Taking David F. Sandberg’s comments at face value, the Skittles joke in “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” seems to have arisen from an honest attempt at humor, though even he acknowledges that it could lead to “cross-promotion.” In hindsight, the whole thing might have worked better if it had been an actual TV commercial, because while it may not be intentional product placement, it sure tastes like it.
The Skittles joke is just the first sign of narrative trouble as “Fury of the Gods” heads toward its textbook superhero movie ending problems. Leading up to that moment, the film isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it doesn’t need to. All it needs to do is be better than the last major superhero release, Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (which it is).
There’s no acting on the Jonathan Majors level in “Fury of the Gods,” but from a purely aesthetic visual standpoint, nothing looks as bad as MODOK, either. In a world without Superman (until James Gunn brings him back in “Superman: Legacy”), seeing Shazam (Zachary Levi) and his caped family fly in to rescue civilians on a bridge serves as a reminder of the simple pleasures of that kind of story. The Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) and young Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), meanwhile, have their own chucklesome buddy comedy going, and there are other moments that elicit audible laughs in the theater, like when Hespera (Helen Mirren) is reading aloud the letter the Shazamily has dictated via their magical, Siri-like, automatic writing pen.
In the end, it feels like all those scary unicorns are just far too easily tamed by Skittles in “Fury of the Gods,” leaving the movie to get a little derailed by cross-promotion.
“Shazam: Fury of the Gods” is in theaters now.