Shazam! Fury of the Gods (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

The film continues the story of teenage Billy Batson who, upon reciting the magic word "SHAZAM!" is transformed into his adult Super Hero alter ego, Shazam.

May 18, 2023 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

While I have only seen it once during its run in theaters, I did enjoy Shazam. While not the greatest superhero film, or even the most interesting superhero himself, the film was a fun time at the movies. It didn’t take itself too seriously but had its heard in the right place and a worth adversary in Mark Strong as the villain. This sequel has a common problem that plagues many sequels and that’s that it wants to go bigger. This becomes a problem during its overly long and repetitive climax. I will get more into that later, but it does get some things right, even though our title character takes more of a backseat this time around. We’re given all too much here, but not enough heart and focus like the first film.

We catch up with Shazam (Zachary Levi) some years after the events of first film. As he closes in on 18, Shazam knows he will be aged out of the foster home, and he’s not ready for the change. We get the returning characters here such as Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer and Adam Brody), Eugene (Ross Butler and Ian Chen), Darla (Faith Herman and Meagan Good) as well as some others. We see an early action sequence in the form of a bridge collapse (how many times have we seen this scenario played out?) and it’s clear to Billy/Shazam that the team wants to venture off on their own and fly solo while he hopes to keep the team together. Some of these early moments are effective in that they rightfully progress our characters as a sequel should. It shows characters, older and faced with the inevitable changes of simply growing up. I liked that. It’s a lot of what follows that hurts the film. Hespera (Helen Mirren) shows up along with Kalypso (Lucy Lui). They want power restored to control humanity. We get a lot of focus this time on Freddy, who develops a crush on a new girl in school named Anthea (Rachel Zegler). They have some fun scenes together and nice chemistry, but the lack of focus given to Shazam in an odd choice here. Things eventually build to an all too hectic climax between the Gods and our heroes as they battle to save earth from their control. It just gets old before long. Stakes don’t feel high, humor feels forced and unnecessary and the film drags far longer than it should. One thing I appreciated about the recent Ant-Man film is that it didn’t overstay its welcome, keeping things under two hours. The destruction here just feels weightless before long. I hope the third film brings back the human element and keeps things more lean.

In what seems as if DC has taken a page from the Marvel playbook, the film throws endless jokes at the audience at what seems like every opportunity it gets. Some land. Some don’t. I wish that could be scaled back. The issues don’t stop there as the last half of the film feels like a never-ending climax. I was reminded a bit of Man of Steel (though there are countless examples) of characters being thrown left and right, buildings shattering and all kinds of destruction, but with what seems like no real stakes. There’s the feeling of redundancy after a while when there aren’t major consequences at play. Viewers should know there are two scenes post credits, so do wait all the way till the end should you choose to see this.

Video: How’s it look?

I believe we’ve hit a point of diminishing returns when it comes to how good some of these “new to the format” films look. It’s really hard for me to recall when I was let down by the way a new movie looked on disc. When it comes to superhero movies, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, there are those that are special-effects laden and those can go either way. Shazam! isn’t a film that relies too heavily on those effects (though they are prevalent) and, as such, has a more naturalistic feel to it. The 2.39:1 HEVC 4K image is nothing short of spectacular showcasing the very best in detail, color range and a smooth sheer that looks stunning. Looking at the texture in Shazam’s suit, the detail of the city of Philadelphia (ok, Toronto) and so on. It’s breathtaking. I’m left pretty speechless and can only say that viewers will be most pleased with the visual effort here.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Much like its predecessor, Shazam! Fury of the Gods sports a very robust Dolby Atmos mix. That all happens and when it happens with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, good things also happen. Truthfully, no punches are pulled in regard to how this sounds. The atmospheric mix simply gives us “balls to the wall” action in most of the third act. It’s a testament to how much a good soundtrack with some amazing effects can really add to the allure of a film. When my head turns to follow a punch or someone getting thrown through a building, the mix has done its job. And this is one good mix.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Shazam! Let’s Make a Sequel – Essentially just that. Cast and crew sit down and discuss the reason for the sequel, what’s different, what was “corrected” from the first one and so forth.
  • The Rock of Eternity: Decked Out – A costume design featurette that sheds some light on, you guessed it, the outfits.
  • The Shazamily Reunion – Family. It’s all about family. Well, sorta. We get a little of that here.
  • The Zac Effect – Is there such a thing as too much Zachery Levi? You be the judge.
  • The Sisterhood of the Daughters of Atlas – A look at some of the ensemble cast.
  • Pay By Play: Scene Breakdown – Four key scenes are analyzed and broken down into their elements.
    • Ben Franklin bridge collapse
    • Rooftop battle of the gods
    • Unicorn ride in Philadelphia
    • Epic showdown at the baseball stadium
  • The Mythology of Shazam! – If you wanted or needed a crash course in Shazam! – here you go.
  • Audio Commentary – Director David F. Sandberg has a lot to say in this track and I’ll admit that I didn’t finish it, but for those that are willing (and interested), it’s a decent listen.
  • Deleted Scenes, Alternate & Extended Scenes

The Bottom Line

Plagued with too many characters and endless action sequences, Shazam! Fury of the Gods feels all too hollow. It isn’t without some redeeming qualities, but the things that made the first film so enjoyable, are sadly missing here. It’s stretched thin and the CGI and effects overpower the story. It needed to lose some of the humor as well as it often feels like it’s trying too hard.

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