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Shazam! Fury of the Gods Review: Overpowered, underwritten but fun in between

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Zachary Levi, front, stars in scene from the movie “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” Photo: OSV News photo/Warner Bros.
Zachary Levi, front, stars in scene from the movie “Shazam! Fury of the Gods.” Photo: OSV News photo/Warner Bros.

Over the last decade of DC and Marvel films, both franchises have struggled to find a solution to the overpowered protagonist problem.

When characters like Superman and Captain Marvel are essentially indestructible and have reached their full potential, how can writers keep the story engaging without all the devices that move the hero’s journey along, like real risks, sacrifices and character growth?

As difficult it is writing one invincible character, imagine balancing six superhumans. Warner Bros, in its latest film to hit cinemas, has tried to do just that.

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You don’t have to have the gifts of the gods to foresee the chaos that is DC’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the overpowered and overcrowded sequel which is currently showing across the country.

“The revelation that their actions in the first film have exposed their world to a new evil doesn’t do much to help their confidence either.”

After the events of the first film, Billy Batson (played by Zachery Levi and Asher Angel) and his five superpowered siblings find themselves splitting their time between school and safeguarding their city.

Dubbed the “Philadelphia Fiascos,” this flying family of misfits are seen as more of a hindrance than a help by the media and the wider community.

The revelation that their actions in the first film have exposed their world to a new evil doesn’t do much to help their confidence either.

Bent on retrieving their lost powers from Billy and his family, the Daughters of Atlas (played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler) wreak havoc on Philadelphia and its citizens.

It’s up to the Shazam kids to face their fears and save the world from total destruction.

Like many superhero films, Fury of the Gods is a mess of a movie that lacks restraint, consistency and character development.

With a randomly-changing plotline and overloaded production, the sequel seems to have been scripted by a child who watched one too many Marvel movies.

Warner Bros have yet to learn from failed instalments in the DC film franchise and still hold to the motto: excess means success.

There is a clear imbalance, both in the characters’ abilities and overall plot, compounded by poor writing and a lack of structure.

When you have actors of the calibre of Helen Mirren and Djimon Hounsou in key roles, weaknesses in the dialogue and script become glaringly obvious.

“Billy’s best friend Freddie … was a stand out as his character finds the courage to stand up to the antagonists, despite losing his powers and having a disability.”

There were a number of fun moments and genuine attempts to push forward the narrative.

There must be credit given to the writers for highlighting the problems faced by foster families and the insecurities that a child can develop from not growing up in a secure home.

Billy’s best friend Freddie (played by Jack Dilan Grazer) was a stand out as his character finds the courage to stand up to the antagonists, despite losing his powers and having a disability.

As in the first film, actor Zachery Levi does well to capture the childish innocence of Billy Batson as Shazam and carries the film with his portrayal.

Overall, Fury of the Gods suffers from the problems of the superhero genre and enjoys few of its benefits. Considering we have had more than three decades of DC superhero flicks—the first Michael Keaton batman movie was released in 1989—perhaps it’s not a surprise the genre feels more super-bloated than superpowered.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is rated M for supernatural themes and violence.

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