“Shazam! Wrath of the Gods is a silly family comedy about naïve DC superheroes enjoying themselves as Marvel’s box office plummets worldwide.

DC Shazam! Fury of the Gods is the sequel to the 2019 teen superhero movie. Directed by David F. Sandberg. In the new role, the heroes face off against the vengeful girls of Atlanta, played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler. Film critic Anton Dolin explains how, amid the crisis in superhero cinema around the world, DC continues to make simple family films.

The crisis of superhero movie comics is no longer denied. After the triumph of the fourth “Avengers”, not even the all-powerful head of Marvel Kevin Feige can repeat his success. Increasingly modest box office receipts allow bored characters to survive rather than win at the box office. Not only grindy classics like Martina Scorsesebut even the youngest experts agree that the peak of comic book aesthetics is behind us, it needs to be reinvented.

Against this depressing backdrop (only in recent months have Black Adam and the third Ant-Man and the Wasp disappointed viewers), you rarely see a picture that would stay alive without pretension and entertain without tiring. “Shazam! One such relative hit is DC’s Rage of the Gods and former horror director David F. Sandberg, who also directed the first part.

If movie comics aren’t your genre of choice, the second Shazam is unlikely to win you over. If, on the other hand, you miss high-quality attractions, devoid of the messianic ambitions of the Avengers or Avatar, you are here.

The hidden resource of the DC Extended Universe, which has lagged behind conquering Marvel for so long, has been the ability to kick back and make a bit of a silly movie. Stories of well-dressed saviors are initially loaded with schematism and childishness – so, perhaps, stop being shy and turn those qualities into an extra resource? Aquaman followed this logic (and thus its upcoming sequel is one of the most anticipated of the year), and the Shazam franchise is subordinate to it.

Recall that in the center of the plot is Billy Batson (Ashen Angel), a difficult teenager, an adopted child in a large family, to whom a grumpy magician transferred magic power – the ability using the spell ” Shazam!” transform into an adult superhero with a lightning bolt on his chest (comedian Zachary Levi). Billy generously shares this power with his adoptive siblings: Freddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), honor student Mary (Grace Fulton), shy Pedro (Jovan Armand), gambler Eugene (Ian Chen) and kind Darla (Faite Herman).

In the second part of the franchise, they will have to challenge another family – the three daughters of the titan Atlanta, who decided to avenge centuries of imprisonment and bring chaos to the people’s world. It stars Hespera, Calypso and Anthea, respectively Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and new superstar Rachel Zegler (Maria from Spielberg’s West Side Story). Once again, the main weight of the superhero film falls on the performers of the villain roles: not only the magic, but also the acting abilities of the three heralds of the apocalypse clearly exceed the resources of the team of children.

Recounting the vicissitudes of the plot, from the destruction of the Pantheon in Athens (there, to common misfortune, they delivered a magic staff dug from a Philadelphia dump) to the inevitable final apocalypse followed by a happy ending, it is empty. An extremely primitive and predictable plot is built from the bricks of conventional storyboards. Sandberg isn’t trying to improve the genre at all – he prefers to straddle it like the crazed Calypso the dragon and the fearless Darla the unicorn, and control the comic with witty dialogue.

He almost always succeeds. There are also mistakes, but they are easily forgiven. The author does not rise above his hero, whose superpower is not muscle strength or lightning speed at all, but invincible innocence and inexplicable faith in his abilities. Fortunately, the director agrees with him. The world is going to hell (and it’s not just Philadelphia painted on screen, which for some reason was filmed in Atlanta), so why not have some fun at the end?

Ancient mythology is pretty organically woven into the Shazam! universe, replacing an equally superficial fantasy game. from the previous part – No wonder Billy, not very cultured, confuses Solomon of the Old Testament with Saruman of Tolkien. The tree of life takes root in a prosperous American metropolis. The buds swell, from which climb the ancient Greek evil spirits: harpies, cyclops, minotaurs. The end is near.

Nevertheless, Billy, who has not yet invented a superhero name for himself (a passerby calls him -man, a joke for Philadelphians), traditionally does not lose heart, because he is arrogant and optimistic, like a teenager. should be. . He’s backed up by a self-thinking pen named Steve, by far the most charming new character in the franchise. At night, Billy dreams of Wonder Woman, sort of from the same expanded universe, but too grown up and cool for him. Comics are good because anything goes, even the strict rules of fairy tale morphology don’t work. Thus, the radiant Diana will also appear here.

“Shazam! Wrath of the Gods” is an absurd genre that has the super capacity, if not to console, at least to entertain the viewer. He or she has every right to feel like a child during those two hours. Shazam Miracle! (like the charm of the film of the same name) lies precisely in this: by giving the teenage heroes the appearance of adults, it gives the adults in the audience the opportunity to at least briefly fall into childhood.

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