Skip This Movie unless a Skittles commercial is something you really want to sit two hours through.

It’s universally known that the films inside the DCU went darker and had a more serious tone that never really seemed to capture the overall entertainment value or fun that the MCU perfectly delivered. Everything from Man of Steel to Justice League was pretty lackluster in its storytelling and charm. That is until James Gunn came in and brought life, energy, and wit into the DCU realm with Suicide Squad. Within that mix of films, there was one DCU movie that broke the formulaic mold with a more kid-friendly outing that had wonderful comedy and great action and characters with Shazam! That movie told the audience that the DCU didn’t have to be all doom and gloom all of the time and introduced these new fantastic characters to the world that everybody could relate to. Now with Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the first ten or so minutes lean into all that was great with the first film, being its interactions with the family and its comedy. After that though, the film nosedive into a jumbled, formulaic mess that has one of the worst scripts of recent memory and takes a stale narrative that seems to never end, despite great performances from Levi and Grazer.

It’s easy to see where the film went off the rails. It’s not because of the performances, even if the villains this time around are as dry and lifeless as a fence post. It’s also not because of the action sequences or direction by returning filmmaker David F. Sandberg (Lights Out). It is almost entirely to blame on the writers and their screenplay. Henry Gayden wrote the first Shazam! film and returned for this sequel, but for some reason, the studio brought in a writer named Chris Morgan to “help out”. Morgan is responsible for the screenplays of the last several Fast and Furious films and The Mummy with Tom Cruise. And there lies the big problem. This Shazam! the sequel had a screenplay that didn’t fit its wheelhouse and thus for 100 minutes of the film, the story makes no lick of sense and is a paint-by-numbers plot that gets more insane by the second. Much like a Fast and Furious movie. In fact, there is even a Fast and Furious shout-out by name in the film that is so corny, that it loses all its jokes and charm instantly. And this is the case with pretty much all of the jokes in the film, including a 90-second ad for Skittles inside the film.

A couple of years have passed since the events of the first film where Billy Batson (Shazam!) and his adopted family have fallen into a routine of school life and changed into their superhero alter-egos to save their city. That first sequence that re-introduces everyone as a bridge is about to collapse is spectacular on every level. It gives a glimpse back at how well the family members work well with each other and all of their comedic back and forth drives the warm feeling of the story. Directly after this the Daughters of Atlas finally find that scepter that gave Shazam! his powers and use them to bring back their world. But one of them has ulterior motives. For some reason that is unexplained, one of the sisters wants to destroy Earth as well. Now the city is packed inside an impenetrable magic dome, there is a wooden dragon that breathes fire, and Ray Harryhausen characters come to life, including a minotaur and Cyclops. All of these elements sound great, but the screenplay does not utilize them well at all, and would rather just show them roaring on screen for a few seconds than give them any ounce of a quality story.

The emotional tones of the film fall flat as well. not because of Levi, but because of the screenplay and how the film was executed. The dialogue between Shazam! and his siblings and foster mother try to pull at the heartstrings but it comes across so cheesy that it fails to stick any sort of emotional landing. It’s not all bad though. Levi as Shazam! just owns this role. He oozes charm and wit constantly and works with what he’s given. Jack Dylan Grazer has the most emotional arc and he delivers on every level. In fact, he and Levi are almost the only ones who show up to the film and give it their all with such a weak screenplay. There’s been talk about how the success of this sequel will affect Levi and Co. returning to the James Gunn-run studio future of films. It’s not about the success, it’s about the screenplay and hiring such a terrible writer in Chris Morgan. While his incoherent and feeble writing attempts work well with the absurdity of the Fast and Furious franchise, which are great by the way, they certainly don’t translate over to the Shazam! world. The result is an extremely lazy outing that doesn’t do anything new in the superhero genre. There is nothing new here and the two-hour run time feels double in length. What a letdown. Let’s hope James Gunn allows these characters to come back into his world so it’s done right – finally because it deserves it. But for now, Skip This Movie unless a Skittles commercial is something you really want to sit two hours through. 

Written by: Bryan Kluger

By Bryan Kluger

Former husky model, real-life Comic Book Guy, genre-bending screenwriter, nude filmmaker, hairy podcaster, pro-wrestling idiot-savant, who has a penchant for solving Rubik's Cubes and rolling candy cigarettes on unreleased bootlegs of Frank Zappa records.

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