Wednesday, July 17, 2019

SHAZAM! (2019) (Blu-ray Review)

SHAZAM! (2019) 

Label: Warner Brother Home Entertainment

Region Code: A
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 132 Minutes
Audio: Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1)
Director: David E. Sandberg
Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody,Djimon Hounsou

More so than any other superhero film I think DC's Shazam! really captures the magic of becoming a superhero, and how cool that would be! This is seen through the eyes of troubled kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel), whose mischievous behavior has him bouncing around from one foster care home to the next. One day he finds himself summoned by an ancient wizard named Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), who bestows the pure-of-heart kid with the ability to channel ancient magical powers simply by uttering the wizard's name. When he says "Shazam!" he is magically transformed into a adult musclebound superhero with a tight-fitting red spandex outfit with a cape and a glowing lighting bolt symbol emblazoned across his chest. 

As origin stories go this one is a good bit of fun, managing to got get too bogged down in the minutia of things, we've seen so many of these origin stories from both DC and Marvel, so I appreciated the expediency of it here. The film actually starts off with an origin story for the baddie of the film, that of evil-genius Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), whom we first encounter as a misfit kid, who was also summoned by the wizard,  but he fails the wizard's test he is cast away this near miss with superpowers creates an obsession within the boy, one that will take decades to realize, until he finally harnesses the power of the Seven Deadly Sins, a demonic power that also gives him incredible strength and superpowers that are akin to Shazam's.

The film is a wonderfully lighthearted and lightweight superhero film, balancing kiddie-friendly fun and humor with some surprisingly dark moments. The designs of each of the Seven Deadly Sins is grotesque, so much so that I remember hearing several young kids crying when I saw it in the cinema, which is fine by me, I think kids need some nightmare fuel in their films at a certain point, weaning them off the teat of kiddie fare with fantastical kinder-trauma.

Zachary Levi (TV's Chuck) plays the adult super-powered Shazam against the younger version of Billy Batson, as played by Asher Angel, both do good work here, with the younger actor capably playing a mischief making teen whose heart has been slightly hardened after being abandoned by his mother, wary of building friendships for fear of being hurt, which is a running theme throughout the film. Zachary Levis is clearly having a blast as a kid in a an adult-sized superheros body, his enthusiasm is infectious and went a long way toward enamoring this movie to me.   

The superhero action scenes are well done, it's not bogged down with sullen characters, instead we have a kid gleefully exploring his newfound magical powers, which he sets aboyt discovering with assistance from his superhero-obsessed foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer). The fights are solid with the use of super-speed, lightning punches, and a few punches right to the baddies nuts, all in the name of saving people from the evil of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and his Seven Deadly Sins. Shazam delivers the superhero thrills throughout, and it does it in a way that is joyful and fun, not something we see a lot from the DC films, making this magical superhero film something of a breath of fresh air. 

Audio/Video: Shazam! arrives on Blu-ray from Warner Brothers framed in 2.39:1 widescreen in 1080p HD. The image is stellar, it's a vibrant film splashed with color throughout, saturation is fantastic and the details are dazzling in their crispness, a top-notch HD presentation. 

Likewise the Dolby Atmos audio is a zinger, we get plenty of subtle ambiance during the quieter scenes and a good array sonic wallop during the action sequences, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Extras are plentiful for this release, we get a 4-min motion comic, 27-min making of doc, 7-min of alternate and deleted scenes, a 3-min gag reel, a 10-min scene dissection of the finale, 3-min look at the fun, on-set antics Zachary Levi, a 6-min look back at the character of Shazam in comics and popular culture, plus a 6-min look at the young actors in the film. All solid stuff, not too deep, but the making-of doc is pretty cool with loads of behind-the-scenes footage, plus the alternate and deleted scenes offer lots of cool little story nuggets, and the alternate scenes are interesting, including a different origin story for the baddie. 

The 2-disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital release from Warner Bros. arrives in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with a one-sided sleeve of artwork, plus it included a cool lenticular slipcover with alternate artwork featuring both younger Billy Batson and the adult Shazam!

Special Features:

- Shazam Exclusive Motion Comic (4 min) 
- The Magical World of Shazam (27 min) 
- Super Fun Zac (3 min) 
- Carnival Scene Study (10 min) 
- Shazamily Values (6 min) 
- Who is Shazam? (5 min) 
- Alternate & Deleted Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary (37 min) 
- Gag Reel (3 min) 

Shazam! is a solidly entertaining superhero film, far removed from the serious tones of other DC films, leaning more towards something akin to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, and that's a good thing, not every superhero film has to have the seriousness of the Christopher Nolan Batman films. The Blu-ray, provided to us for review by Warner Bros., looks gorgeous and sounds great, plus it has some cool extras.