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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam
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Posted December 24 2010 - 10:02 AM
SUPERMAN/SHAZAM! The Return of Black Adam Blu-ray
Studio: Warner Premiere
Film Length: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: November 9, 2010
Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam is the new direct-to-DVD and Blu-ray cartoon adaptation of the Captain Marvel origin story. Clark Kent(George Newbern) is in Fawcett City interviewing young Billy Batson(Zach Callison) when Black Adam(Arnold Vosloo) returns to seek revenge against the wizard Shazam(James Garner). Billy Batson finds himself in the middle when Black Adam senses the wizard’s presence on Billy and Captain Marvel(Jerry O’Connell) comes to the rescue.
Long before the Polar Express, Billy Batson appeared in the comic pages in the early 1940s and took an enchanted subway train to meet the wizard Shazam. This animated adaptation of Captain Marvel’s origin story remains relatively true to the established mythos, even as it introduces Superman into the mix. The screenplay conveys effectively that this Captain Marvel is more or less as powerful as Superman himself, since Superman seems unable to deal alone with the threat of Black Adam. Fans of Captain Marvel are likely to enjoy this unique spin on his origin story.
This Blu-ray is actually a cartoon collection entitled DC Showcase Animated Original Shorts with the Superman/Shazam cartoon as the centerpiece. The other shorts are slightly extended versions of shorts that have appeared as extras on previous DC Comics animation releases. These shorts feature the Spectre(Gary Cole), Green Arrow(Neal McDonough), and Jonah Hex(Thomas Jane).
The respective shorts are presented in 1080p high definition in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with the VC-1 codec. The picture quality is excellent for the sharp line style of the animation; colors are vibrant with no apparent compression artifacts.
The English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio tracks carry a surprising amount of directional audio for sound effects. The result is as immersive a soundtrack as you might hope for in this type of animated feature.
The special features include all of the following:
Superman/Shazam Commentary by screenwriter Michael Jelenic: (24:32)
Spectre Commentary by screenwriter Steve Niles: (12:52)
Green Arrow Commentary by screenwriter Greg Weisman: (12:13)
Jonah Hex Commentary by screenwriter Joe Lansdale: (13:03)
Bonus episodes selected by producer Bruce Timm: Episodes of other DC animated cartoons are included that feature the same characters that appear in the shorts: Jonah Hex, Spectre, Green Arrow, and Captain Marvel, respectively. The episodes are as follows:
"Showdown"(21:10): Episode of Batman: The Animated Series featuring Jonah Hex.
"The Chill of the Night"(22:46): Episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold featuring the Spectre.
"Initiation"(23:43): Episode of Justice League Unlimited featuring Green Arrow.
"Clash"(22:43): Episode of Justice League Unlimited featuring Captain Marvel.
Trailer (0:33): This short trailer is for Batman: Brave and the Bold on DVD.
Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam is an entertaining rendition of the Captain Marvel legend that is respectful of the character’s mythology and succeeds at the same time in highlighting some of the differences between this character and Superman. It would have been all too easy for the producers of this feature to make Captain Marvel appear as little more than a Superman with a different costume but this was fortunately not the case here. The voice acting is excellent and it was a pleasant surprise to hear James Garner providing the voice of the wizard. The video and audio presentation are excellent on the shorts, although the bonus cartoons selected by Bruce Timm suffer from the same interlacing issues that have plagued these bonus episodes on prior releases. It bears mention that this release bears one of the most striking and attractive covers of any of the direct-to-DVD animated features released by Warner Premiere, and this Blu-ray is worth almost worth a purchase just for the packaging, much less the disc included within it. Although it would a better value if the running time of the features was closer to 2 hours than one, the bonus episodes in the special features places the total running time at closer to 3 hours. Sometimes less is more, which is shown to be the case since the 4 main features leave you wanting more, rather than letting you get bored before it is all over. Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam on Blu-Ray is recommended to anyone who appreciates the DC pantheon of superheroes, or animated cartoons, or both.