Black Adam strikes out.
What is it that makes someone be an hero? This is the question asked in Black Adam, DC’s origin story of a violent anti-hero who isn’t able to answer it in the midst of a long string of action scenes that never stop.
Dwayne “The The Rock” Johnson stars as a powerful character from the past who is able to explode into the modern day with a negative attitude and plenty of flashy lightning effects however, he’s not the only thing that comes from the past. The entire movie is as if it was made couple of decades ago, prior to the glorious era of superhero films and doesn’t have knowledge Hollywood has gleaned from such films as The Dark Knight and Iron Man. The movie is dull due to excessive explanation, the antagonist is uninteresting and there’s a heavy reliance on the spectacle, rather than the character or story. There are moments of excellence here and there mostly due to the actors from the Justice Society, but overall Black Adam is a flop.Black Adam: Who’s Who in the Cast
It certainly began with plenty of potential. It’s the JSA comic book series featuring Black Adam is one of DC’s greatest comics since it revealed the brutality of his sense of justice caused even the most exemplary heroes reconsider the boundaries between the moral and ethical. Although the film doesn’t directly modify the comics, it attempts to take on the themes that made them so great. Therefore, the subject of superhero morality is at the main focus of the story and there’s plenty of discussion about heroes and villains both good and evil as well as mercy over killing However, the discussion turns into a confusing mess of clichés. In the end it’s difficult to determine who is right or wrong on the issue and the reasons.
Johnson portrays Black Adam in the same way like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 The stoic and unfeeling killing machine is able to show an ounce of humanity or even an ounce humor. While he receives top marks for creating the character of Black Adam just as steely and intimidating as Comics characters, the actor seems somewhat excessivelyconfident and impressive. He comes across as one-note , when there are many layers that are begging to be explored.Johnson gets high marks for creating Black Adam just as steely and powerful as the comics
The main figure opposing his violent ways is Justice Society member Hawkman, played by Aldis Hodge. While the veteran hero is a sight to behold with his gleaming wings and energized mace, his character feels criminally underdeveloped. Hawkman has one of the most notoriously complicated backstories in all of comics, so it’s understandable why the writers wouldn’t delve too deeply into alien reincarnation lore in another character’s movie, but, at the very least, he could have benefited from there being a foundation for his strong beliefs on delivering justice with compassion.
In reality, Hawkman mainly serves as an attack weapon literally and physically. Hawkman spends the large portion of his screen time being kicked by his bird while most of his time, he’s trying to convince Black Adam to act more than an average “hero.” In the course, this creates an untruthful Hawkman because of the morally corrupt mastermind he selects to associate himself with as well as he’s unable to provide a solution for the people of a nation that is in a state of war when they ask the reason his group of supposed heroes did not come to help them.Hawkman has a lot of his time on screen having his bird’s butt kicked.
On top of that, it’s hard to take Black Adam and Hawkman’s debate about whether it’s okay for heroes to kill evil-doers seriously when the film often makes jokes out of the outlandishly brutal way Black Adam murders them, not to mention the DCEU is a place where we’ve already seen premiere heroes Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman take lives.
The other members in the Justice Society have their ups and downs. Pierce Brosnan delivers a charming and strange role on screen as Doctor Fate, although the script is trying to overplay his character and doesn’t make enough of the two hours on screen to show it. To combat Black Adam the team recruits Atom Smasher and Cyclone as well as Noah Centineo and Quintessa Swindell are instantly a match as young heroes in the making, but they aren’t able to have an obvious influence on the story. This is a pity, particularly for Centineo because his Atom Smasher is the charming and engaging hero of all. The rest of the cast spend they’re explaining their MacGuffin or the backstory behind their character.Black Adam feels both overstuffed and undeveloped.
With a bit too much going on, Black Adam feels both overstuffed and underdeveloped. It bites off more than it can chew when it comes to squeezing the origin of its main character, four members of the Justice Society, a trio of relatable human characters, and a villain for them to fight all in one movie. Most of these elements feel shortchanged, and it’s hard not to feel as though that’s because so much emphasis was put on the relentless barrage of action scenes.
I’m not saying that There’s nothing wrong with the action of a superhero film filled with action, particularly one with a Superman-like protagonist. But when it’s the exact same type of action repeatedly that sees Black Adam perform an endless sequence of PG-13 Mortal Kombat Fatalities against anonymous villains, it becomes tedious. After the fourth or so scenes of him taking down hundreds of villains who were not in danger I began to wonder what was the reason a certain “Black Adam Kryptonite” weapon was introduced in the very first scene but no criminals thought of using to attack him later. This would’ve made it slightly more exciting to see him confront an opponent he could not break in half, at the very least.The DC Movies in (Chronological) Order
There are a lot of action scenes that feature members of the Justice Society, too. Cyclone’s stunning twisters are an absolute delight to watch, and they bring an unexpected colour to the visuals of the film. On the other hand Doctor Fate’s powers are a bit like the ones we witnessed the Marvel’s Doctor Strange do in Avengers: Infinity War and, therefore, it’s a pity they didn’t offer Fate an entirely distinct visual identity.
It should also be mentioned how bizarre it is for the Black Adam movie to completely overlook its character’s inextricably tied in a way to Zachary Levi’s Shazam to the point that Shazam and Black Adam have the similar powers, the same word for transformation and lightning bolt logo. They instead use a number of reference in reference to Superman as a rival. Given that there’s a sequel Shazam film in development as Superman is largely MIA after 2017’s Justice League, that’s a quite a decision.
Black Adam overindulges to the level that it’s difficult to be a fan of the DC anti-hero’s first. The film is crammed with poorly developed characters and a plethora of action scenes that are repetitive, to the point that the half-baked discussion of what is the definition of an hero gets lost in all the chaos. Although it’s a good attempt to find lightning in the bottle, Black Adam never manages to locate its spark.
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