Shazam! (4K Blu-ray) (2019)

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Released 17-Jul-2019

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Making Of
Alternate Ending
Short Film
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Featurette
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2019
Running Time 131:33
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David F Sandberg
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Zachary Levi
Djimon Hounsou
Mark Strong
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Benjamin Wallfisch


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos 7.1
German Dolby Atmos 7.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
German for the Hearing Impaired Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
German
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

DC has been lagging behind Marvel over the last 10 years in movies, not because they don't have quality properties to exploit but rather because the films produced have not been as good generally and therefore have not done the same sort of business at the box office. The most successful of these films globally has been Aquaman, the first to really post numbers that could rival Marvel, certainly since the Dark Knight films. Even then it only just scrapes into the Top 20 superhero films at the box office (US figures). The latest film to hit the cinemas from the DC Extended Universe is Shazam!

If there has been one consistent criticism of the recent DC films it is that they are dark and humourless. This has been turned around now with Aquaman first and then this film. It is a shame then that this film was the least successful of any of the recent DC films at the box office despite generally getting good press. It is sitting at Number 13 at the US Box Office in 2019 and Number 12 in Australia, miles behind Avengers: Endgame which tops both. Personally, I think this is one of the best recent DC films, maybe even just a shade better than Aquaman because it does not overdo the run time quite as much. Shazam! is certainly the lightest of the recent DC films probably at least partially driven by its main character really being a 14 year old boy. Besides this it has a more general sense of fun rather than angst, which is refreshing. There was a live action TV series made in the 1970s and an animated one from the 1980s that people of my age group remember fondly. Confusingly, this character was also known as Captain Marvel including in the aforementioned live action TV series, with the main character saying Shazam! to change into Captain Marvel. The new Captain Marvel film starring Brie Larsen is not related to this (and there have been lawsuits between Marvel and DC over the years about this).

The story involves a 14 year old orphan, Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who has been searching for his mother since he was a small boy. She abandoned him at a fairground, leaving him to a life of foster care. His constant searching means that he regularly runs away, ending up in another foster family. At the beginning of the film he winds up in a group foster home, presided over by Victor and Rosa Vasquez (Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans). Despite them being good people his only thought is how to get away and continue the search for his mother. At the home, he meets Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), a crippled boy of the same age, Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman), a younger girl, Pedro Pena (Jovan Armand), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen) and Mary Bromfield (Grace Fulton). Initially, Billy has no interest in getting to know them but over time they become friends. One day whilst being pursued by thugs, he gets magically transported to a mystical temple where a Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) transfers to him the powers of Shazam (an acronym of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury which means that he gets the powers of all of these Gods). He now has the ability to transform into this superhero by saying the word Shazam! The problem is that he has no idea what his powers are or how to use them. So, he transforms into Shazam (Zachary Levi) and after convincing Freddy that he is the same person, gets his help to work out his powers. This leads to some of the funniest sequences in the film.

Meanwhile, the audience has been following a somewhat parallel story of a boy who some 20 or 30 years earlier had a similar experience to Billy, in that he was transported to the same mystical temple; however, he was not given the powers of good like Billy but rather was inhabited by the seven deadly sins after finding his way back to the temple many years later. He has now become Dr Sivana (Mark Strong), an evil genius who is determined to destroy Shazam! and have power over the world. Of course, this sets up an epic battle between the forces of good and evil which drives the rest of the film's action. Billy/Shazam must overcome his childish tendencies to be able to battle against Dr Sivana and save the world!

This is a fun and funny film which is an enjoyable watch for the whole family. It was directed by David F. Sandberg, whose background before this film was mostly horror films like Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out, so it is mildly surprising that he has transitioned so well to light comedic super hero films. The film is not perfect but I certainly enjoyed watching it once at the cinema and again on 4K. My main criticism would be that it runs a little long although does not overstay its welcome as badly as some of the DC films. As always, Mark Strong is an effective baddie and the sheer joy and excitement that exudes from Zachary Levi makes Shazam! very likable even when he is being a bit of a d***. The younger cast members all play their roles well without being annoying. The effects and action sequences are certainly well put together without really adding anything we have not seen before. As I mentioned above the sequences where Freddy is trying to work out what Shazam!'s powers are are probably the highlight of the film and certainly the funniest. The finale feels a little prosaic and could have been better but it is certainly not a big issue.

