Black Adam

#Review: Black Adam

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Black Adam is the latest film to release from Warner Bros. It stars Dwayne Johnson as the titular figure and it follows this new figure who is introduced into the DCEU.

Opening in ancient Khandaq, Black Adam tells the story of a slave becoming a god to save his people and his country from a tyrant. Fast forward to the present day and sadly not much has changed. A new kind of despot has invaded Khandaq in the shape of Intergang who are looking for an ancient relic that will give them incredible power.

When resistance fighter Adrianna (Sarah Shahi) finds this relic she and her friends come under fire and in desperation she calls out for the ancient champion of Khandaq. She calls out Shazam! However, who appears is someone very different to the mightiest mortal seen in the Shazam film. She has summoned Teth Adam and after saving her he brutally deals with the assailants. He leaves a noticeable mark on the country and gets the unwanted attention of the Justice Society. Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) descend upon Khandaq to bring in what they consider a rogue metahuman not fully understanding how dangerous he is.

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Black Adam is a sadly mediocre film. The major issue I found with the film is that this isn’t really the infamous Black Adam character from DC comics. This character is essentially Dwayne Johnson with superpowers. What I hoped this film would give us is a complex and morally ambiguous character. Instead what we got was a character who is phenomenally dim and disturbingly violent. This isn’t the character from the comics. In the comics, Teth Adam is calculating, smart and deals out his form of justice because it gets to the root of a problem far more efficiently. Teth Adam in this is essentially the Terminator. He even has a child sidekick who is constantly trying to give him a catchphrase because heroes need catchphrases apparently.

Johnson has none of his usual charm, instead, he dishes out lines that fit well into a trailer. It’s fascinating because I believe the character of Dwayne Johnson is clashing with the character of Black Adam. The film wants you to believe he is a bad guy but every time it begins to bring up that idea it smashes it into the ground to remind you how powerful and how cool he is. If the director and writer genuinely wanted to tell the story of this character they would dissect what is the right way to deal with evil. They would openly question what is too far for a supposed saviour to go. The film doesn’t do that so it ends up feeling quite hollow.

On a positive note, the film has a wonderful score by Lorne Balfe. It’s quite powerful and moving at times. It enhances the many fight scenes which are quite enjoyable to watch. Also, the backstory of Teth Adam is quite moving. With stronger characters behind it, I think the film would have been even better.

The supporting cast is quite enjoyable if not well-developed. Pierce Brosnan’s Kent Nelson aka Doctor Fate is a wise and amicable soul. It’s fun watching him fly around. Aldis Hodges’ Hawkman is fine if somewhat one note. He doesn’t care for Teth Adam’s methods and they come to blows several times. Quintessa and Noah are charming as the young guns of the group. Visually Quintessa’s character Cyclone is beautiful. How she utilises her powers in and out of battle is engaging. Atom Smasher is a bit of a goof but that’s needed in between all the brutal fight scenes.

Ultimately Black Adam is going to appease a certain demographic. After about five minutes of Teth Adam on screen, you’ll know if this film is for you because the tone of the film doesn’t really change. This is a real shame because there was an opportunity here to tell a complex and nuanced story of good, evil and everything in between.

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