|Original title:||Shazam! Fury of the Gods|
|Director:||David F. Sandberg|
|Running time:||131 minutes|
|Release date:||17 march 2023|
After having marked our memories as fans of the DC comics universe for many years, the first part directed by David F. Sandberg on a script by Henry Gayden had been an excellent surprise both for its relaxed tone, its successful special effects, the presence of a cast perfectly in tune with the subject (special mention to Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer) and above all a real desire to find the DNA of Richard Donner's Superman film (1978). Director David F. Sandberg, who had made a name for himself with two horror films (Lights out (2016) and Annabelle: Creation (2017) had demonstrated a real sense of timing and economy of means to maximize the strong scenes of these films to the fullest. His first Shazam! had been able to make the difference against the other films of the DC cinematographic universe which seemed to rely solely on the overkill of special effects not often convincing except for an excellent Wonder Woman which also seemed to follow the footsteps of Richard Donner's film.
While the Marvel cinematographic universe capitalized on worldwide stars, colossal budgets but above all found the very essence of Marvel comics, the DC Comics adaptations cruelly struggled to win the enthusiasm of our colleagues in the American and French press. We will forget Joss Whedon's Justice League, David Ayer's Suicide Squad (2016) and Cathy Yan's Birds of Prey (2020) as well as the disappointing Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) (the idea was good but the treatment was a definite artistic failure). We were impatiently waiting for Shazam, Fury of the Gods which seemed to be an end to the universe set up in a certain way by Zack Snyder and we will forget at the same time Black Adam which was an interesting attempt to rebuild a DC cinematographic universe by imposing the presence of Dwayne Johnson at the center of it.
While The Flash that we will discover at the end of April during the Cinemacon announces a real reboot of the DC Universe and that we heard about the construction of a new DC Universe almost wiping the slate clean of the previous movies by James Gunn and Peter Safran (excellent news in itself), we come out of Shazam, Rage of the Gods is a mixed bag, as the film is inferior to the first part, both from the point of view of a scenario lacking striking scenes and rhythm, and surprisingly from the point of view of an editing that poses some visible problems, even though it was done by the same editor as the first film, Michel Aller.
This second part of the film takes place almost two years after Thaddeus Sivana and a new danger appears on the horizon with the presence of the three daughters of the Titan Atlas (Hespera, Kalypso and Anthea) who seem to want to impose their power on earth. While Anthea proves to be peaceful and non-violent, her two sisters do not hesitate to use force and magic, especially to recover the broken staff of the Sorcerer in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece, played again on screen by actor Djimon Hounsou. Billy Watson (Shazam) and his adopted siblings who have acquired magical powers do not seem to have fully mastered them yet and especially do not manage to put their strength together to face significant dangers.
However, they will have no choice but to face Hespera and Kalypso together as long as they have not stolen their powers. While these daughters of Atlas have succeeded in bringing many creatures of Greek mythology to the city of Philadelphia and benefit from the presence of a gigantic dragon, Shazam will have to fight perhaps his greatest battle and above all go to his last breath to make the good win. We won't say more, but Shazam, Rage of the Gods could have been even better than the first part if it had benefited from a more sustained rhythm, more striking scenes and especially if it had been able to find the humor of the first part.
Despite the fact that the director David F. Sandberg remains irreproachable on his direction and succeeds in showing once again that he is as comfortable in action scenes as in more dramatic moments and that Zachary Levi is still excellent in his role and the contribution of the presence of the actress Rachel Zegler, who radiates with her presence on the screen, we are missing a little grain of madness that could have made this film a major success of the DC cinematographic universe. In the same way the scene with Wonder Woman could have been even more successful without the shaggy music that accompanies her appearance on the screen especially since Gal Gadot is not only a superb actress but is the perfect interpretation of Wonder Woman and it will be impossible to do better and replace her in the rebuilding DC universe.
Another major concern of the film is to show that Billy Watson has lost some of his innocence and sees himself as a pack leader to his adopted siblings and it comes across as a lack of freshness compared to the original film. While director David F. Sandberg seems to follow in the footsteps of Richard Donner's Superman and still finds his inspiration in the films of the 80s, we feel that this exercise of style lacks innovation compared to the first part, despite the fact that he still manages to find a certain emotion around the themes of family, how to make a living and especially the discovery of Frederick Freeman's first love: towards Anthea Another imbalance of the fact is to reduce the importance of Shazam as the only superhero of his film since this time his adopted brothers and sisters also have superheroes. This character should have been kept at the center of the story.
Nevertheless, it remains a superhero movie that is enjoyable to watch even if we would have preferred to have a more rhythmic and imposing movie that would have made us forget the visible imperfections of the previous movies of the cinematographic universe. However, we suspect that we will continue to hear about the character Shazam as the two scenes of the film's credits announce interesting tracks of continuation either in a film dedicated to the Justice Society or the return of a cult character of DC comics whose presence will have been missed all along this film.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Written by Henry Gayden, Chris Morgan
Based on Characters by DC
Produced by Peter Safran
Starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren
Cinematography : Gyula Pados
Edited by Michel Aller
Music by Christophe Beck
Production companies : New Line Cinema, DC Studios, The Safran Company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates : March 14, 2023 (Fox Village Theatre), March 17, 2023 (United States), March 29, 2023 (France)
Running time : 131 minutes
Seen on March 28, 2023 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 3 seat A20