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The first reviews for Shazam! Fury of the Gods are in, and uh, they’re not great. The sequel brings back Zachary Levi as the titular superhero, whose first film was a surprise hit during the overly dark of the Snyderverse. However, based on the reviews, the magic of the original Shazam! is missing from the sequel, which also labors under the knowledge that James Gunn is already working on a reboot of the DC Universe.
Not even Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu can save Fury of the Gods, but a few critics did their best to give the sequel a fair shake despite, well, everything.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
These current DC movies just kind of feel like the game is over and the other team has taken a knee and is running out the clock. And under those circumstances, I kind of feel bad for these movies. In the end, people worked hard on them. To the point that when I went to my screening, before the movie started, it felt like I was wasting my time. What’s the point of this?
Now that you know what my headspace was the day I saw Shazam: Fury of the Gods, having said all that, yeah I kind of found myself enjoying it. At least, my expectations were low enough that the four or five laughs I had while watching felt like, “good enough.”
Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
“Fury of the Gods” is one of those superhero sequels that goes through the paces, presenting us with a story that’s meticulously convoluted and weightless, only to ratchet up the CGI, as if that were the film’s way of testifying to its Major Popcorn Movieness. Plenty of comic-book sequels do that, of course, but the first “Shazam!” was a special case. It had a breezy screw-loose charm that felt not so much superhuman as good old human. It somehow sidestepped the digitally tooled blockbuster cynicism, but “Fury of the Gods” falls right into it. The film isn’t terrible, but it’s busy, formulaic and rather joyless.
Unfortunately, the reviews only get worse from there as critics couldn’t past the overly-CGI spectacle that failed to bring back the heart of the first film.
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast:
DC Studios recently hired James Gunn and Peter Safran to right its movie universe’s wayward course. On the basis of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, that reboot can’t come soon enough. A sequel whose goofiness extends not only to its lame humor but its convoluted and senseless plot, David F. Sandberg’s film is something like the light-side equal to last fall’s Black Adam—fitting, given that the antihero of that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vehicle is a classic Shazam villain. Messy and mirthless, it resounds as the death knell for this interconnected cinematic enterprise’s current iteration.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter:
But as so often is the case with these sorts of films, Shazam! Fury of the Gods becomes tedious with its excessive spectacle relying, in this case, on not-so-spectacular CGI effects that make you long for a little Ray Harryhausen-style stop-motion. By the time an army of unicorns are recruited by young Darla with a fistful of Skittles, you’re ready to throw up your hands. (The Reese’s Pieces product placement in E.T. was endearing; here not so much.)
Katie Walsh, The Los Angeles Times:
There’s an exasperating trend in superhero movies that has reached the end of its shelf life and needs to be chucked. Back in the 2010s, a light touch seemed fresh and funny, with quippy, ironic dialogue popularized by Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” that felt revolutionary, and snarky, motor-mouthed performances from stars like Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool” that were downright radical. But one whiff of the “Shazam!” sequel “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and you’ll find that this overly jokey approach is well past its expiration date.
Tom Jorgensen, IGN:
It was Billy Batson’s soulful search for his biological family – and realization that the family he’d longed for was in front of him all along – which helped it achieve more staying power than a lot of other movies in this genre. The sequel, Fury of the Gods, is regrettably missing some of that heart. This time we see the Shazamily putting their newfound abilities to the test against a trio of deadly deities set on overrunning Earth, and though the Greek myth iconography the villains bring to the table gives all involved a significantly increased Pandora’s toy box to play with, the movie stumbles on some storytelling basics that leave the sequel feeling less powerful than the first.
Ross Bonaime, Collider:
When we first see Shazam (Zachary Levi) in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, he’s explaining his problems to his pediatrician as if he’s a therapist. He doesn’t feel like a hero—there are several other heroes in the DCEU that he admits are better at this job than he is—and his family of foster siblings/superheroes is starting to pull apart as a group. Simply put, Shazam feels like he’s a disappointment, still struggling to get a hang of this hero thing, and not quite sure where he fits in amongst everything. The problem with Shazam! Fury of the Gods is that Shazam is right: he is a disappointment—much like this movie—and Shazam still doesn’t warrant his inclusion into this larger universe.
Brian Lowry, CNN:
Plenty of pyrotechnics ensue, including an assortment of fantastic creatures and a not-bad-looking dragon that sets up an appropriate “Game of Thrones” joke. Yet without giving anything away, the two closing-credit sequences almost perfectly sum up how the movie falls flat, with each feeling too cute for its own good in slightly different ways.
But not everyone hated the film. A few reviews praised Fury of the Gods as a decent sequel with one critic even going so far to say that it secured the character’s place in Gunn’s new DC Universe.
Pete Hammond, Deadline:
In 2019’s origin story … a group of teens in a foster home, often bullied in school and going through life alone, bonded as a family and as their older superhero alter egos. That movie, from Swedish director David F. Sandberg, was a nice hit for the DC brand at Warners and even won over critics. So naturally we could expect a sequel, even as this comic book brand is undergoing major changes. Employing the same mix of humor and heart, but really amping up the super-heroics as it were, this second edition bodes well for its future in the uncertain DC Universe, at least in terms of delivering on what finicky fans expect.
Sophie Butcher, Empire:
Despite the information overload and occasionally more-miss-than-hit comedy, there are enough laughs, cool comic-book moments and heartfelt performances to make Fury Of The Gods a fun, frivolous watch. The CGI is consistent and the visuals, particularly in the Thor: Ragnarok-esque final act, are often impressive – but most importantly, Shazam! retains an ensemble that you can’t help but root for. To paraphrase Vin Diesel in the Fast And Furious movies – which Levi’s caped crusader namechecks at one point – Shazam! isn’t about friends, otherworldly beings, or even being a superhero, really… It’s about family.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods opens in theaters on March 17.