, Adam Brody, Grace Caroline Currey, Zachary Levi, Meagan Good and D.J. Cotrona in Shazam! Fury of the Gods
(Image: © Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

What to Watch Verdict

For all its big-scale action, this sequel is very much in the original’s shadow.


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    Family dynamic gives the film heart

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    Zachary Levi is as charming and energetic as ever

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    Appeals to younger film fans


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    Comedy rarely lands

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    Disappointing special effects

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    Comes close to outstaying its welcome

Remember Shazam!? He’s been uncharacteristically quiet since we first saw him in 2019, so you’re forgiven if you don’t. Quick re-cap: he’s foster kid Billy Batson who, when he yells the magic word “Shazam!” turns into a wisecracking Superman-style superhero with amazing powers to match. 

The original’s refreshingly cheeky humor made it a hit with audiences and critics alike and a sequel was announced that same year. But the pandemic had the inevitable effect on its release date so, four years later, Shazam! Fury Of The Gods is eventually upon us — and this time Batson’s bought his gang with him. 

They’re essentially his family, all foster kids and all with superpowers and superhero identities they summon up by yelling the same word. Keeping their alter egos a secret from their foster parents is tricky, to say the least... and when angry ancient gods, The Daughters Of Atlas, appear on Earth, it becomes almost impossible. These formidable foes from the past are in search of powerful magic stolen from them centuries ago, and the gang finds themselves thrust into a battle to save their superpowers, their lives, and the fate of the entire world. No pressure, then.  

With David S. Sandberg back as director and Henry Gayden on screenwriting duties again, expectations have been high for a repeat of the irreverence and pace that made the first one so enjoyable. And they’ve tried. Hard. But the result is markedly different. Just weeks ago, we witnessed the sad sight of another cheeky superhero—Ant-Man, in Quantumania — suffering a sense of humor failure. Shazam and co. come close to going the same way, but this time the script is full of quips and one-liners, with the occasional more elaborate joke. The trouble is, the vast majority of them hit the ground with a resounding thud. The result is the same: a few awkward giggles from the audience and that’s all. Somewhere along the line, the magic touch that gave the original its sparkle has dissolved into near-nothing.

Jovan Armand, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel, Faithe Herman, Grace Caroline Hurrey and Eugene Choi in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

The Shazam! family. (Image credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Thankfully, Zachary Levi is still his charming, energetic self, having a ball in the title role. The family dynamic between the kids themselves and their blissfully ignorant foster parents gives the film a big, warm heart that partly makes up for some of the shortcomings, and there’s a certain silliness about proceedings that younger members of the audience will probably love. But all of that doesn’t quite plug the gap. 

The film ends up relying far too much on spectacle and, given the emphasis on action, you’d expect top-notch special effects. Yet they follow the patchy style of the film. Some are very clumsy, others are fortunately in a higher and better league. And they’re used to particularly good effect for one character, who does manage to bring some genuine wit to proceedings, even if the set-up is conspicuously straight out of another Warner Brothers franchise, this time about a boy wizard. 

That’s not the only aspect that feels derivative. When some of the villains get their just desserts, you’d swear Thanos had just snapped his fingers. One of the opening sequences on a collapsing bridge is impressive — all stretching cables and cracking tarmac — but it’s hardly original and there’s little attempt to do anything new or different with it. And we won’t mention the shamelessly obvious product placement.

The result is a film that feels overlong, comes close to outstaying its welcome, and tries to conceal its loss of momentum with hoards of mythological monsters, some of which are, yet again, more effective than others. And while Shazam himself still has his charm, he’s definitely lost some of his spark and replaced it with a fascination for team meetings with his superheroes. For all its scale and action, this is a sequel very much in the shadow of its predecessor. 

There are already rumors of a third installment. If it gets the green light, it’ll need to haul itself back up to the level of the first film. As things stand, it’s disappointing to say that Shazam has lost his pizazz!

Shazam! Fury Of The Gods hits theaters on March 17.

Freda Cooper

Freda can't remember a time when she didn't love films, so it's no surprise that her natural habitat is a darkened room in front of a big screen. She started writing about all things movies about eight years ago and, as well as being a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic, is a regular voice on local radio on her favorite subject. 

While she finds time to watch TV as well — her tastes range from Bake Off to Ozark — films always come first. Favourite film? The Third Man. Top ten? That's a big and complicated question .....!