Shazam! Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Shazam! The latest DCU adventure that tells the origin story of a streetwise fourteen-year-old named Billy Batson who proves that perhaps we all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

98

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 132 minutes
Genre: Fantasy

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou
Directed by: David F. Sandberg
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Written by: Henry Gayden
Region Code: A

Release Date: July 16, 2019

“Just Say the Word”

Synopsis:

“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).” – Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

My Take:

I must admit to being a big kid at heart. It is something that doesn’t seem to change with age so I guess I am lucky. I have always enjoyed fantasy and when heroes from the pages of comic books began making their way to the big screen, I was all in. I was more of a Marvel Comic reader as a kid but, I certainly dabbled in my share of DC comics. I really wasn’t much of a Shazam/Captain Marvel fan but, I did watch the 1970s TV series and enjoyed it, warts an all. The trailer for Shazam! didn’t really appeal to me as it really looked like more of a comedy than a dyed in the wool big budget superhero action adventure. Based on that I opted to wait for it to come to home video, despite hearing positive things about it from people, including my son, that had seen it.

Shazam! is an entertaining blend of comedy, action and drama that creates just the right mix of those elements so as to not lean too far toward one or the other. The script does a solid job of character building, especially in the case of Billy Batson/Shazam and Freddie and seems to carefully focus on the relationship between the them which is truly when the film’s spirit is found. The film’s first two acts contain its best moments while act three spends just a bit too much time on overlong sequences that needed tighter editing. Regardless, I found the action and production elements to be lots of fun to watch and appreciated the casting choices, especially those of the three principle players in Zack Levi, Jack Dylan Grazer and, Asher Angel. Honorable mention goes out to young Faithe Herman whose adorability factor simply can’t be overlooked. This is now my second viewing of Shazam and my feelings remain the same. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise which goes to show that the DCU is finding its way to providing quality genre entries that fans can be proud to own.

Replay Value: 4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of action, language, and some suggestive material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Shazam! comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atoms/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray Shazam! is derived from a 3.4K source. I wasn’t able to determine whether it was rendered from 2K or 4K DI. This is a top-notch Ultra HD presentation that looks superb on my large screen. What struck me from the onset is the lifelike reproduction of the textures captured by the camera’s lens. Whether it be the finest minutia in physical features or textures on the surfaces of buildings, streets, office/school interiors, or the wide-angle shots of the various shooting locations, the imagery is gorgeous. The benefits of high dynamic range and wide color gamut are on display as the film’s variety of colors, particularly primary colors, have an added dimension that enlivens shots where they would normally have blended in, being seen as a less provocative background element that would generally go unnoticed. The scene in the convenience store is a great example of this.

Whites are emboldened, detailed and bright, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. Contrast abounds, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, bringing it to a visually rewarding level. Brightly lit interior scenes look great but, it’s the scenes shot at night or in the Wizard’s keep that truly standout. Chapter 6 (when Freddie and Shazam are testing out his powers) and chapter 12 (the standoff at the carnival) are my favorites. The specular highlights set against the dark backgrounds look outstanding. Shot digitally, this rendering reproduces its elements with aplomb.

Looking at the 1080p version, which is excellent as well, the difference isn’t subtle. That being said, there is no question that this is among the best-looking Ultra HD renderings I have seen. It’s that good.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Shazam!, I found the HDR renderings to be close but, the Dolby Vision presentation edged out the HDR-10 rendering. This came primarily in the form of minutely improved interstitials in blacks. I also thought that white detail fared better ever so slightly. Color rendering was a tossup, but, if I was forced to choose, I would give the nod to the Dolby Vision’s reproduction of red and blue. As I alluded to earlier, each of these presentations looked terrific, and share many of the same positive attributes. Both are simply fantastic and deserving of their technical ratings. I suspect that those capable of viewing it in Dolby Vision will find it to be just a notch above.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes effective use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music accompaniment. This is done to excellent effect, creating a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events in an involving and, entertaining fashion. Right at the onset, with the film’s opening segment in the Wizard’s chamber it’s obvious that this has the potential to be solid Atmos mix. The sounds of the voices of the evil Seven are spread over the sound field, providing a 360-degree effect, that is quite cool.

Everything comes together during chapter 12, where the Shazam squares off Dr. Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins, with a little help. There are a host of lightning bolts, nearfield pans, and flying debris that rotate around the soundstage, shifting overhead, passing by at ear level and coming directly at the listening position. It all makes for a resplendent blend of room traversing, and well-balanced sound that shows what this format is capable of. I had a great time with this superb audio mix.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Audio: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Shazam! comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is a high-quality video presentation where fidelity appears intact as colors are vividly reproduced via lustrous primaries, and rich secondary hues that look beautiful in high definition. Fleshtones predominantly appear warm, and lifelike (no deduction required). Blacks are dynamic, gradationally satisfying, and deep, which is accentuated by contrast that is spot on and stable over the course of the presentation. The blend during sequences containing mixed light/dark elements looks superlative. Resolution is excellent especially during close-ups which reveal crisp definition and fine textural nuance. Wide angle shots exhibit strong dimension with appreciable object detail. Softening is apparent from time to time but appears innate to the photography. Shazam! looks terrific on Blu-ray.

The 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD (Atmos core) surround mix is excellent and features wide dynamic range, superlative clarity and high-level detail. Dialog is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it is located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundstage. Front and rear channel imaging is excellent. This draws out both large and small sound elements and allows their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable.

The music score, coupled with the integration of discrete and atmospheric surround sound effects, plays an intricate role in this active surround mix. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The atmospheric effects associated with the various environments featured in the story sound engagingly real. Low frequency effects are applied authoritatively and underscore the audio presentation with aplomb. Its palpable presence is never in question as it renders refined bass quality that kicks nicely and extends deep enough to engage the room.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Shazam! Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Shazam! Blu-ray
    • Shazam Exclusive Motion Comic
    • The Magical World of Shazam
    • Super Fun Zac
    • Carnival Scene Study, Shazamily Values
    • Shazamily Values
    • Who is Shazam?
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Gag Reel
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Shazam! brings another iconic DC superhero to the big screen. I liked the conceptual approach taken which allows the character to appeal to a broader fan base while bringing his origin story onscreen to life. It comes to Blu-ray in the Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring sparking Ultra HD video (with Dolby Vision HDR), reference quality lossless surround sound, including an engaging Dolby Atmos immersive mix, and top-notch high definition video quality. Rounding out the package is a fan friendly assortment of extras. [i]Shazam!] turned out to be a pleasant surprise which goes to show that the DCU is finding its way to providing quality genre entries that fans can be proud to own. This one is highly recommended viewing on Blu-ray at the highest quality that your home theater system can reproduce.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems