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LEGO DC Shazam: Magic and Monsters (w/Figurine) (Blu-ray/DVD)
My son's tastes in entertainment have been changing a little, moving subtly away from the animated concept stuff to a little more tangible, like Spielberg and the Jurassic Park movies. And I've been trying to show him some of the superhero movies, ones that won't scare him like the modern Superman because it avoids darkness and cynicism that I certainly don't want to impart on him NOW. But he seems to find a little bit of a balance in superhero ethos within the LEGO backdrop, as that is something else that is slowly rising in the house.
Jeremy Adams has written several different LEGO projects along with this one, and Matt Peters directs this film about Billy Batson, who is a ten-year-old orphan, but learns he not only has superpowers than turn him into a grownup named Shazam (voiced by Sean Astin, Lord of the Rings). When Black Atom threatens the city and the other members of the Justice League including Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, Billy digs deep to stop him as Shazam, while trying to avoid telling his idols the truth.
The tendency of stories to flirt or fully dive into the limitations of LEGO as a limitation or material makes Magic and Monsters kind of sweet; given Astin's emotion and vulnerability to most of the material he has, so Shazam/Billy is a firmly placed character of innocence and naivete trying to deal with his superpowers; Zach Callison gets a secondary shout as the young Billy.
The other members of the cast are presumably familiar to the voiceover world, with the only recognizable ones being Ralph Garman (playing The Wizard) and Mr. Show supporting cast member/voice of SpongeBob Squarepants Tom Kenny playing The Penguin, and also playing Perry White, as Justice League finds themselves in Metropolis. The other members of the JL turn in earnest efforts into the characters, most not really doing anything that is satirical, mostly focusing on working with Shazam. And it works!
Looking at the story of Shazam! Magic and Monsters, there isn't much to it that separates from a lot of other super hero stories that have been told. The big conditional here is that it doesn't play into the LEGO gimmick as other ones have, the gimmick stands on its own and the story combined with Astin's performance in the lead, makes for a nice and sweet film that you will probably forget about a week or a month from now, but if your kid likes it as mine did, then you'll be enthused to get him to more non-LEGO superhero material.
The 1.78:1 widescreen presentation of Magic and Monsters is fine? It's digitally created and presented, and things look like any similar LEGO production I've seen, perhaps it looks a little too clean I guess. Colors look sharp but not too vivid (looking at costumes for example. It looks about what I expected something like this to look.
The DTS-HD MA lossless track is actually pretty good, containing a lot of low-end for many explosions and channel panning for the numerous sequences that involve Flash. Dialogue sounds good and the battles could almost pass off for low-end practical shot action films. For as much as I expected the film to look a certain way, I was blown away by the sound for this, so the score may reflect it, maybe the mask is impeding my judgment.
There are three shorts here: ‘Teen Titans Go!' has an episode here (11:01) which is DC related and the closest thing to a tie-in for the feature, or so I presume. Two other shorts for ‘Unikitty!' run similar in length around eleven minutes each, and there's a digital copy.
I have not seen a lot of these LEGO DC projects, but I came away impressed with Shazam! Magic and Monsters. Whether that is because that I came in with little to no expectations or not remains to be seen, but it was fairly confident storytelling with a protagonist that was able to carry the material when it was necessary. Technically the disc is good (the soundtrack is better), the extras are not worth the effort. Overall it's a nice investment of 80 minutes with your child, your LEGO enthusiast, or both.