Sunday, January 1, 2023

Review: Black Adam

My therapist has been telling me that I should go back to writing my blog. So, let’s talk about Black Adam.

Back Adam is a comic book supervillain and sometimes antihero created in 1945 by Otto Binder and C. C. Beck for Fawcett Comics as an antagonist for Captain Marvel. When DC Comics acquired Captain Marvel in 1972 Black Adam came along as well, but it wasn’t until the early 21st Century that the character become a prominent player in the DC continuity, becoming both a reluctant hero associated with the Justice Society of America or a world spanning threat, depending on what the story needed. These days he is considered one of DC’s big villains on a similar level to the likes of Lex Luthor and the Joker.

Meanwhile in the real world, legend has it that Warner Bros. were able to get increasingly popular Dwayne Johnson to agree to star in a DC superhero movie. Apparently, they pitched Captain Marvel to him but Johnson instead requested Black Adam. It took many years before things came together for a movie to begin production properly and even then it ended up being heavily tied to the DC Expanded Universe line of movies, specifically to the 2019 film Shazam! Then it got delayed some more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But finally, after years of it lingering in the depth of Warner Bros.’ backlots, Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnson has finally hit theaters. But after such a long gestation period, not to mention the enormous baggage from the so-called DC Expanded Universe, did this flick turn out to be any good?

Full review after the jump.

Yeah, it’s alright.

DC gave him a hood in the 2010s up

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Writers: Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani

I hadn’t been to a movie in a theater in a bit at the time, so when I decided to try out the new AMC that opened down the street I wanted one that would be a light breezy popcorn flick that didn’t require my brain to be fully turned on. And brother, Black Adam was exactly that.

Black Adam is a big, dumb action film that is 100% spectacle over substance. Does it have a plot? Yes, but it’s paper thin. Does it have characters? Sure, but they aren’t very developed? Does it have The Rock blowing up tons of bad guys with magic lightning? Fuck yeah, it does! Is it enjoyable? Uh…I guess?

Th problem with a reviewing a film like this is that even though it’s clearly a “meh” movie, all the reason that make it so won’t matter to the folks who like this sort of thing. I can say that it’s reminiscent of early to mid 2000s superhero films, so you can take that how you want.

Is it weird they didn't mention his Egypt connection?

For me, the best part of this film is the inclusion of the Justice Society, led by ancient Egyptian reincarnated into a conservative asshole Hawkman (that might just be in the comics) played by the underrated Aldis Hodge and his partner “Um, Actually, He’s Older Than Doctor Strange” Doctor Fate played by Piece Bronsnon, and rounded out by Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher and Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone (a character from the comic that I have a lot of affection for, by the way). The film lacks a humanizing element to it, so the JSA do pretty much all the heavy lifting when it comes to making anything resembling relatable human drama here, even though they are relatively minor characters in the film’s plot. But there are very charming, and the clash of personalities was enjoyable enough. Throughout the film kept wishing I got to see more of them but even though they all do great work they have little to work with. Take out Black Adam entirely and add a few more JSA mainstays (Mister Terrific and Star Girl get my vote) and I think we might end up with an interesting superhero movie.

Speaking of not doing much, we have Sarah Shahi here playing Adrianna Tomaz, the woman who awakens Black Adam in modern time. Shahi is one of my favorite TV actors and it’s great to see here on the big screen, but her character is not particularly interesting. In the comic, Adrianna becomes Isis, the modern interpretation of the character of the same name from the 1970s TV show The Secrets of Isis, so if a sequel gets made, I’m hoping Shahi can get more of a chance to shine because of that. In this film, it feels like a waste a talented actor.

Better luck in Black Adam 2

For his part Dwayne Johnson does a fine enough job. He has always had a movie star/action hero charisma that makes him enjoyable in basically everything he does and it’s no different here. My biggest problem with Johnson’s version of Black Adam is that, well, he feels a little toothless compered to his comic counterpart. While Adam in the movie doesn’t shy away from killing, that’s about the main thing he has in common with Black Adam of the 2-D page. In the comic, Adam may not be a megalomaniacal, world conquering psychopath like a lot of the other villains are but he is an arrogant, heartless, piece of shit that protect the ones who loves and cherishes but could not give a damn about anything else. I don’t want to spoil too much of this movie but let’s just say that comic book Black Adam and movie Black Adam have different opinions of what one does when offered a throne.

This is by design; Black Adam is not really that great of a lead character precisely because how villainous he is. He’s not a “ends justify the means” modern antihero, he’s a “I’m a villain who happens to be the protagonist” antihero (ala Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights) and the movie DOES NOT embrace that aspect. If they had I think it would have been a more interesting film. I mean for Pete’s sake, Warner Bros. greenlit a fucking Joker movie that was just a psychopath in clown makeup murdering people so you’d think they could produce a movie where Black Adam is a little more villainous.

Aside from a pretty shallow and familiar plot and a cast of mostly flat characters, the film suffers from a common trope in superhero flicks; the final battle with a CG monster that the audience can’t possibly relate to. It’s not a deal breaker or anything but I know this is a common criticism of a lot of films, especially DCEU, so I thought I’d mention it.

I don’t mean to sound overly harsh on this flick; it’s an entertaining enough movie. It’s not a cerebral movie, and the big twist of the film is spoiled in the trailer, but it’s still a fun way to waste few hours. If you are someone who likes action movies, and don’t really need to be challenged to do so, Black Adam is probably for you. If you want something with substance, look elsewhere. 

Can't wait for the sequel to this-AND IT'S CANCELED

I give Black Adam 3 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.




-Fun, action-oriented movie.

-What we see of the JSA is awesome.

-The Rock as Black Adam works well enough.


-Weak plot.

-Weak characters.

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