Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/12/24;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $124.44 million;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some language and sci-fi violence.
Stars Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park, Temuera Morrison.

Director James Wan’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom represents the end of the road for the so-called DC Extended Universe. Not that you’d know it from the film itself, which makes no references to the larger franchise, even as the world is threatened to such a degree that the Justice League would probably get involved.

The film is a direct sequel to 2018’s Aquaman, and even accounts for the fact that it’s been five years since that film was released. Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), aka Aquaman, splits his time between saving the world, serving as king of Atlantis, and raising his baby son alongside his wife, Mera (Amber Heard). However, Atlantis is threatened by a revenge-minded Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who has spent years search for it only to discover a lost kingdom where he finds a powerful trident that infuses him with the essence of an ancient warlord.

When Black Manta seizes control of an ancient power source that destroys Earth’s atmosphere and mutates living creatures, Aquaman seeks help from his half-brother and former rival to the throne, Orm (Patrick Wilson).

What unfolds is essentially a buddy cop movie with Aquaman as the wise-cracking hotshot and Orm as the serious and mannered sidekick. Their relationship is pretty much the best part of a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and plays pretty fast and loose with the fantastical nature of the Atlantean mythos, which serves as a handy excuse for some flashy and colorful visual effects.

Fans who enjoyed the first Aquaman will no doubt enjoy this continuation the most, as the two films present a nice little duology that isn’t too dependent on the larger context of the now-defunct DCEU.

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The film’s Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD disc presentation includes about an hour of behind-the-scenes material in the form of seven featurettes that are pretty typical for this kind of thing. The primary making-of featurette is the 21-minute “Finding the Lost Kingdom.” The 10-minute “Aquaman: Worlds Above and Below” looks at creating some of the new locations in the film; the six-minute “Necrus: The Lost Black City” focuses specifically on the hidden civilization buried beneath Antarctica, while the eight-minute “Escape From the Deserter World” examines the sequence in which Aquaman frees Orm from his sandy prison, and the four-minute “Brawling at Kingfish’s Lair” showcases an undersea pirate haven. The 10-minute “It’s a Manta World” focuses on the villain, while the two-minute “Oh TOPO!” delves into the expanded role for Aquaman’s octopus sidekick, TOPO, and the four-minute “Atlantean Blood Is Thicker Than Water” spotlights Arthur and Orm’s unique bond.

These extras are also available through most digital platforms, some of which also offer Aquaman Through Fire and Water, a seven-minute motion comic that serves as a loose prequel to the film.

Animated Movie ‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths — Part Two’ Arrives for Disc and Digital Purchase April 23

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths — Part Two on Blu-ray Disc, as a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook, and through digital retailers starting April 23.

The sequel continues the storyline from Part One, which was released last month that adapts Crisis on Infinite Earths, the legendary DC comic book storyline of the same name from the 1980s.

In Part Two, an endless army of Shadow Demons swarms through all the parallel Earths of the multiverse, but a massive team of superheroes led by Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern stands in their way. However, the long-buried secrets of the Monitor and Supergirl could threaten their efforts.

The returning voice cast includes Jensen Ackles as Batman/Bruce Wayne; Darren Criss as Superman & Earth-2 Superman; Meg Donnelly as Supergirl & Harbinger; and Stana Katic as Wonder Woman and Superwoman.

The cast also includes Jonathan Adams as Monitor, Gideon Adlon as Batgirl, Geoffrey Arend as Psycho Pirate/Charles Halstead & Hawkman, Troy Baker as Joker, Zach Callison as Robin, Darin De Paul as Solovar, Ato Essandoh as Mr. Terrific & Anti-Monitor, Keith Ferguson as Dr. Fate & Atomic Knight, Will Friedle as Batman Beyond & Kamandi, Jennifer Hale as Alura & Hippolyta, Aldis Hodge as John Stewart, Jamie Gray Hyder as Hawkgirl, Erika Ishii as Doctor Light/Dr. Hoshi & Huntress, David Kaye as The Question & Satellite, Matt Lanter as Blue Beetle, Liam McIntyre as Aquaman, Lou Diamond Phillips as Spectre, Matt Ryan as Constantine, Keesha Sharp as Vixen, Harry Shum Jr. as Brainiac 5, and Jimmi Simpson as Green Arrow.

Extras include the featurettes “Voices in Crisis” and “The Bat-Family of the Multiverse,” and a sneak peek at the  final part of the trilogy, which will be available later in 2024.

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Animated ‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths — Part One’ Available Digitally Jan. 9, on 4K and Blu-ray Jan. 23

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths — Part One through digital retailers Jan. 9, followed by Blu-ray and 4K disc releases Jan. 23.

Disc configurations include a Steelbook with a 4K Ultra HD disc and a digital edition code, and a regular Blu-ray Disc with a digital copy.

The latest entry in the ongoing continuity of animated DC superhero movies that began with 2020’s Superman: Man of Tomorrow, and following up Justice League: Warworld from earlier this year, Crisis on Infinite Earths is based on the legendary comic book storyline of the same name from the 1980s, and will feature heroes from across the multiverse converging to confront a threat to all existence.

The returning voice cast includes Darren Criss as Superman & Earth-2 Superman; Stana Katic as Wonder Woman and Superwoman; Jensen Ackles as Batman/Bruce Wayne; Matt Bomer as The Flash/Barry Allen; Meg Donnelly as Supergirl & Harbinger; Jimmi Simpson as Green Arrow; Ike Amadi as J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter, Amazing Man and Ivo; Alastair Duncan as Alfred; Ashleigh LaThrop as Iris West; Geoffrey Arend as Psycho Pirate and Hawkman; Cynthia Hamidi as Dawnstar; Aldis Hodge as John Stewart/Green Lantern and Power Ring; Liam Mcintyre as Aquaman and Johnny Quick; Nolan North as Hal Jordan, Amazo and Homeless Man; Keesha Sharp as Vixen; Harry Shum Jr. as Brainiac 5; Alexandra Daddario as Lois Lane; and Zachary Quinto as Lex Luthor.

The cast also includes Jonathan Adams as Monitor, Zack Callison as Dick Grayson/Robin, Matt Lanter as Blue Beetle and Ultraman, Ato Essandoh as Mr Terrific, Erika Ishii as Doctor Light/Dr. Hoshi and Huntress, David Kaye as The Question, and Lou Diamond Phillips as The Spectre and Owlman.

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The physical and digital versions of the film will include the featurettes “Crisis Prime(r),” in which the filmmakers tour the complex storylines they’ve mapped out; and “The Selfless Speedster,” a look at the Flash’s role in the story.

A clip from Justice League Crisis on Infinite Earths — Part Two will be available as a digital extra.

Part Two and Part Three of Crisis will be available later in 2024.

 

DC Comics Film ‘Blue Beetle’ Due on Premium Digital Sept. 26, Disc Oct. 31

The DC Comics-based feature Blue Beetle will debut for premium digital rental (PVOD, $19.99) and sale (PEST, $24.99) on Sept. 26. The Warner Bros. film will be released on DVD, 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc, as well as regular digital, on Oct. 31.

The film has earned $120.6 million at the global box office.

In the DC superhero’s first-ever standalone feature film, recent college grad Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab. When the Scarab suddenly chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he is bestowed with an incredible suit of armor capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the Blue Beetle.

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Extras on PEST and disc include “Generations: Blue Beetle,” a four-part making-of documentary; the “Nana Knows Best”  featurette, about Nana’s transformation from an adorable “abuelita” into a machine gun-wielding revolutionary; and the two-part featurette “Scarab Vision,” in which star Xolo Maridueña hosts a series of scene study walk throughs showcasing how the scarab works and the role it plays in some of Blue Beetle’s most epic moments.

The Flash

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/29/23;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $108.13 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray, $44.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for partial nudity, action sequences of Violence, some strong language.
Stars Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verduì, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue, Michael Keaton.

Director Andy Muschietti’s The Flash would probably have been better regarded as a fun superhero movie if it weren’t dragged down by the baggage of the so-called DCEU.

On the one hand, it’s a solid portrayal of the character that, while taking some liberties with the source material, doesn’t deviate so much from the comics that he’s unrecognizable to fans. On the other hand, the film’s connection with the larger DC movie continuity serves as a beacon-call for hate-watchers to pick apart all the ways it doesn’t make much sense.

That dichotomy is likely to serve as the defining parameter of the ultimate legacy of The Flash — a film that’s entertaining on the surface and offers some genuine emotional beats, but doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.

It’s also a bit unique among the superhero genre in that it’s one of the rare solo-titled adaptations that doesn’t offer a standalone depiction of the character’s origin story. To be honest, it’s actually not much of a solo movie, with all the various Justice League characters that keep popping up.

Instead, the screenplay finds clever ways to present the Flash’s history to the audience by deconstructing his origin story in a way to serve the larger plot.

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Loosely based on the “Flashpoint” storyline from the comics, the film finds Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) feeling helpless in trying to find the key evidence to prove that his dad didn’t murder his mom when he was a kid. When he discovers his super-speed abilities allow him to travel through time, he decides to change history by saving his mom. However, this fractures the timeline to the point where other superheroes no longer exist, leaving the Earth vulnerable to General Zod’s attack (from 2013’s Man of Steel).

Teaming with his younger self, Barry then seeks the aid of this new timeline’s Batman, which turns out to be the Michael Keaton version from the 1989 movie, though now older and retired but seeking a return to action. Hoping to find Superman to fight Zod, they instead uncover Supergirl (Sasha Calle), and set about to restore order.

And that brings us back to the film being anchored to its baggage. With its multiversal time-travel plot, The Flash is essentially a big “what if” scenario for the DC Extended Universe. And since fans already know the DCEU is becoming defunct thanks James Gunn’s new creative direction for a DC-based movie continuity, the Flash’s meddling through time won’t have many consequences going forward.

Having Flash revisit the events of Man of Steel might have served as a poignant capper to the DCEU continuity. But this isn’t quite the end of the DCEU, as there’s still another “Aquaman” movie set for release, which The Flash does pay lip service to setting up. The original intent was supposedly to use Barry’s time meddling in this movie to set up a modified DCEU with Michael Keaton’s Batman, which would then carry over into the Batgirl movie, but when those plans were scuttled the film reshot its ending to rely on nostalgia-based sight gags.

This is not a movie for viewers unfamiliar with what has come before, either in the DCEU or previous DC-based movies and TV shows, as the nostalgia-bait references are laid on fast and thick. There’s even a payoff to what might be one of the biggest Hollywood inside jokes depicted in a movie, stemming from a Kevin Smith anecdote about his work on a Superman movie in the 1990s.

There’s also the matter of the film’s real-world baggage in the form of star Miller’s well-publicized personal and legal troubles, which likely turned off a huge portion of the audience and would make future Miller-based “Flash” movies problematic at best even if this film didn’t lose hundreds of millions of dollars in box office cash. For those able to compartmentalize those issues, Miller actually turns in a good performance as the two Barrys playing off each other. Serving as a superhero mentor to his younger self, in the same way his Justice League cohorts encouraged him, forces Barry to experience some vital self-examination, while his immature counterpart provides the film an opportunity for self-parody.

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Warner’s release pattern for The Flash home video editions represents a departure from the combo packs the studio usually offers, which is disappointing if it represents a policy shift at the studio.

Instead of 4K + Blu-ray or Blu-ray + DVD combo packs, the film’s wide release is standalone 4K, Blu-ray or DVD, each with an add-on digital copy. Fans looking for multidisc combo packs will have to turn to retail exclusives, with Best Buy and Walmart offering 4K+Blu-ray sets, and Target a Blu-ray + DVD pack.

The distribution of the extras is confusing as well, as only the 4K disc offers the full array of bonus materials.

Available with the 4K disc, Blu-ray and digital versions of the film are a handful of pretty good behind-the-scenes featurettes, including the 37-minute “Making the Flash: Worlds Collide,” the eight-and-a-half-minute “Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again,” and the six-and-a-half-minute “Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse.”

Also included is the 16-minute “Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton” mini-documentary about the character’s history and legacy.

However, the most intriguing extra is the entire six-episode “The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus” podcast, which is basically a radio drama of another Flash time travel adventure, running about 93 minutes in total, with Max Greenfield as The Flash. There’s also a two-minute “Midnight Circus” behind-the-scenes featurette.

Exclusive to the 4K disc and digital versions are four featurettes (“Saving Supergirl,” “The Bat Chase,” Battling Zod” and “Fighting Dark Flash,” about six to seven minutes each) and 10 deleted scenes running about 14 minutes total. Many of the deleted scenes expand on character interactions in the film and fill in some minor plot gaps, but are also interesting because the visual effects aren’t finished, so we get to see Ed Wade as the second Barry before being digitally replaced by Miller.

The 4K disc also includes the 38-minute “The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlett Speedster,” a must-see documentary for any fan of The Flash as it delves into the publication history of the character and his pop culture legacy. The digital version of this extra is available exclusively at Amazon Prime Video.

 

Final Season of ‘Titans’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 17

Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment will release Titans: The Fourth and Final Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 17.

Based on DC Comics’ Teen Titans, the show follows a group of young superheroes as they come of age and try to find where they belong while fighting supervillains, dark conspiracies, corrupt laboratories, and demonic possessions.​

The cast includes Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Anna Diop as Kory Anders/Starfire, Teagan Croft as Rachel Roth/Raven, Ryan Potter as Gar Logan/Beast Boy, Joshua Orpin as Connor Kent/Superboy, Jay Lycurgo as Tim Drake, with Franka Potente as May Bennett/Mother Mayhem, and Joseph Morgan as Sebastian Sanger/Brother Blood.

The fourth season of “Titans” was originally presented as an original series on the Max streaming service. The show is produced by Berlanti Productions. Executive producers for the fourth season were Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Walker, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Richard Hatem

The season four Blu-ray and DVD sets will include all 12 episodes and three bonus featurettes: “Welcome to Metropolis,” a profile of the team’s new city after fleeing Gotham; “Baptism of Blood,” a look at the evolution of Sebastian Sanger into the villainous Brother Blood, with actor  Joseph Morgan and specialty costume designer Laura Jean Shannon; and “Mystical Women,” an in-depth look at the powerful magic of Mother Mayhem (Franka Potente) and Jinx (Lisa Ambalavanar).

Also available Oct. 17 will be Titans: The Complete Series on Blu-ray and DVD, which includes all 49 episodes of the show.

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‘The Flash’ to Stream on Max Starting Aug. 25

Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-based The Flash will begin streaming on Max starting Aug. 25.

Ezra Miller returns as The Flash/Barry Allen in the DC superhero’s first-ever standalone feature film. In the film, worlds collide when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past.

The superhero film earned $268.5 million at the global box office.

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The Flash also stars Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston , Maribel Verdú, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue and Michael Keaton.

Justice League: Warworld

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/25/23;
Warner;
Animated;
$24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for some bloody violence.
Voices of Jensen Ackles, Darren Criss, Stana Katic, Ike Amadi, Troy Baker, Matt Bomer, Roger R. Cross, Brett Dalton, John DiMaggio, Robin Atkin Downes, Frank Grillo, Rachel Kimsey, Damian O’Hare, Teddy Sears.

The latest DC animated movie strays a bit from the typical superhero formula but should please fans of the classic trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

The film begins with a bit of an Elseworlds vibe, thrusting audiences into a Wild West adventure with Wonder Woman as a mysterious stranger riding into town to take on the unscrupulous Jonah Hex (which at first blush raises the question of if the filmmakers were doing “Warworld” or “Westworld”). Then, we are presented with Batman transformed into a Conan the Barbarian-type of character in the middle of a power struggle in a swords-and-sorcery setting. From there, the story shifts to a black-and-white 1950s-style ‘B’ movie about an alien invasion, with Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Diana cast as government agents sent to stop it.

The movie seems more invested in these vignettes than whatever story might be suggested by the film’s title. In the comics, War World is an intergalactic gladiatorial arena, a concept that has become something of a cliché in superhero movies by now. The film reimagines War World to suit its needs, but it still takes about an hour before letting the audience in on what might be going on with regards to why these heroes are in the situation they’re in. At nearly 90 minutes, Warworld is still one of the longest standalone movies in the DC animated canon, and it puts that extended time to good use with an action-packed climactic battle. On the other hand, as fun as it is to see many of the characters put into the situations they are in, the film ultimately feels more like a mashup of various ideas the filmmakers were interested in seeing on screen that weren’t a good fit anywhere else, strung together with a plot developed just enough to justify its existence before setting up the next movie with an abrupt cliffhanger ending that literally flies in out of nowhere.

The Blu-ray includes two featurettes that run just under eight minutes each. “Illusions on Warworld” explores the alternate reality scenarios presented in the film, while “The Heroic, the Horrible and the Hideous” focuses on the characters involved.

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Documentary ‘Superpowered: The DC Story’ Debuting on Max July 20

The three-part documentary Superpowered: The DC Story will debut on the Max streaming service July 20.

Narrated by Rosario Dawson, Superpowered examines the history and legacy of DC Comics, its iconic characters and their cultural impact with more than 60 new and archival interviews from DC actors, creators and executives, including Melissa Benoist, Greg Berlanti, Tim Burton, Mike Carlin, Lynda Carter, Henry Cavill, Kaley Cuoco, Gal Gadot, James Gunn, Patty Jenkins, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton, Regina King, Zoë Kravitz, Jim Lee, Zachary Levi, Damon Lindelof, Tom Mankiewicz, Jason Momoa, Christopher Nolan, Robert Pattinson, Christopher Reeve, John Ridley, Margot Robbie, Bruce Timm, Michael E. Uslan and Mark Waid, among others.

Gal Gadot interviewed for ‘Superpowered: The DC Story’

The limited series was directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Mark Catalena. Iwerks also served as showrunner and executive producer alongside Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, David Madden, Jim Lee and Doug Prinzivalli. Catalena was co-executive producer along with Rachael Jerahian, Jonathan Gabay and Adam Schlagman. Superpowered: The DC Story was produced by Warner Bros. Unscripted Television in association with Warner Horizon, DC, Berlanti Productions and Iwerks & Co.

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Episode Descriptions:

  • Episode 1: The Hero’s Journey — For over 85 years, DC has been home to a universe of iconic characters and unparalleled storytelling, but its origins began with the brilliant minds who created a Super Hero trinity: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. From survival to revival, DC navigates the birth of the sidekick, parental concerns after WWII, and a corporate takeover amid a struggle to stay current.
  • Episode 2: Coming of Age —During a period of declining comic book sales, a bold move resets DC’s entire universe, as the company decides to also take a gamble on a new Superman movie. While rivals begin to address pressing social issues, a determined DC introduces their first black superhero and breaks story boundaries under their new imprint, Vertigo Comics, with the hopes of maturing comic books into an everlasting adult art form.
  • Episode 3: A Better Tomorrow — Tired of being left out of the conversation, a group of diverse creators form Milestone Media to give voice to marginalized characters and stories born out of their own experiences. After more than eight decades of history, DC visionaries look toward a future that is representative of all in their ever-expanding universe.

 

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/23/23;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $57.64 million;
$24.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray, $39.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence, and language.
Stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Rachel Zegler, Grace Caroline Currey, Ross Butler, Ian Chen, D.J. Cotrona, Jovan Armand, Meagan Good, Faithe Herman, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren, Marta Millans, Cooper Andrews.

If ever there were a poster child for a studio undercutting its own IP, it’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

It’s not that it’s a bad film — it’s fun and highly entertaining. But in the leadup to its theatrical release, the newly constituted Warner Bros. Discovery announced plans to reboot the entirety of the DC Comics film franchise — of which the sequel to 2019’s well-regarded Shazam! was a part. On top of that, the character’s historic comic book arch-nemesis, Black Adam, got his own solo movie just a few months earlier, amid widespread rumors that its star, Dwayne Johnson, was so adamant about downplaying any connection to Shazam that he nixed any potential crossover cameos.

Such PR negativity so dampened enthusiasm for any remaining DC sequels still tied to the old continuity that the studio’s marketers decided to spoil one of the film’s major cameos in a TV spot in a desperate attempt to reignite fan interest. It didn’t work, with Fury of the Gods generating about one-third the box office of its predecessor four years earlier.

The pandemic probably didn’t help matters either; taking two years off the timeline of when a potential sequel could come out doesn’t do any favors to maintaining audiences’ familiarity with a relatively niche character in the DC Comics canon.

The shame of it is, this is a decent, if imperfect, sequel to one of the more irreverent superhero properties to hit the big screen in a while.

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Picking up a couple years after where the previous film left off, Shazam (Zachary Levi), the adult superhero form of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), is joined by his family of foster brothers and sisters in a full-fledged superhero team of kids who turn into adults imbued with the powers of the mythological gods when they say the word “Shazam.” And they are apparently horrible at it, being lambasted in the media for causing more harm than they try to prevent. On top of that, Billy’s best friend Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) is having too much fun in his superhero form (Adam Brody), often going on solo adventures to the chagrin of Billy.

