Magic Man

Shazam doesn’t have a secret lair; he doesn’t have a permanent home, either. So, Shazam visits a real estate agent to see if they have anything, say, up on a mountain, or even in one. A one bedroom, preferably.

Shazam is a kid, after all, superhero powers gifted to him as a high school freshman. Kids will play with Superman toys flying through the air, but never question if super-beings pay taxes. Shazam will have to… when he’s older. For now, he needs a Batcave.

Billy Batson/Shazam (Asher Angel) bounces around the foster care system, distant and shy until he finds a family who truly cares for him. On the other side, the emasculated Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong) who spends his entire adult life trying to spite his father and brother. It’s simple – too simple – in telling a story of what family is, tender and sweet between the magical lightning bolts. Funny too, with Zachary Levi goofballing through his role in the same vein as Big… but with lightning bolts.

One family lets their kids be their own people, like their own things, and celebrates their uniqueness. The other pigeonholes their kids, disallowing imagination and creation. Boys act like boys. That’s final, and a villain is born as a result.

Shazam is an indistinct offering of montages, power discovery, and balancing a hero’s life

In telling an origin story, Shazam is an indistinct offering of montages, power discovery, and balancing a hero’s life with basic teen social standing. A few twists on formula find their way in. A woman becomes agitated at her rescue since she had everything under control, comically zinging man-saves-woman routines. Then, Shazam learns the value of capitalism instead of heroics, shooting lightning to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger,” impressing Philadelphia’s residents enough to chip in cash. Time spent skewering the bloated genre pay off.

Eventually, in comes the good-versus-evil stand-off. That happens over an hour in, giving Shazam more levity than most of DC’s features. Shazam steps up not only to Strong but the Seven Deadly Sins, philosophically unexplored, and included more for their serpentine/demon aesthetics. Strong’s stock villain uses them to prop up his perceived lack of strength; he uses greed in a more literal way than Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko. It’s less a fight of world domination than of two male archetypes butting heads. Turns out, the shy geeky kid calls upon something stronger than sin – family. It’s a shame Shazam aims for the PG-13 market. The derivative set-up and theme aim younger. It’s schmaltzy, even corny, but ensures the symbolism isn’t lost.


Video (4K UHD)

What a difference 4K makes. Shazam will still battle with an artificial grain structure, presumably to keep the aesthetic in-line with other DC live action movies. Warner’s encode chokes at a few points, especially where smoke/fog/haze come into the frame. Some mild loss of fidelity is the result.

Those down moments do not counter the rest, gaining substantial detail in this 2K upscale. Facial definition and texture receives a hearty boost over Blu-ray. CG elements bring out wonderful high-fidelity material. When the camera pulls back, cities and suburbia shine.

The key factor is Dolby Vision, providing Shazam with booming contrast. Brightness skirts the line toward clipping on occasion, but like the noise overlay, benefits outweigh negatives. Jump to the finale inside a carnival where Christmas lights stand out during a fight containing marvelous electrical blasts, plus an entire city at night. Black level depth is at the peak of HDR, highlights likewise so.

Shazam also pushes tremendous color depth, again at the best during the climactic scenes. Multiple superhero suits sport divergent hues, and the holidays display the full potential of this tech.

Video (Blu-ray)

Generally bright and pleasing cinematography keeps up an attractive appearance. High contrast produces rich dimension alongside perfect black levels. A moment or two of crush is easily ignored. Streaks of lightning and the Christmas setting bulk up on light.

That much brightness leans into detail, sharply handling facial texture. Picking up detail on the Shazam suit is easy, even with distance. Overall resolution makes for some stellar shots of Philly from the air, and other exteriors in suburbia.

Plus, Shazam pushes color, from the red/yellow mix of the hero suit to other primaries. Boldness doesn’t restrain itself, splashing the screen with elevated hues and few scenes of dimmer, blue-dominant scenery. Even those look great.

So far, so good, until noise comes into the fray. It’s persistent and heavy, not handled well by Warner’s encode. The result is the dilution of detail, a casualty that leaves a mark if not enough to wash everything away.

Audio

Lively mixing gives Shazam sonic life. Voices, powers, and ambiance whip around the Atmos soundstage, if rarely in the heights, but precise in surrounds. All of this is prominent too, forceful in making sure activity stays high.

Dynamics stretch into the low-end with heavy thumps, adding to lightning bolts with thunder afterward. Battles engage in each speaker, with low-end accompaniment adding appropriate thrust. Super strength sounds as such.

This doesn’t have the outrageous might of say, Aquaman, but Shazam’s popcorn origins blare with terrific weight and range.

Extras

A better than (admittedly low) expectations featurette runs 27-minutes, a making of titled Magic World of Shazam that delves into the production beginning to end. An EPK about Levi is ready made for skipping past. Sixteen deleted scenes run a beefy 37-minutes, with a short gag reel offering some fun. A look back at Shazam’s origins run nearly six-minutes, a brief if solid recap. Up next is a deep dive into the finale and the filming approach, well focused for all 10 minutes. A look at the extended cast lasts for six minutes, and a motion comic runs four.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Shazam
  • Video (4K UHD)
  • Video (Blu-ray)
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Lighter fare in the DC movie-verse, Shazam tells a fine story of family importance between a typical, generic superhero origin.

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