From New Line Cinema, Dwayne Johnson stars in the action adventure “Black Adam.” The first-ever feature film to explore the story of the DC Super Hero comes to the big screen under the direction of Jaume Collet-Serra (“Jungle Cruise”).
In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed and Black Adam has gone from man, to myth, to legend. Now released, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.
What We Thought:
Do you like the DCEU movies? You know, Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Aquaman, Justice League? Well you’ll like Black Adam. It looks exactly like those films and follows the third act CGI-fest formula they all use.
My favorite film of the DCEU is Shazam. It’s light, funny and overall enjoyable. Since the Black Adam character is connected to Shazam in the comics I was hoping Black Adam would be similar. I was hoping for light and funny especially because Dwayne Johnson is the king of charisma and has an incredible personality. The other films in the DCEU are dark, gritty and use a ton of slow motion. Unfortunately for me, Black Adam is closer to those films than Shazam.
If you aren’t familiar with the character from the comic books the movie gives plenty of backstory. You’ll understand the film version of the character with ease and they do a good job overall making him the anti-hero he has been in the comics. Despite The Rock looking like a real life superhero, the character looks fake throughout most of the film. Like every other film in the DCEU, this one is loaded down with CGI. They took away Johnson’s physical prowess by having him floating and flying constantly. Yes that is the character’s abilities, but it just doesn’t look good. All the action sequences rely heavily on CGI and like previously stated, the third act is one giant CGI action sequence with Black Adam fighting the bad guy with members of the Justice Society along for the ride. There’s lightning bolts and explosions and destruction and you can barely tell who is doing what just like in Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, Aquaman, etc.
Another issue is the dialogue. The character is thousands of years old and is released in today’s world. His dialogue isn’t great because he doesn’t understand his new environment. They took one of the most naturally funny people in the business and gave him a character that feels wooden and cold. Black Adam gets a redemptive arc, but the character lacks personality despite The Rock playing him.
The only character who really gets any type of personality is Doctor Fate played by Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan completely steals the film and I’d love to see a Doctor Fate film now. I usually like Aldis Hodge, but his Hawkman is pretty one dimensional. Cyclone and Atom Smasher are the other two Justice Society members, but ultimately those characters could have been any other DC properties.
Black Adam will make money at the box office. Dwayne Johnson is highly bankable and movie theaters have needed a tent-pole movie for weeks now so it will do well. I don’t know if it will do a billion worldwide though because it’s not Superman or Batman. Critics will kill it, but the audience I saw it with seemed to enjoy it. They cheered and had fun like they always do. I wanted it to be funnier and to let Johnson carry the movie, but ultimately he’s held back and it feels and looks like every other DCEU film with its tone, color scheme and reliance on Zack Snyder styled slow motion. Oh well.
Dwayne Johnson stars alongside Aldis Hodge (“City on a Hill,” “One Night in Miami”) as Hawkman, Noah Centineo (“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”) as Atom Smasher, Sarah Shahi (“Sex/Life,” “Rush Hour 3”), Marwan Kenzari (“Murder on the Orient Express,” “The Mummy”), Quintessa Swindell (“Voyagers,” “Trinkets”) as Cyclone, Mo Amer (“Mo,” “Ramy”), Bodhi Sabongui (“A Million Little Things”), and Pierce Brosnan (the “Mamma Mia!” and James Bond franchises) as Dr. Fate.