Spoiler-free review of Black Adam. Theatrical release on October 21.
What does it mean to be a hero? That’s the question posed by Black Adam, DC’s origin story about a super-violent antihero, but one that struggles to find the answer amid a grueling succession of action scenes.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays a powerful character from ancient times who bursts into the present with a bad attitude and loads of light effects, but sadly he’s not the only thing coming from the distant past. The whole movie looks like it was made a few decades ago., before the golden age of superhero movies, and carries none of the wisdom Hollywood has learned from the likes of The Dark Knight and Iron Man. there is too much reliance on the show over the characters and the story. There are a few glimmers of brilliance here and there, largely thanks to the members of the Justice Society, but overall, Black Adam ends up fading away.
Without a doubt, it starts with a lot of potential. The Justice Society of America comic book series starring Black Adam is one of DC’s best of all time, showing how his brutal sense of justice caused even the most honored of heroes to rethink the line between what is right and what is wrong. While this movie doesn’t directly adapt those comics, it does try to embrace the themes that made them great. A) Yes, the theme of the morality of superheroes is the axis of the story, and there’s a lot of talk about heroes and villains, good and evil, and killing versus mercy, but the debate turns into a confused hodgepodge of platitudes. In the end, it is difficult to know who is taking a stand on the issue and why.
Johnson plays Black Adam in the same vein as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: a stoic and seemingly heartless killing machine who takes on a shred of humanity and even a sense of humor. While it’s true that he is given full marks for making his Black Adam as tough and imposing as he is in the comics, the character comes across as overly confident and powerful. This makes her look like a unique character when there are more layers begging to be explored.
Johnson gets full marks for making his Black Adam as tough and imposing as he is in the comics.
The main figure opposing his violent ways is Justice Society member Hawkman, played by Aldis Hodge. Though the veteran hero is a sight to behold with his gleaming wings and energized mace of his, his character seems criminally underdeveloped. Hawkman has one of the most convoluted backstories in all of comics, so it’s understandable that the writers didn’t delve too deeply into the reincarnation of aliens in another character’s movie, but at least he could have benefited from some grounding. for his firm convictions to impart justice with compassion.
Instead, Hawkman serves primarily as a punching bag, both physically and metaphorically. He spends most of his screen time taking hits, and the rest of the time he’s trying to persuade Black Adam to act like a typical “hero.” Of course, this unintentionally makes Hawkman a hypocriteby virtue of some morally bankrupt mastermind he decides to ally himself with, plus he doesn’t have a good answer for the people of a devastated country when they wonder why his team of so-called heroes never came to save them.
Hawkman spends most of his screen time taking hits.
Besides that, it’s hard to take the debate seriously of Black Adam and Hawkman on whether it’s okay for heroes to kill evildoers when the movie often makes jokes about the outrageously brutal way Black Adam murders them, not to mention that the DCEU is a place we’ve already seen heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman take lives.
The rest of the Justice Society has its ups and downs.. Pierce Brosnan gives a charming and mysterious performance as Doctor Fate, though the script tries to do too much with his character without spending enough of its two-hour screen time on him to win him over. To help take on Black Adam, the team enlists Atom Smasher and Cyclone, and Noah Centineo and Quintessa Swindell have instant chemistry as two budding young heroes, but they don’t have a noticeable effect on the plot. It’s a shame, especially for Centineo, since his Atom Smasher is the most serious and entertaining hero of the group. Everyone else spends most of their time explaining the MacGuffin or his backstory.
Black Adam feels both overwhelmed and underdeveloped.
With too many things Black Adam feels both overwhelmed and underdeveloped. It is a film that is not enough to tell the origin of the main character, four members of the Justice Society, a trio of human characters and a villain to fight against, all in a single film. Most of these elements fall short, and it’s hard not to feel that’s because so much emphasis has been placed on the relentless barrage of action scenes.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with a superhero movie being action-driven, especially if it’s about a Superman-level character. But when the same type of action is repeated, in which we see Black Adam perform an endless series of Mortal Kombat Fatalities (in a movie that is not intended for adults) against nameless thugs, he loses the charm. After the fourth scene where he mows down dozens of bad guys who don’t stand a chance, I started to wonder why some kind of “Black Adam kryptonite” was introduced in the first act, but none of the bad guys thought to use it against him. later. He would have made things a little more interesting if he had faced an enemy that he couldn’t cut in half, at least.
There are also plenty of action scenes starring the Justice Society. Cyclone’s beautiful turns are a unique pleasure to watch and add a bit of color to the film’s visual palette. On the other hand, Doctor Fate’s abilities are too similar to what we saw Marvel’s Doctor Strange do in Avengers: Infinity War, so it’s a shame Fate wasn’t given a more defined visual identity.
Also, it has to be said how incredibly strange it is that this Black Adam movie completely ignore the fact that the character is intrinsically tied to Zachary Levi’s Shazam (to the point that they both share the same powers, the transformation word and the lightning logo) and instead make several references to Superman as a rival. Considering a second Shazam movie is in the works while Superman is pretty much gone after 2017’s Justice League, it’s a debatable decision.
Black Adam overdoes it to the point where it’s hard to enjoy the DC anti-hero’s debut. It is full of underdeveloped characters and an excessive number of repetitive action scenes., to the point where their half-hearted debate about what it means to be a hero gets lost in all the noise. As much as he tries to capture lightning in a bottle, Black Adam never manages to find the spark from it.