Movie Review: Black Adam (2022)

Released in 2022, Black Adam is a superhero movie based on the DC Comics character of the same name, and part of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). In the modern day, in the Middle East nation of Kahndaq, Teth-Adam / Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) is released from his ancient prison by a group known as the Intergang, and is taken in by teenager Amon Tomaz (Bodhi Sabongui) and his mother, Adrianna (Sarah Shahi). When US Government official and superpowered persons liaison, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) deems Adam a threat, she enlists the aid of the Justice Society to bring him in: Kent Nelson / Dr Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Carter Hall / Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Maxine Hunkel / Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), Al Rothstein / Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo).

[Please note: Since this movie was released, and since I watched it, things have changed at DC and it doesn’t look like anything that happened in this movie will have any bearing on things going forward. Therefore, I do make reference to the post-credit scene of this movie and spoil that reveal.]

+ Johnson is fantastic casting for Adam’s look, and the below screenshot of him sitting on the throne is basically all you could ask for from a comic-to-live action translation. He’s got muscles on muscles, and the man has infamous eyebrows to work with, much like his comic version.
+ Pierce Brosnan’s casting as Dr Fate was one of those that I was excited about since its announcement, and he did not disappoint. I felt he added an air of credibility to this ‘superhero movie’ much like Anthony Hopkins did as Odin in the Thor series. In fact, all of the Justice Society members were lots of fun, with Hodge again proving he is a good actor, and I enjoyed Centineo and Swindell’s chemistry in their scenes togethers
+ the action is cheesy and has lots of slow-motion, CGI-heavy stuff, but overall it’s what you would expect from a movie like this. I didn’t mind it, and who doesn’t enjoy some destruction to the tunes of “Paint it Black”. Dr Fate in particular gets some cool moments that I think were clearly modelled after Dr Strange’s various abilities in the MCU

– first things first; there is no Black Adam without Shazam. Stop doing comic villain movies with no connection to the heroes, especially when the next movie slated for release in the DCEU is the Shazam sequel. Bringing in Henry Cavill for a tease as Superman, only to renege his involvement in the entire company a few days later was incredibly poor timing, as the idea of Superman and Shazam teaming to face Black Adam in these incarnations was without a doubt a licence to print money
– as a character actor, Johnson is falling into the same pitfall that someone like Will Smith seems to often find himself in. The comics version of Black Adam has no doubt evolved over the years, but I would argue he is primarily a villain, so the idea of Adam being a family man anti-hero — if not outright hero — in this film just stands at odds with what the character should be. That is, a twisted antithesis of the heroic Shazam (let’s go even deeper and say that Black Adam is a grown man who acts out like a child; Shazam is a literal child who needs to act more grown up than the actual adults)
– the tone of the movie itself just feels uneven, with high velocity action sequences where Adam straight up murders goons in the dozens is treated as the hero, then there is an immediately shift to just how important family is, then a big CGI heavy superhero brawl, then some flashbacks etc. It’s exhausting to keep track of mentally, and never really finds its place in one area or another

Should you see this film: Truthfully, this was not a horrible movie to watch, but it always just felt like someone ticking off boxes as to what a superhero movie should be, despite the fact Black Adam is not a superhero. It’s proof that no matter the name value of your star, the budget you have, or your marketing, if you stray from the source material you will always fail.

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