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Shazam! (2019) - Blu-ray Review

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Shazam!

The DCEU, if it is even called that anymore, has been making significant strides with its output in the last couple of years—and amazingly WITHOUT its two heavy hitters. Wonder Woman and Aquaman have both made commercial and critical strides that the last few entries involving Superman and Batman didn’t.

There is still a lot unknown about where this shared universe of Warner’s heroes is headed. But little bit by little bit, we are seeing some fresh approaches to their collective canon in the films they’re releasing. Shazam! is their next offering.

I have only ever been myopically familiar with this character, despite his long, storied history in comics. Basically, I knew he was once called Captain Marvel and somewhere along the lines his catchphrase “Shazam” became his actual name instead of sharing the same title with Marvel’s hero. I knew he was a boy that became a superhero, and that he was part of the Justice League at various stages of his existence. That’s about it.

"This is a left of field entry into the once dark and gloomy DC Universe that works. It doesn’t tax your brain. It is packed with heart and laughs"


What I didn’t know was how sweet and compelling a hero he was, how endearing his back story is and how damn funny the premise of him could be.

Billy Batson is a fifteen year-old precocious foster kid, who has always kept his various foster-care workers and the cops on their toes. When he runs away for the umpteenth time in search of his natural mother again, he is placed with an eclectic bunch of kids and two kind guardians that quickly start to make their way into his heart. But Billy has been closed off all his life. He’s jaded and guarded and tried valiantly to keep everyone at bay. When mystical forces, both light and dark enter his life, the boy’s true heart is revealed and he is bestowed with great powers. The question then becomes what to do with them, and as he struggles with what is truly important, a powerful enemy rises to test his metal and reveal his true self.

That pitch sounds very dramatic, something the DCEU is renowned for, but this film is FUNNY. Really funny. Star Zachery Levy said some time ago that this would be BIG with superheroes, and for once that’s pretty much exactly what you get. The two main kids (Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer) playing Billy and Freddy are a standout. Their interplay is hysterical, with Grazer’s comedic timing a huge feather in the film’s cap. Levy as Shazam is the perfect man-child and conveys the innocence of a young teen effortlessly.

The script really has fun with the meta aspects of exploring superheroes and is laced with set pieces throughout that are both taking the piss and organically showing what kids or random people might do or say if these type of heroes ever existed.

Mark Strong has his second turn at a DC antagonist (after the Green Lantern bomb); this time playing Thaddeus Sivana, a bitter man who was rebuffed by the ancient Shazam and deemed unworthy when he was a boy. There is a scene where he goes for the generic bad guy monologue too far away from Shazam to be heard that encapsulates the tone of this film. Strong plays it straight and is wonderful as the film’s sour puss.

All the support cast is wonderful and add value and smiles in every scene.

The effects are as outlandish as the film’s plot and hero’s costume, but there are no sloppy CGI moments (*Superman’s moustache *cough) and they serve the story well.Shazam!

Benjamin Wallfisch’s score is a perfect marriage of heroics and off-kilter ham. Not an easy thing to pull off. There are also moments of levity and heart that are aided considerably by his work.

As stated earlier, there are dozens of theories and opinions about just what DC are doing now. After the failure of Justice League, and the upcoming slate of seemingly stand alone projects, we could have been forgiven for thinking that they’d given up on that idea. But there are clever and constant nods to the other heroes in this film that may be suggesting otherwise. They also have chosen to give little credit scenes that speak to possibilities, so make sure you stay on until the end of the credits.

This is a left of field entry into the once dark and gloomy DC Universe that works. It doesn’t tax your brain. It is packed with heart and laughs and is a great night out at the movies--definitely unique and worth watching.

4/5 stars

Shazam!

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- July 15, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; two-disc set; digital copy; lenticular slipcover
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Warner's Shazam! Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD experience begins with the nifty packaging that comes as a 2-disc set with digital code housed in an eco-case enclosure inside a lenticular slipcover. Inside we get a digital code, a DVD disc, and a 50GB BD disc that includes the film, deleted and alternate scenes (with optional director's intro), a gag reel, an exclusive motion comic, and tons of special features and bonus material. Over 90 minutes of extra material in all. Superhero fans and Shazam! fans alike will want to add this release to their collection.

Video

The 1080p 2.40:1 video presentation is a solid one with a color palette that runs the gamut throughout the spectrum yet always remain true. Skin colors are accurate while images are sharp and crisp, rarely ever waiver, and bring the Shazam! experience to life with a stunning vibrance. Very few flaws in this superb transfer. This is an absolutely gorgeous transfer.

Audio
Now this is where the release really shines. The Dolby Atmos TrueHD soundtrack comes to life with a booming, zooming sonic force that zips about the room with the greatest of ease. Exactly the kind of workout we expect on our home theater system from a superhero movie. The use of the up-firing Atmos channel was especially noticeable during the action and flight scenes as expected.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Warner goes all in with a plethora of bonus materials that, when all-totaled, give viewers wonderful insight into the film, its roots, and fascinating behind-the-scenes looks at our favorite scenes.

  • Superhero Hooky (04:05) - A multi-panel exclusive comic book short voiced by the film's actors. It is an interesting idea and is really an alternate scene, but the simulated animation is more distracting than it is helpful.
  • The Magical World of Shazam! (27:09) - Cast and crew discuss the special effects used in the film, the casting of Zachary Levi, and shooting in the Toronto winter, and more. We get tons of behind-the-scenes looks at filmmaking that would be particularly interesting to aspiring filmmakers. Definitely the best of the bunch!
  • Super Fun Zach (03:19) - Cast and crew talk about what it was like to work with Zachary Levi on the film.
  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes (with Director's Introduction) - Wizard Prologue ; Alternate Beginning; Billy on the Subway; Alternate Intro to Group House; Alternate Dr. Crosby and Dr Sivana Interviews; Billy Sneaks Out; New School With Darla; Sivana Christmas Party; Shazam and Darla Tea Party; Alternate Lightning With My Hands; Additional Montage Beats; Freddy Hung From Locker; Alternate Carnival Fight; Freddy Flies By Airplane; Family On Thrones; Alternate Ending Family Beats
  • Gag Reel (03:13)
  • Carnival Scene Study (10:23) - A ten-minute look at the film's finale that takes place in the local carnival.
  • Shazamily Values (06:06) - An entertaining look at the stars who played the orphans in the film.

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

Shazam!

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material.
Runtime:
132 mins
Director
: David F. Sandberg
Writer:
Henry Gayden
Cast:
Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong
Genre
: Action | Adventure
Tagline:
Every Hero Has A Secret.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Say my name so that my powers may flow through you."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site: https://www.shazammovie.com/
Release Date:
April 5, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).

Shazam!

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