- Jaume Collet-Serra
- Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Superhero
- 2h 5m
- Release date
- October 21, 2022
- Where to watch
With James Gunn (Guardians of The Galaxy) and Peter Safran (The Suicide Squad) taking over WB’s DC properties, Black Adam will be the fourth from the last DC film set within the Snyderverse, with Shazam: Fury of The Gods, The Flash, and Aquaman 2 rounding it out. So let’s go on a journey together to discover if this is a good thing, or not.
Some of the movie’s visuals are pretty terrific. The color palette is beautiful, with loads of earth tones contrasting with the blues and greens of the costumed heroes and their powers. Also, the second half of Black Adam’s first fight scene is awesome…right up until they try to awkwardly squeeze some Deadpool-esque comedy in and then give us a PG-13 payoff. However, the CGI was on par with that of She-Hulk, often looking like a video game cut screen. So, any cool factor garnered by doing something like melting a truck into nothingness as it is hurled at Black Adam is lost by the jarring graphics.
Speaking of underwhelming, let’s talk dialogue and actions. Jokes that land like German dirigibles, and doing and saying things that we’ve seen dozens of times before, are two pillars of Black Adam. Seriously, the script reads like someone asked chatGPT to write a superhero screenplay similar to all of the other superhero movies released in the last 10 years. Don’t believe me? I did exactly that, and here’s what chatGPT gave me:
- Introduce the protagonist, a normal person with a relatable problem or flaw.
- Establish the ordinary world, including the protagonist’s job, home life, and relationships.
- Introduce the inciting incident, an event that forces the protagonist out of their ordinary world and into action.
- Introduce the mentor figure, a wise and experienced character who helps the protagonist understand their new powers and responsibilities.
- Explore the protagonist’s initial struggle to understand and control their powers.
- Introduce the antagonist, a formidable villain with their own motivations and abilities.
- Show the protagonist using their powers to help others and fight crime, gradually becoming more confident and competent.
- Build tension as the antagonist’s plans come to fruition and threaten the protagonist and those they care about.
- Bring the protagonist and antagonist into direct conflict, with the stakes at their highest.
- Have the protagonist confront their flaw and overcome it, using their powers in a decisive and impressive way.
- Have the protagonist defeat the antagonist and save the day, showing their growth and heroism.
- Conclude with the protagonist returning to their ordinary world, having learned and grown from their journey.
Congratulations, you’ve now seen Black Adam. That’s not exactly fair, as they do try to offer up some interesting differences from other superhero flicks. Black Adam’s motivation in becoming Black Adam is unlike 90% of his peers, and his near-total lack of interest in what he’s doing (including all of the murder) is certainly more villainous than heroic. Unfortunately, this didn’t translate into excitement or anything particularly engaging. It’s hard to be enthused when the viewpoint of the movie is that of a character who doesn’t care.
The Rock acts like Schwarzenegger’s terminator in T2 but without the charm and charisma, which is funny because easy charm is sort of Johnson’s thing. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not distractingly bad but he really doesn’t do anything except go from one meaningless (because he can’t get hurt) CGI battle to another, while wearing the same bored and irritated expression. Unfortunately, his character growth isn’t enough to sustain your interest because his character arc is pretty much non-existent. He goes from not caring about anything or anyone to caring a little bit about a couple of people. It’s really kind of a slog. At one point, thinking that it was nearly over, I looked at the time remaining to discover that I still had over an hour left. James Cameron’s three-hour ego-stroke (aka Avatar: The Way of Water) didn’t feel as long as this two-hour almost non-stop action flick.
The Rock is joined by a forgettable Adrianna Tomez, competently played by Sarah Shahi (Old School), and her obnoxious and cartoonishly optimistic son, barely adequately played by Bodhi Sabongui (A Million Little Things). He’s supposed to be the heart of the movie but it falls flat because the character is either dumb, or Sabongui is playing him 5 years younger than he looks. People simply don’t behave as he does. He’s boyishly hopeful because the movie needs him to be and he spends 2/3’s of the movie trying to convince Black Adam to be his country’s hero by annoying him, and it works…because he vaguely reminds Adam of someone.
