Shazam! Fury of the Gods review: superhero sequel is a laugh out loud spandex spectacle

The Shazam family save the day on a collapsing bridge in Fury of the Gods

Thank the gods! This sequel is a wildly entertaining DC superhero romp that cocks a snoot at laborious universe building,  instead favouring fast paced spectacle and character.

We rejoin Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids learning how to juggle teenage life with a career as adult superheroes, they’re dubbed the Philadelphia fiascos by local media so it’s not going well. But when the Daughters of Atlas, a trio of ancient gods (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zeglerled), arrive on Earth in search of the magic stolen from aeons ago, they really need to up their game.

“We are at war, we will annihilate everything. The Champions of this realm can do nothing to stop us!” Mirren’s villainous delivery is pitch perfect. She doesn’t chew the scenery, she destroys it.

Greek mythology is a recurring theme in the wider DC universe, and delivers an obvious pay-off here.

Helen Mirren’s villainous delivery is pitch perfect. She doesn’t chew the scenery, she destroys it…

The ensemble cast is entirely likeable, in both their guise of Batson’s foster family, and as the adult Shazamily, none of whom have proper superhero names. The sequences of this troupe flying around in unison together are really fun (and make me long for a Legion of Superheroes movie). Freddy Freeman (played by Jack Dylan Grazer, and Adam Brody as his adult alter ego), scores the most screen time. Djimon Hounsou also returns, in a much larger role, as the Wizard. 

There’s plenty to like about Shazam! The Fury of the Gods. While this is a family movie in the broadest of the word, there’s a dark edge here that really adds depth. We saw this in the first Shazam movie, specifically the horrific board room sequence, and there’s a similar darkness here – in many ways it reminds me of the nasty edge that distinguished Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and that’s a good thing.

I’ll attribute this to director David F. Sandberg’s obvious affinity with horror (his icon Annabelle gets to make a fleeting appearance early on).

The action sequences are also top notch. Characters are forever getting blasted into buildings and smashed against walls, and there’s a tangible weight to the collisions. This is helped immeasurably by the sound design; fights sound really ‘crunchy.’

The VFX sequences are equally epic. This doesn’t look like a movie shot entirely on LED virtual sets. The dragon is particularly gorgeous, and when the various mythical monsters run amok (setting up the glorious unicorns gag), their integration is seamless.

Production and costume design is outstanding. The Shazams have turned the Council of Wizards (from the first movie) into their clubhouse, complete with pinball machines and pizza debris. The Room of Doors is a brilliant visual.

Superhero costumes have also had a make-over. Shazam’s cape is longer, his lighting bolt very much cooler, the colour palette is less cartoony.

True fact: why do superheroes wear capes? Because it hides the zip on their costume.

I caught the movie on a huge IMAX with Laser screen and the detail and precision in the image was often breath-taking (so do try and see it on a premium cinema screen!).

Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan’s writing is also really smart. Not only do the characters have a believable emotional journey, but the jokes are well constructed and land with laugh out loud accuracy. This is more a super-powered sitcom than a quip-fest.

There’s plenty of comics-accurate references and Easter eggs, but you don’t need a diploma in geekdom to enjoy the story. There are two end credit sequences, so stick around until the house lights go up.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is directed by David F. Sandberg, and stars Zachary Levi, Helen Mirren and Jack Dylan Grazer. Rated 12A, 130 minutes.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves review: charming fantasy romp casts a spell

Paramount is banking on a new franchise with Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, and may well get lucky. Imaginative and entertaining, this all-ages wannabe epic rolls a 20. An adaptation of the cult board game, the movie stars Chris Pine and Michelle Rodriguez as lovable rogues who find themselves questing after an ancient artefact. Imagine…

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

%d bloggers like this: