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Falling under the auspices of the DC Showcase banner, SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM ($30) assemble four animated shorts, three of which have appeared elsewhere, as well at the new twenty four minute title that marquees the package. Just an FYI… while three of the shorts have appeared on previous DC Universe releases, all three are offered here in extended versions that contain footage not seen in the past. SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM is a hoot and a half and by far my favorite title on this release.

Offering up an origin story for Captain Marvel, the premise of SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM finds Clark Kent in Fawcett City, interviewing orphaned Billy Batson, when the boy is attacked by Black Adam, a magically powered supervillain, who proves problematic for Superman to stop. As it turns out Black Adam, was exiled from Earth five thousand years ago by the wizard Shazam and has returned to destroy the wizard’s heir apparent- Billy Batson. During the fray, Billy has an encounter with the wizard Shazam, who provides him with the means of summoning the powers of Captain Marvel. SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM features the vocal talent of George Newbern, Jerry O'Connell, Zach Callison, James Garner, Danica McKellar, Kevin Michael Richardson and Arnold Vosloo.

DC Showcase: The Spectre offers up a seventies era detective tale, with some Grindhouse inspired digital print damage to add a delightfully seedy quality to the production. The premise follows the murder of a Hollywood heavyweight and subsequent investigation by hard-boiled police detective Jim Corrigan, with Corrigan’s otherworldly alter ego wreaking bloody vengeance on the guilty. Vocal talents include Gary Cole, Alyssa Milano, Jeff Bennett, Rob Paulsen and Jon Polito. DC Showcase: Jonah Hex finds the horribly disfigured bounty hunter riding into a western town looking for the newly arrived Red Doc, who was last seen at in the company of Madame Lorraine. Dead or alive is all the same to Hex, and he does what it takes to secure Red Doc’s current whereabouts from Madame Lorraine. Vocal talents include Thomas Jane, Linda Hamilton, Jason Marsden, Michael Rooker and Michelle Trachtenberg. DC Showcase: Green Arrow finds the road to romance for superheroes is always paved with obstacles, with Green Arrow having to postpone a marriage proposal to Black Canary, while saving a young princess from assassins. Vocal talents include Neal McDonough, Malcolm McDowell, Steven Blum, Grey DeLisle, John DiMaggio and Ariel Winter.

Warner Home Video has made SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM comes with a very solid 1080p presentation. The image is very crisp; with the strong lines of the animation being cleanly reproduced, not to mention displaying all the clarity and detail of this type of 2D animation could muster. Colors are bright and vibrant, with completely stable hues. Blacks are inky and the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast is smooth with stylized qualities. SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM wasn’t produced on film, and therefore, is free from grain and print flaws associated with the medium. The DC Showcase shorts also look quite good with The Spectre and Jonah Hex having decidedly stylized appearances.

SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The soundtrack is definitely beefy, delivering a wallop during the action heavy sequences. Considering the direct-to-video origins, the track is a bit more front-loaded than a theatrical feature, but the surround channels do get the job done rather well. The lossless encode provides for rich sounding music and convincing effects. The bass channel is forceful and percussive. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. A Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been encoded onto the disc, as have English, French and Spanish subtitles. The DC Showcase shorts also have effective soundtracks.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Starting things off, are four separate running Audio Commentaries, one for each of the shorts. Next up are some bonus Bruce Timm Selected TV Episodes: From BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES comes Showdown featuring Jonah Hex; from BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD comes The Chill Of The Night featuring The Spectre; from JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED comes Initiation featuring Green Arrow and Clash featuring Captain Marvel. A Trailer for BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD closes out the extras.

SUPERMAN/SHAZAM!: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM is a very cool short, but a release like this really could use some more new material to help justify the asking price. The Blu-ray presentations for all four shorts are pretty great.


Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam (DC Showcase) [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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