Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods ★★½

"I love unicorns!"
"The unicorn does not love you."

I don't exactly want to say "Look how they massacred my boy.", so I'm instead going to say "You've become the very thing you swore to destroy." When I've watched Shazam!, especially rewatching it just a couple days ago, I was into how much it finds entertainment and fun in being recklessly but boldly silly and goofy. I want there to be this childhood whimsy that goes with a film featuring this character, where it's not smug or snarky with its humor and action. So, it's then a pretty major disappointment for Fury of the Gods to just for the most part be the thing that I was so happy with the original film not being. I liked Zachary Levi quite a lot in the first film. He's not good here. I don't really know what happened, as it feels like it could be that he has worse material, tried to improvise more, or a mix of both. I think either way he has to carry this too much when there was previously a nice balance between him and Asher Angel as Billy, and here Angel's in it for like four scenes if that. With Levi and the film as a whole, situational goofball comedy and quality drama gets traded in for awkward banter and "good enough" action, much to the detriment again of what I think makes Shazam! work. Even Rachel Zegler, while it's nice to see her in something again, feels like she got the shaft. She sure looks lovely, but her character gets squat to do or say, and little to even slightly emote with in any sincere way. (Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren as the film's antagonists feel equally wasted.) There are bits and performances that keep me from being completely negative towards this film, such as still enjoying Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy, appreciating that Djimon Hounsou's Wizard actually gets a good amount to do here, there were a handful of comedy beats that got some chuckling out of me, and the various creatures from mythology sprinkled throughout the final act in particular were fun to look at. In the moments where I feel like you have more of a filmmaker in Sandberg being hands-on, you get the glimmers of a fun superhero feature. When there's the moments of being too loose while at the same time restrained with "cinematic universe" and studio notes control, then this just can't lift itself up from the ground. A real bummer, man! I don't think this is awful like I've seen others find it, but this shouldn't be so bland and forgettable for me while I'm still so fresh out of it. That's the way the superhero cookie crumbles.


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