Skip to content Skip to footer

Shazam! Fury of the Gods Review

With a movie universe in a state of change the final three (possibly four depending on what happens with Blue Beetle) films the DCEU come with the feeling “what’s the point”? If the universe is about to be rebooted with new cast members, is there much point investing in the adventures of these characters? Whatever happens, and even with the ever looming questions of who will remain when Gunn implements his chapter one of the DCU, we still have the enjoyment of some of the DCEU’s stronger moments here.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods starts off meaning business, a cold open showing two daughters of Atlas, Hespera (Dame Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) taking a magical staff from a museum and turning the patrons into a violent mob before they turn to stone is a reminder that director David F. Sandberg cut his teeth with the inventive and scary Lights Out and the better-than-it-had-a-right-to-be Annabelle: Creation. This opening introduces our main villains with confidence, before bringing us up to speed with Billy Batson.

This time around instead of the found-family theme that made the first film so emotionally rich we have one about a guy trying to keep his family together no matter the cost. A fun cameo from P.J. Byrne as Dr Dario Bava – nice horror reference there David – quickly catches up the audience members who maybe didn’t catch the 2019 romp.

Despite moving economically with putting all the issues up-front – The threat of Atlas’ daughters, the city of Philadelphia being less than impressed with the superheroes, Billy being months away from ageing out of the care system and possibly losing his home and his strained relationship wit Freddy (Jack Dylan Glazer) there appears to be a lack of time to fully develop any of these ideas. This is what becomes frustrating about the film. While the first focussed on Billy’s quest to find a family in the wake of an abandonment from his mother and his bromance with foster-brother Freddy, this film feels like it has too many subplots to juggle.

It’s this franticness that means questions like why Grace Caroline Carrey’s Mary doesn’t change into a different person when she becomes a superhero (despite the previous film showing us her turning into Michelle Borth) or why the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) is still alive don’t get answered. Sandberg clearly has fun with the characters, and the easy chemistry Zachary Levi appears to have with everyone is infectious but this frantic “get it done” nature means that Asher Angel is criminally underused as the regular Billy. There’s nothing here as funny or inventive as the first film’s super-power montage or the liquor store robbery.

There are flashes of brilliance, a bridge collapse rescue set to Bonnie Tyler is an early highlight and the coming-of-age romance between Glazer and Rachel Zegler’s Anne actually grounds the film in an emotional weight it struggles to capture for the most part. The CGI is confident, especially in the depiction of a dragon made entirely of wood.

One scene, clearly addressing people’s biggest complaint with the first film, appears to make the same mistake twice before a late film reveal that shows Sandberg listened to his critics. The latter half of the film, a big CGI showdown between the family and CGI monsters of Greek myth is sort of dull, this also means that Liu is given little to do but sit on the dragon and look annoyed. It’s also unclear what the true motives of the sisters are. A power struggle between Mirren and Liu is hinted at but never fully explored to its full potential.


Fury of the Gods’ biggest sin is that it doesn’t mine the emotional depths of the characters until the finale when moments of genuine, proper emotion come to the fore. It’s here that the film finds it’s feet but it’s all too late considering a lot of the film has been taken up with people snatching a glowing stick from one another. Less of the respected thespians shouting hokum at one another and more of Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews as the family’s loving, supportive adoptive parents would have made this less of a super-slog and more of a god-like triumph.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is set to open in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday 17 March 2023.