Black Adam is the latest film from the DC universe to hit our screens, starring Dwayne Johnson as the titular anti-hero. But while it’s great to see Johnson in a big-screen superhero role, I can’t help but feel that this film could have been so much better.
The film opens in 2600 BC, where the tyrannical King Akh-Ton of Kahndaq has enslaved his people to dig for the magic element Eternium, which he hopes to use to build the Crown of Sabbac. A young slave boy stages a revolt and after being sentenced to death, he is given the powers of Shazam by the council of wizards, transforming him into a champion that ends the evil reign of King Akh-Ton. The champion then disappears.
In the present day, Kahndaq is oppressed by a group of mercenaries known as Intergang. Local freedom fighter Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), her brother Karim (Mohammed Amer) and friend Ismael (Marwan Kenzari) are searching for the Crown of Sabbac to prevent it from falling into Intergang’s hands. After locating the crown deep in the mountains, Adrianna is betrayed by Ismael and ambushed by Intergang, and in an attempt to save herself reads an incantation that awakens Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson), Kahndaq’s heroic champion.
As Teth-Adam slaughters the Intergang soldiers, Adrianna and Karim flee with the crown and head home to her son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui). Meanwhile, after seeing the threat that Adam poses, Task Force X Leader Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) sends the Justice Society to apprehend him. Led by Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), The Society includes the magical veteran Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) and newbies Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell). They arrive in Kahndaq and battle Adam, revealing to Adrianna and her family that their champion is not who they believe him to be. However, despite this, they must all work together to prevent the Crown of Sabbac from falling into the wrong hands and bringing about the end of the world.
I knew very little about Black Adam before seeing it, and there are parts of the plot that surprised me, not necessarily in a good way. The whole Justice Society aspect I hadn’t expected and their dynamic with Teth-Adam was very hit-and-miss. The comedic side of this film for the most part felt flat. I could see it trying to be witty and funny but most lines really missed the mark or just didn’t have the right comedic timing. Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate was the only truly interesting character out of the Justice Society, bringing a serious yet heartwarming side to a society where the rest of the characters were childish and very cliched. Teth-Adam himself was likeable despite his potential villainous nature and this is probably due to the fact that Johnson himself is instantly likeable in any role. I did feel however that the entire storyline with Adrianna and Amon, including the fact that the fate of the evil Crown of Sabbac rested on the mother and son, was a little tired and predictable.
I do think that Black Adam suffers a lot due to the CGI. It has some truly spectacular action scenes, but they’re so fast-paced that the quality of the CGI just can’t seem to keep up with it. There’s nothing I hate more than action scenes that appear blurry and make me feel nauseous because they move too quickly. There was at least a decent slow-motion scene, although I don’t think any scene like this will ever beat the Quicksilver scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past. And that’s just the problem with the Justice Society part of this film, everything about them feels like it’s trying too hard to be the X-Men, even with a jet hidden beneath a mansion estate. Sadly, it’s nothing like the X-Men.
I found Black Adam overall to be rather dull and boring, which isn’t good for a superhero film, especially not one that has such a large number of action sequences. There was a lot of promise, both with the script and the action, but poor execution ruined the potential this film had. I just wish it had taken more of a lead from Shazam! as this is probably one of the better DCEU films to date.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!