REVIEW: LEGO DC: Shazam! – Magic and Monsters
In the right hands, the original Captain Marvel should be a children’s staple because the premise is so catchy for young readers: a young orphan is introduced to a wizard who bestows upon him the power of the gods. With one magic word, Billy Batson is transformed to Captain Marvel although these days, the legal gods insist he has to be named Shazam, which is also the name of the wizard.
Thanks to the success of the 2019 feature film, the Big Red Cheese gets the brick treatment in the just-released LEGO DC: Shazam! – Magic and Monsters, a charming film that properly brings the hero to his audience. There’s no doubt the creators have found the essence of the hero, as they have similarly done with great success across the pop culture spectrum. Here, we get the origin story and soon after, Shazam (Sean Astin) is invited to join the Justice League – Superman (Nola North), Batman (Troy Baker), Wonder Woman (Grey Griffin), Green Lantern (Cristina Milizia), the Flash (James Arnold) — where he frets about them thinking less of him for being an actual kid.
As one would expect, his two greatest nemeses – Doctor Sivana (Dee Bradley Baker) and Mister Mind (Johnny Rees) – show up to spoil the fun and provide the impetus for action and mayhem. Their plan has the tried and true formula of reducing the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes to children, so Billy/Shazam gets to lead the way, proving his virtue. And with a Black Adam film in the offing, this is a perfect place to introduce him, voiced by Imari Williams, to the viewers who will want to see Dwayne Johnson as Teth-Adam. To take on the JL, an impromptu Monster Society of Evil is assembled with Dummy (Taylor), Oom (Tatasciore), and Crocodile-Man (Baker). This is a take on the hero his crank cocreator, C.C. Beck, would likely approve of.
These films are great fun thanks to the tone and the jokes which range from the obvious for the little viewers to the groaners for adults, making this a worthy family-friendly film for all. The filmmakers know how to make things interesting and feel fresh while providing us with clearly recognizable takes on the heroes and villains. There’s self-aware humor, loving satire, and outrageous humor along with thrills. Heck, even Lobo (Fred Tatasciore) makes an appearance.
In many ways, the 81-minute movie, written by Jeremy Adams and directed by Matt Peters, is more consistently entertaining than many of the animated original films from their sister division at Warner Bros.
The film comes in a nice Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD combo, and the box set has a limited edition Shazam mini-figure. The only bonus features are from Teen Titans Go! — “Little Elvis” (which guest-stars Shazam) and Unkitty! — “Spoooooky Game”, and “Pool Duel”.