Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Shazam! Fury of the Gods


The superhero life seems to have finally sunk in, leading to some doubts. While Billy Batson (Asher Angel) enjoys being Shazam (Zachary Levi), he feels like his foster siblings are now getting too busy doing their own thing and resulting in their superhero team effort falling apart. Things start to go farther south with the arrival of the daughters of Atlas: Hespera (Helen Mirren); Kalypso (Lucy Liu); and Anthea (Rachel Zegler), who have come to retrieve their birthright that the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) stole from their father. Dealing with random issues like aging out of the foster care system and now a trio of angry goddesses who want to strip them of their powers, Billy must find a way not just to save his family, but also the world as the trio’s sinister plans spell doom to humanity’s very existence.

Sometimes you are tempted to think how bored Helen Mirren must be to star in projects like this. Remember that she was also in a Fast and Furious movie once? She has an Oscar and a Tony so she doesn’t really need roles like this, but maybe this is just her way of having fun, and it shows. That scene with her reading Shazam’s letter was downright hilarious, and the best thing about it is that she actually commits to the character. With most of the action involving just some mere flicking of hands and fingers, it is her presence onscreen that lends credibility to Hespera as a villain.

The same cannot be said of Lucy Liu, though, who seemed to just be phoning it in half the time, which is a shame because she is not new to the action genre, even though we can argue that Shazam is no Charlie’s Angels where she gets to legit kick some ass. Here, it’s all green screen and fake dragons. Perhaps this is the reason why she looks a bit unenthusiastic? As the film’s big bad, she’s just lacking.

Zegler, on the other hand, feels like she is taking this too seriously, perhaps. Maybe she is considering this as some sort of audition for future roles? We cannot blame her, though, since this is the most logical thing to do for someone whose career is just taking off. This will help boost her visibility even more, hopefully making her a household name in the process. Her powers as Anthea are just so delightful to watch, by the way.

They repeat the same half body trick they did with Superman in the first film, but this time with Wonder Woman in a dream sequence. Since we have already seen this before, our expectations are already set, which in turn makes Gal Gadot’s actual cameo during the closing act more rewarding. They end up calling out the bluff this time around. The odd thing about it is that it just doesn’t add up. You mean to say that Wonder Woman knew about a world-ending plot involving goddesses and decided to sit idly by just to serve as a literal Deus-Ex-Machina later on?

The short answer to that is THIS IS NOT HER MOVIE. Had she intervened, then Shazam and family wouldn’t be given the opportunity to shine. That’s the long and short of it. Anyway, what lessens the impact of this film is the uncertainty the DCEU is dealing with lately. Shazam is one of the few movies that they got right, and now we are not even sure if this will be his last outing. Heck, this might even be Gadot’s swan song as Wonder Woman? When the possibility of future continuation of the story is put at risk, the enjoyment is, preemptively, considerably less.

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