Will DC ever get their ultimate comic book movie? One day they might, sadly it won’t be with Black Adam. Dwayne Johnson won’t be the ‘franchise Viagra’ that helped give a new life to the Fast & Furious franchise. This film delivers what we have seen many times, a half-baked dull superhero film.
Lets get one thing straight, Dwayne Johnson is a megastar in film land. Regardless critically how good or bad his films have been, he gets bums on seats in cinemas. That’s what cinemas want so do studios, being a fan of the caped crusader I do want DC to succeed. Very few of their films have done well, usually those are their A-Listers (Superman, Batman). Even they can’t always suceed, the damage has already been done by a stagnated MCU.
Originally Black Adam was to be the villain in Shazam! Fury Of The Gods. Johnson was an executive on the first film, no disrespect to Zachary Levi, Dwayne Johnson is the bigger star. He would overshadow the lead actor, now he has his own origins story film. It’s taken him 15 years to get his passion project to the big screen. If this was any other actor this project would be dead and buried a long time ago.
The film kicks off with setting up the origins story. We find ourselves in 2600 BC in the fictional country of Kahndaq. They were one of the first ever self governing societies in human history. They have one rare prized resource, Eternium that will give anyone great dark powers. Tyrant King Ahk-Ton (Marwan Kenzari) enslaves the population to mine for the rock. The people cry out for a champion to rise above and lead a revolt against their oppressors. A young boy rises.
Fast forward to modern day Kahndaq, the country has seen many invaders oppress the people and pillage its lands. Adriana (Sarah Shahi) has been hiding the crown of Sabbac (Ahk-Ton’s crown made of Eternium) landing in the wrong hands. Also keeping her son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui), alive. Things take a drastic turn when Teth-Adam (Johnson) from his Earthly tomb. He’ll soon unleash his full power on those who get in his way.
Johnson for years before he jumped to Hollywood was known for his charisma in WWE as The Rock. Many of his previous films that persona has shown through be it full on or just a teaser. In Black Adam he’s gives his best audition to play The Terminator in a future film. An all powerful demi god, stone faced and when unleashed from that tomb we get a taster of that power he possess. Johnson at times is merely more than serviceable occasionally getting a chance to shine with a few jokes. It’s the characters that surround them that pull him down.
In the comic book world Adam is a villain, is he in his film version? I won’t spoil that, he does have the Justice Society (Of America) on his back. Wanting to bring peace to Kahndaq, Adrianna questions Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), where were they when Kahndaq cried for help? JSA lead by Hawkman who comes across very unlikeable. He leads the team that includes Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell). Brosnan comes across as the only one with intelligence and solemnity. The other two are like the Kitties from Thundercats. Growing powers, essential part of the team however the Justice Society feel like a Marvel Knock off.
As for Adrianna, the writers have seemed to have forgotten about her backstory. We know no nothing about her. How did she find the crown and why are ‘white western imperialists’ after her? As for Kenzari as Sabbac when he transforms into the ‘champion of hell’, Satan he’s nothing more than a poorly created and generic CGI empty character that feels like a reject from Mortal Kombat.
DC seem to have not learned from their previous attempts to match Marvel on every level. Black Adamis another paint by number generic predictable film. With characters with no chemistry who are more interested in provoking than helping. This is a film that tries to be too serious, forgetting one other pivotal part of comic book films, humour.
If you enjoy just carnage, flat characters nothing more, you’ll enjoy Black Adam. The action is big sadly the narrative makes this one big disappointment.
Adventure, Action, Comic Book | USA, 2022 | 12A | Cinema | 21st October 2022 | Warner Bros | Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra | Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Sarah Shahi, Pierce Brosnan, Marwan Kenzari
Originally posted on The Peoples Movies, 24th October 2022 | Original review link