Where I Watched It: HBo MAX
English Audio Description Provided By Deluxe
Narrated By Sam Park
The year of sequels has me coming back around to a lot of the original films that started it all. So, here we have Shazam, a film that just had a sequel released last month, and is destined for HBo MAX likely in late May or early June. This was my second time through it, but the first was me struggling to watch it without audio description in my beginnings of blindness when I had no idea how to turn things on, or where things were with audio description. Certainly before DC films were consolidated on HBo MAX.
Often, my reviews are firt time looks, or a film I had seen before and now am experiencing blind. i think this might be the first one where my viewing a few years ago was without audio description, and the second was with.
While I didn’t remember necessarily everything in Shazam, due to the lack of audio description, I remember enjoying it as lighter fare, especially for the DC Universe, which at the time was still rather dark. Zachary Levi’s titular hero was a breath of fresh air, and still is. I’m hoping that the failure of the sequel doesn’t mean the end of Levi in this role.
Sure, the first film isn’t perfect. The bad guy (Mark Strong) is woefully underdeveloped. This is not a Loki, a Killmonger, or a joker. He’s just kind of a run of the mill power hungry asshole with some abilities and a God complex. Strong doesn’t really do anything wrong here, it’s just an underwritten role.
The kid cast are all great, and the balance of keeping Shazam in kid form versus adult form works well. The backstory of him trying to find his mom after all these years, and realizing that she was a waste of time, and not what he remembered adds so much weight into the film. It’s a film that boosts the idea of found families, and foster parents. That heroes can come from anywhere.
I also noticed on the second viewing that Cooper Andrews (jerry from The walking Dead) is in the cast, which made me love it more. The audio description has a lot of action sequences and lightning effects to deal with, coupled with transformations from adult to kid and vice versa. Then, these nightmare monsters based on the seven deadly sins come out, and there’s a lot happening. Still, I think the audio description does a solid job of managing that, while also trying to keep the emotional core of family strong. Shazam may look like an adult, but he’s really a kid. It’s like if Big became a superhero film. Josh would still be a kid.
It’s true that comic book films are my jam. It’s true that I probably see them more favorably as a result. But, I’m also ready to condemn a terrible one when i see it, and this is certainly not that.
Final Grade: A-