Families in need of a dose of animated superhero hijinks will appreciate a light-hearted look at a classic character transformed into a mini-block powerhouse within a famed constructible universe in Lego DC: Shazam: Magic and Monsters (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 81 minutes, $24.98).
The Lego-ized world of DC Comics welcomes the mighty Shazam and his alter ego, 10-year-old orphan Billy Batson to its fold in an origin tale that weaves an irresistible mix of familiar heroes and villains into an action-packed and humorous story about teamwork and trust.
Specifically, the Justice League of America — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz) — join forces with the mysterious Shazam in Metropolis to stop the evil plans of Mister Mind and his minions of the Monster Society of Evil (Oom, Crocodile Man, Penguin and Manbat).
When Shazam is asked to join the legendary JLA, but only if he will reveal his secret identity, the hero refuses, worried that he will be shunned for being just a kid. However, when Mister Mind turns the Justice League into children, Shazam returns to help save the day.
Of course, even more chicanery awaits the team with an epic battle on the lair of Shazam’s wizard mentor, the Rock of Eternity, and Metropolis plays out as Mister Mind releases an imprisoned and power-hungry Black Adam (a mortal enemy of Shazam) to battle him and the League in an rousing conclusion.
A fantastic voice-over cast really sells the adventure led by Sean Astin (“Lord of the Rings”) as Shazam. The veteran actor brings a fresh level of kid-like giddy enthusiasm to the role.
Better yet, the collection of pop-art characters practically spans eight decades of comic books. Expect appearances by Perry White, Lois Lane, Krypto the Super Dog, the Wizard, Mary Batson and almost all of Shazam’s major enemies such as Black Adam and Dr. Sivana.
I especially loved the totally bizarre Mister Mind, a super intelligent, telepathic and diabolical green caterpillar with an insatiable appetite created back in 1943 for “Captain Marvel Adventures No. 26.”
The impeccably sharp computer animation also delivers with Lego bricks used in nearly everything to build the weapons, vehicles, structures and even connecting corn kernels to stalks.
Also, visuals highlighted by the full-screen, high-definition format that will catch the eye include the reflections off of Shazam’s metallic golden belt, trim on his white cape and gauntlets.
Or, check out Flash speed running along falling building bricks to rescue citizens plunging to their doom, a crystal cocoon that houses a monstrous moth version of Mister Mind (Lego-ized of course), and the celestial color scheme of purples and blues surrounding the Rock of Eternity.
Suffice it to report, this is a gold mine for youngsters enamored with some of DC greatest heroes and guarantees they will be diving into their Lego collections to recreate some of the adventures.
Best extras: Viewers get three extra cartoon episodes that will work well to run before the main event.
First, the animated show “Teen Titans Go!” contributes the very amusing episode “Little Elvis,” starring Mister Mind versus Shazam (who sounds a bit like the King).
Next are two 11-minute frenetic and wacky cartoony episodes “Spooooky Game” and “Poll Duel” from the show “Unikitty!” Most youngsters will know of the Cartoon Network series that features the odd cat and unicorn hybrid that appeared in “The Lego Movie” universe.
Finally, and best of all, sticking with the themes of kid-friendly as well as perpetuating the Lego brand, the package includes an exclusive, 1-3/4-inch-tall, mini-block figure of Shazam. Owners assemble five pieces — hair, head, torso, legs and white, cloth cape — and are ready to take him on new adventures.