In the midst of the Shazam Family trying to find its balance, a trio of sisters visits Earth from the Realm of the Gods in order to reclaim the Shazam powers, which they say were stolen from them by the Wizard (Djimon Hounsou) who gave Billy his powers in the first film. The Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, Rachel Zegler) also seek the means to restore life to their own realm through a golden apple hidden somewhere in the Rock of Eternity, which happens to be the Shazam Family’s headquarters.

To force Shazam’s cooperation, the Daughters kidnap Freddy and remove his powers, having retrieved the magical staff that empowered the team in the first film. But they imprison Freddy in the same cell as the Wizard, and the interplay between Grazer and Hounsou as the pair plot their escape is among the film’s best material.

The sisters also encase Shazam’s home city, Philadelphia, in an impenetrable magic dome, which at least explains why other DC heroes aren’t getting involved in the fight. One downside to storytelling in a shared universe is that if the villain’s plot registers on a global scale, it raises the question of why the other established heroes of the franchise aren’t all showing up to try to stop it as well (a prime example of this is Marvel’s Eternals, in which the potential destruction of the Earth apparently drew the curiosity of zero Avengers).

To save Freddy, free the city and prevent the Daughters’ from unleashing monsters upon the Earth, Billy must figure out how to retrieve the staff and return the sisters to their realm.

Levi continues to have all the fun as a teenager inhabiting a middle-aged adult’s body, though he seems to be even more immature as Shazam than the teenage Billy, who is nearing 18 and demonstrates more self-awareness than his adult self. The film at least has other characters call out how Shazam’s shtick is getting old, pointing out that the “S” in his name is supposed to represent Solomon’s wisdom — a trait he has been lacking thus far.

Also a bit weird is that the film has retained all the adult/kid cast from the first film, with the exception that Grace Caroline Currey is now playing the adult hero version of Mary in addition to her younger form. The filmmakers cite the character now being over 18 as the reason for the change, as Michelle Borth played the older form of Mary in the previous film. It’s a bit weird visually just compared with all the other characters changing actors in their superhero forms (especially considering they reshot a flashback to the first film, but used Currey instead of Borth, and this film’s updated costume designs). As the film establishes that both Billy and Freddy are about to turn 18, this logic would have Angel and Grazer playing their own Shazam versions in any future installments instead of Levi and Brody, which doesn’t seem a likely direction for the filmmakers to go in (not that any more sequels are likely forthcoming given this film’s dire box office pronouncements).

However, the film’s best running gag, at least for anyone with an appreciation for comic book history, involves the Shazam Family trying to figure out superhero names, since they can’t just introduce themselves as “Shazam” without turning their powers on and off. That’s because their superhero names in the comics were variations of Billy’s original alter ego — Captain Marvel, a moniker now controlled by DC’s rival, Marvel Comics, thanks to a complicated legal history.

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The film looks great in 4K and on Blu-ray, filled with some dazzling visual effects and an amazing array of mythological creatures with designs that draw inspiration from Ray Harryhausen.

The disc and digital editions of the film offer a number of good bonus materials. In the 4K combo pack, all the extras are on the regular Blu-ray, not the 4K disc.

Both the Blu-ray and 4K disc do offer an informative commentary track with director David F. Sandberg, who discusses how the production sidestepped a number of challenges in the visual effects and editing of the film.

Sandberg refers to a lot of material cut out of the film, many of which are included among the deleted, alternate and extended scenes, 29 of them totaling 31 minutes.

The Blu-ray also includes more than an hour of making-of featurettes.

The primary behind-the-scenes video is the 25-minute “Shazam! Let’s Make a Sequel,” which offers a nice overview of the production in general. The four-minute “The Zac Effect” focuses on the film’s star and his impact on the film, while the five-minute “Shazamily Reunion” shines a light on the other members of Team Shazam, and the eight-minute “Sisterhood of Villains” details the creation and portrayal of the Daughters of Atlas. “The Rock of Eternity: Decked Out” is a nearly six-minute featurette about how the Shazam Family have decorated their lair. The five-minute “Mythology of Shazam! Fury of the Gods” chronicles the real Greek myths that inspired much of the film’s premise.

Rounding out the extras is “Shazam! Scene Deconstruction,” a 10-minute video about the making of five action sequences.