People behaving in ways that no one would is pretty much the only thing that happens in this flick. Remember the scene in Superman Returns when the bad guy empties a chain gun on Superman at nearly point-blank range and, when it doesn’t affect him in the slightest, the bad guy comically shoots Supes with a handgun? That’s every bad guy and fight scene in the movie until the last 10 minutes. In one scene Black Adam drops a dozen baddies in the blink of an eye all while another is ineffectively blasting him with machine gun fire. Then, the baddy runs out of ammo at about the same time that Adam finishes cleaning house, and the two have an Old West-style duel, with the bad guy getting zapped before he could even draw his handgun. Rounding out the cast is that of the Justice Society, a self-described keeper of “global stability” who did nothing when Steppenwolf tried to Mother Box the Earth to death in Justice League, nor did they lift a finger when Intergang took over Kahndaq. One would think that an international gang occupying a sovereign nation so that they can mine unobtainium…I mean vibranium…I mean eternium and use it to create Wakanda-level weapons and tech, which might unbalance the globe a bit. But I digress.
The JS (cause it couldn’t possibly be the Justice League of America) is made up of Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher, and Cyclone. Hawkman, played by Aldis Hodge (Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, A Good Day To Die Hard) is a Batman knockoff with vibranium…I mean nth metal technology. His main purpose in the film is to grind the action and discussions to a screeching halt by constantly measuring d!@ks with Black Adam, right up until he admits that he has no chance of defeating Adam…because of reasons. Dr. Fate, played by Pierce Brosnan (Eurovision Song Contest: A Song of Fire Saga, Tomorrow Die Another Day), continues the movie’s tradition of being mostly useless except for offering up a couple of McGuffins. Fortunately, he benefits from Brosnan’s effortless sophistication and the best costume design in the show. The two most useless characters in a movie full of them is Atom Smasher, played by Noah Centineo (Charlie’s Angels), and Cyclone, played by Quintessa Swindell (Trinkets). I can’t understate how useless their characters are. Atom Smasher is a dummy for “comic relief,” and Cyclone is a green fart.
Anyway, a bunch of meaningless gunfire, murdered henchmen, and an hour and a half later, the main antagonist finally shows up. You read that right, it took 3/4 of the movie before the main bad guy really shows up. He’s some generic terrorist/Intergang member who wants an eternium relic so that he can be infused with the power of a bunch of demons and become Hell’s champion. There’s a fight, stuff happens, and the movie ends.
Hawkman was blackwashed, almost certainly because only comic book nerds have ever even heard of the character, and someone at WB said that diversity had to diversify for the sake of diversity. That being said, Hodge does as good a job as anyone could with such a poorly conceived and written character.
Cyclone was blackwashed, almost certainly because only comic book nerds have ever even heard of the character, and someone at WB said that diversity had to diversify for the sake of diversity. That being said, Swindell does as good a job as anyone could with such a poorly conceived and written character.
Atom Smasher was brown-washed, almost certainly because only comic book nerds have ever even heard of the character, and someone at WB said that diversity had to diversify for the sake of diversity. That being said, Centineo does as good a job as anyone could with such a poorly conceived and written character.
At one point the phrase, “…Neo-imperialist enforcer, from halfway around the world, sent here to steal my country’s natural resources, strip-mine our sacred lands, pollute our water, oppress our heritage…” is espoused by a person of color to a caucasian soldier (who is also a cartoon bad guy…big surprise).
The Justice Society of America, from the comics, is only the Justice Society now. It’s still a U.S. team but including America in the name became offensive to a couple of Leftist weiners a few years ago, so now it has to be omitted from the movie.
It is deliciously ironic that a movie that goes so far out of its way to have a diverse cast, casts the lead Middle Eastern character with a Samoan actor.
James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.