Shazam might not be a top tiered superhero movie and not near my personal top even amongst DC’s lineup, but it is still a lot of fun and Zachary Levi embodies the role so well and can’t wait to see what he and director Sandberg have in store.
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 132 min. – $44.95 | July 16, 2019
Date Published: 07/14/2019 | Author: The Movieman
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 3.5/5
Note: This review does contain PLOT SPOILERS.
DC hasn’t had the smoothest ride in the superhero movie adaptation era catapulted by Marvel and although I personally did like Man of Steel and the “Ultimate Cut” of Batman v. Superman, both critics and general audience weren’t as, let’s say, pleased. Although Warner scored a hit with Wonder Woman, faltered with Justice League and its troubled production before rebounding with Aquaman. Now perhaps on better footing, comes Shazam, a very family-oriented movie that is much lighter in tone than anything that came before and while this style isn’t really my thing as I do tend to gravitate toward the darker tone (hence why Batman is my favorite superhero), this was still a fun flick.
The plot revolves around troubled foster child Billy Batson (ASHER ANGEL), moving from foster home to foster home, gets one last chance with a new family, although his primary focus is finding his mother. At this home he’s introduced to Freddy Freeman (JACK DYLAN GRAZER), Mary Bromfield (GRACE FULTON), Eugene Choi (IAN CHEN), Pedro Pena (JUVAN ARMOND) and Darla Dudley (FAITHE HERMAN).
After defending a crippled Freddy from the school bullies, he’s on the subway when all things go chaotic and enters a cave where the Wizard Shazam (DJIMON HOUNSOU) awaits, weakened following the escape of the once imprisoned Seven Deadly Sins, released thanks to Dr. Sivana (MARK STRONG) who himself 30 years earlier was approached by the Wizard to become his successor, but was deemed not pure of heart. He bestows onto Billy his powers and upon saying his name SHAZAM — Wisdom of Solomon, Strength of Hercules, Stamina of Atlas, Power of Zeus, Courage of Achilles and the Speed of Mercury — will transform into Billy’s full potential, into a grown man (ZACHARY LEVI) sporting a superhero costume with a lit bolt on his chest.
With the help of Freddy, expert on superheroes collecting various memorabilia like Batman’s batarang or a bullet that was shot at Superman, together they try to test his powers. But as Billy becomes accustomed to being a hero, and letting it go to his head as would happen to any 14-year-old, Sivana exacts his vengeance against his belittling father (JOHN GLOVER who you might remember as Lex Luthor’s father on Smallville or Dr. Woodrue in Batman & Robin) as well as his jerk and pompous brother, utilizing the Seven Deadly Sins which reside within his glowing eye.
Now Sivana only needs to get the Wizard’s powers to… well, the movie doesn’t really explain his end goal. Ultimate power, I guess? Whatever the case, there is the epic battle between Shazam and Sivana and an extra help for the original Captain Marvel in the form of what was called the Marvel Family.
Shazam is a fun enough ride and while it hardly breaks new ground in the superhero subgenre in terms of story, it is a unique wrinkle having a hero with the mindset of a teenager, it is what I consider breezy fun, something that only recently DC (or World of DC) has embraced turning away from the darker elements (even something like Aquaman had a dark streak to it). Shazam shows that the studio can do both and so long as they don’t meddle too much, they can have critical (along with the audience) and box office success. Shame they didn’t learn this earlier though I still need to see consistency.
However what especially works is the casting of Zachary Levi as the actor, kind of like Ant-Man’s Paul Rudd, really comes across like a grown child, and it translates to the big screen. He personifies that childlike mentality really well and I hope to see more with a hopeful sequel. Mark Strong also serves nicely as a thinly motivated villain and nice to see him in another superhero movie, shame that Green Lantern was so bad, as his Sinestro was one of the very few highlights. The child actors meanwhile were decent, some better than others, obviously with Jack Dylan Grazer ahead of the rest and showed quite a bit of charm.
Shazam was directed by David F. Sandberg and if you ever follow him on Twitter or watched featurettes on his previous movies (the one included with Annabelle: Creation is excellent), you know that he’s a character onto himself. And even though his background is in horror, but as with his counterparts like James Wan (Aquaman) or Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange), seems to be a smooth transition to something more action oriented, not to mention with a lighter comedic tone. That said, like the Trench sequence in Aquaman, Sandberg’s more horror sensibilities do show up with the Seven Deadly Sins scenes where heads are bitten off).
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This release comes with a glossy slip cover and inside is the redemption code for the Digital HD copy.
Superhero Hooky (4:05) is a motion comic with our titular character being grilled by the principal about him and the Shazam family going out during school hours and fighting crime.
The Magical World of Shazam (27:09) – This is an overarching behind-the-scenes featurette including interviews with David F. Sandberg, Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, and others on how they came to work on the project. Sandberg in particular was a lot of fun to listen on his filmmaking approach. One interesting tid-bit: Levi originally auditioned to play Adult Freddy before Sandberg saw the footage and thought he’d be right for Shazam. Also looks at the costume design, stunt work, and more.
Super Fun Zac (3:19) shows how much fun Zachary Levi had while making the movie.
Deleted Scenes (37:27) – There are 16 scenes that were either cut or trimmed down. Includes intros by Sandberg. Some okay scenes but they were removed for good reason…
Gag Reel (3:16) – Filled with plenty of goofiness with the cast.
Who is Shazam? (5:42) – A little profile on the character, as well as Sivana, and what iterations the movie drew from.
Carnival Scene Study (10:23) has the filmmakers breaking down how the climatic carnival scene was filmed, combining the practical and visual effects.
Shazamily Values (6:06) looks at the members of the Marv… Shazam Family and the respective actors.
4K UHD VIDEO – 4.75/5, BD VIDEO – 4.5/5
|Shazam flies onto 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray where it’s presented with a measured 2.38 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2160p and 1080p high-definition transfers respectively. The picture as one would expect does look excellent. Detail on both formats look sharp, with 4K a bit better with colors aided by the HDR on the brighter side, noticeable on the reds of Shazam’s costume or the blue in Sivana’s eye. Blacks also look great still showing some detail without appearing crushed. There were no instances of banding or any other major flaws like aliasing or artifacting on either format.|
AUDIO – 4.75/5
|Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs come with Dolby Atmos tracks and it does sound fantastic. While I don’t consider this overwhelmingly incredible or exactly reference quality work, it still was impressive. The action sequences make usage of every available channel; depth is present throughout, though the bass does get a boost whenever the Deadly Sins speak.|
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Shazam might not be a top tiered superhero movie and not near my personal top even amongst DC’s lineup, but it is still a lot of fun and Zachary Levi embodies the role so well and can’t wait to see what he and director Sandberg have in store if there is a sequel. The 4K UHD combo pack offers up excellent video and audio transfers while the features were fairly well produced.
The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.