Director: David F. Sandberg
Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel
Release Date: July 16, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam (Zachary 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 (Mark Strong).
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
‘Shazam!’ tells the magical tale of young, street-smart loner Billy Batson who after moving into a new group foster home following his most recent runaway incident, finds himself randomly granted unimaginable powers from a wizard who believes Batson to be his last hope. After speaking the wizard’s name, Billy transforms into the adult form of Shazam and promptly discovers that his various talents are anything but unimpressive or limited. Unable to resist having some fun with it all, he starts to lose his way, seeking attention and financial gain from his talent instead of using it for the right reasons. But when Dr. Thaddeus Sivana and the accompanying forces of evil that he’s partnered with begin hunting him down in order to claim the power for his own, he must put aside the childish fun and learn to control his abilities if he hopes to stop the deadly Dr. Sivana and keep his newfound family safe.
Directed by David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out) from a screenplay by Henry Gayden (Earth to Echo) and a story by Gayden and Darren Lemke, Sandberg does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘Shazam!’ capturing the heart, humor and stylish action beautifully every step of the way. The film also owes plenty of credit to the capable folks that comprise the cast which includes Zachary Levi (TV’s Chuck), Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Asher Angel (TV’s Andi Mack), Jack Dylan Grazer (It 2017) and Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel) along with many more, nearly all delivering generally solid performances in each of their respective roles, even if Levi tends to steal the majority of scenes he occupies, as does the surprisingly organic chemistry between himself and Grazer which really helps the coming of age aspect within to work so smoothly.
‘Shazam!’ is nothing short of magnificent, and downright magical in its own right. A hilarious, touching and thoroughly entertaining adventure that’s brimming with heart and carefree fun, while at the same time never afraid to get notably darker when necessary, making for a perfect blend of tension, heart and humor, along with enough action packed superhero excitement to balance it all out and never leave viewers with a dull moment along the way. For those who have followed this site and my reviews over the years, you’re probably well aware that my opinions of many DC films don’t always match with the general masses, partially due to my love for the style Snyder introduced in ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ yet unfortunately didn’t quite hit the mark with many moviegoers, yet ‘Shazam!’ does such a great job of hitting all the right buttons and balancing the humor with the action and childhood troubles so capably that it just seems to work for nearly everyone. It’s no secret that the Ultimate Cut of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ is my favorite in the recent wave of DC Comics movies, but ‘Shazam!’ is easily my favorite since and also one that’s likely to prove a solid candidate for repeat viewings due its various charms and ability to perfectly capture positive elements from so many genres without things ever feeling overwhelming or jumbled as a result. Not to mention the truly perfect casting of Zachary Levi in the title role and his ability to bring the character to life in a way so fitting that it only skyrockets beyond any possible expectations.
Overall, ‘Shazam!’ is simply amazing, a surprisingly heartwarming superhero adventure that’s as much a coming of age tale as it is a superhero origin and manages to do an impressive job of cleverly balancing the various elements while also benefitting tremendously from the brilliant casting of Zachary Levi in the lead. I can’t possibly recommend ‘Shazam!’ strongly enough. An incredibly fun, funny and touching magical ride that hits all of the right marks, while also serving up plenty of action packed excitement, moving family content and tons of laughs that altogether makes for one outstanding superhero flick that is well worth taking the time to check out whenever possible. For any DC Comics fans out there along with anyone even the slightest bit interested in ‘Shazam!’ to begin with, it shouldn’t have any trouble whatsoever proving well worth the price of a rental and a couple hours of your time, and don’t be overly surprised if you find yourself wanting to add it to your collection shortly thereafter.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Shazam!’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole and provides a smooth, sharp and brightly colored presentation from start to finish, with no notable faults or problems to be uncovered throughout. It holds up admirably even during the various darkly lit, fast moving and/or heavily populated moments and never allows anything occurring onscreen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible along the way. Overall, this is a top notch high definition video presentation that looks consistently wonderful and should more than please the film’s fans as well as first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack delivers a crisp, clean and hard hitting audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send action and flying effects, along with nature elements, crowd chatter, music and plenty more whipping throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate and never conflicting with any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is an outstanding Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that delivers across the board and consistently contributes its share of additional fun to the overall viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Shazam!’ includes a solid collection of bonus content that fans of the movie should have a lot of fun with. Included on the release is the ‘Superhero Hooky’ Exclusive Motion Comic (running approximately 4 minutes in length), along with tons of ‘Deleted and Extended Scenes’ from the movie with Optional Director Introductions (running approximately 37 minutes altogether), a ‘Gag Reel’ (approximately 3 minutes) and a collection of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that feature interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew, a bunch of behind the scenes content, audition footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘The Magical World of Shazam!’ (running approximately 27 minutes), ‘Super Fun Zac’ (approximately 3 minutes), ‘Who is Shazam?’ (6 minutes), ‘Carnival Scene Study’ (10 minutes) and ‘Shazamily Values’ (6 minutes).