Overall, this is an enjoyable superhero film that along with Aquaman shows that DC can make better films than they had been showing since the Dark Knight series ended. Definitely worth a shot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video is very good despite being a upscale to 4K. The big difference on the 4K disc is in the colours with the wider colour gamut as opposed to a huge increase in resolution or texture over the Blu-ray disc. This is increased by the Dolby Vision encoding should your display be compatible. Some minor artefacts related to bitrate are also removed due to the higher bitrate of this disc. The colours are great with the uniforms and various magical twinklings really standing out. It is framed in the OAR of 2.40:1 and obviously 2160p but as I mentioned upscaled from a digital intermediate rather than from a native 4K source like the best discs on the format. It looks great and you really cannot complain at all about this transfer, which to my eyes at least looked easily better than the cinema I watched it in. Interestingly, the high resolution revealed a couple of spots where it was obvious that Zachary Levi's head had been pasted over the face of a stuntman.

There are English for the hearing impaired subtitles available which are clear and easy to read. Other subtitles are available in German for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish and German.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The audio is excellent with the centerpiece being two Dolby Atmos tracks which become Dolby True HD 7.1 on non-Atmos systems. The Atmos tracks are in English and German. Additionally there are Audio Descriptive tracks in English (DD5.1) and German (DD2.0) and also tracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 for German and Spanish. The Blu-ray disc adds Italian and Polish to the options.

The Atmos track is excellent filling the sound field of your home theatre with sounds such as the voices of the Seven Sins or any of the major action sequences. There is lots of surround presence including voices plus the subwoofer gets lots of use throughout supporting the action and music. One area that was better than most action based films was that the dialogue was well placed in the mix and the subtitles were not required whereas they so often are in other films. The music also sounds great.

The English Atmos track is also on the Blu-ray version.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

A good collection of extras are available on the accompanying Blu-ray only.

Menu

The menu features music.

Superhero Hooky (4:05)

This is a motion comic i.e. animated but in the style of a comic book starring Shazam!, of course. Good to have included but the storyline is so lame that you would only watch it once.

The Magical World of Shazam (27:09)

An extended making of featurette which covers the director, his transition from horror films, behind the scenes footage, pre-visualisation, the director of photography, auditions of the actors, the stars preparation regime, costumes, shooting challenges, ad libbing, effects and CGI. Pretty comprehensive and well worth a look.

Super Fun Zac (3:19)

Featurette about how they all love Zachary Levi and his zany antics.

Deleted and Alternate Scenes - available with or without Director intros (37:28)

The highlight of the extras for me, there are lots of interesting things here including a completely different start to the film which personally I prefer and a different ending. Also there are many other new scenes and very different alternates. Well worth watching.

Gag Reel (3:16)

Decent but nothing special.

Who is Shazam? (5:42)

A brief history of Shazam in comics and TV shows covering the history of the character and his nemesis. Worthwhile, could have been longer.

Carnival Scene Study (10:23)

Specific making of featurette for the finale including blue screen work and behind the scenes. Doesn't add to much to the bigger making of.

Shazamily Values (6:06)

Promo style featurette about the other Shazam's and the younger actors who play their kid versions.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This film is available in the US in the same format except for some minor differences in foreign language soundtracks. Buy Local.

Summary

A fun and funny superhero film from the DC Universe that is not dark and brooding.

The video quality is very good despite being an upscale to 4K.

The audio quality is excellent.

The extras are of good quality but some fans will bemoan the lack of a commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, September 09, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLEDC8PTA 55. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5012
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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