Friday, October 21, 2022

Black Adam - Review


Comics have this trend of taking bad guys and villains that display even the slightest bit of popularity and making them anti-heroes instead. Sony has capitalized on this to make two Venom films now, with more Spider-Man villain films on the way. And now, after over a decade of development, WB and DC have finally made their version in Black Adam, a film with the lightest story possible and all the overblown action you could imagine. 

In the ancient civilization of Kahndaq, a power-hungry king forces the people into slavery, searching for more resources and and the mystical Crown of Sabbac. That is until Teth Adam is bestowed the powers of the gods, ending the king’s reign through rage and violence. Nearly 5,000 years late, Teth Adam is freed, and his brand of justice, born of vengeance, is enough to garner the attention of the modern day heroes of Earth known as the Justice Society.

The truth is, none of that backstory or origins really matter. Sure, it sets up the reasons for why Black Adam exists, but the story beats themselves are trivial. The reason the movie exists is for one reason only: the Rock wanted to play Black Adam nearly fifteen years ago, Warner Brothers said yes, and then never said no again. And credit where its due, Dwayne Johnson is a lot of fun in this role, playing off type even slightly is refreshing to say the least. And the rest of the cast, specifically the other DC heroes are fun in their roles too, especially Pierce Brosnan and Aldis Hodge as Dr. Fate and Hawkman respectively.

While it’s easy to critique this film for its big CGI fistfights,  the action does succeed more than it fails. The mix of superpowers and the visual distinction between them certainly helps differentiate the action from other superhero fare, even if the dynamics are largely familiar. 

Unfortunately, that’s where the compliments mostly end. The story wants so badly to be about real world issues of imperialism and militarization of international affairs, but it doesn’t come close to committing. In fact, in doesn’t commit to most of the interesting ideas that it posits and ditches them for superficial or cliched conversations on good and evil. It’s unclear which of these elements were altered throughout the filmmaking process, but numerous scenes are clearly inserted or shuffled throughout. If the bad ADR in spots didn’t showcase the shaky production, the editing certainly would. 

It’s not as though Black Adam is all bad either, there’s stuff to enjoy and DC has certainly produced worse in their attempts to adapt their comic heroes to the silver screen, but there are too many issues to get fully invested. The Justice Society has visually interesting heroes and good actors attached, but there is nothing to connect with in terms of the writing for them. And Black Adam as a character lacks the depth to hold up a whole film with him at the center. In the end, the whole film feels like another hollow attempt to try and imitate a much more successful endeavor from their creative rivals at Marvel.

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