Black Adam (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods-and imprisoned just as quickly-Black Adam (Johnson) is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.

My Take – Despite starting out as the primary nemesis to the similarly powered Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel), over the years, Black Adam has slowly transformed himself into something of an anti-hero, who even with his morally ambivalent character traits at times chooses to ally himself with some of DC Comics’ heroes line-up like Superman, Batman etc. for the greater good. With growing popularity, the ancient super-being finally got his epic moment of fame when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, arguably one of the biggest movie stars in the world, was announced to be playing the character in a solo feature.

Though been in the works for fifteen years, the film’s arrival hyped itself to change the hierarchy of power in the DCEU, a factor doubled down by the fact that it had a well proven director in Jaume Collet-Serra (Jungle Cruise, The Commuter) at the helm of the affair. And while the film definitely does not deliver on all the pre-release fanfare, it sure works as a simple face-melting big-screen spectacular entertainer if you’re able to see past some of its obvious faults.

Similar to many of the previous DCEU entries, the introduction of Black Adam is as flawed as it can get, and follows a series of rather thin, standard narrative beats without offering us any chance to get to know the many characters it introduces.

Yet, the film works, mainly as a throwback to simpler times when the dazzling visuals and cool style were considered as important to the overall presentation. Keeping that in mind the spectacle deliciously speeds rapidly from CG-heavy action scene to CG-heavy action scene without barely catching its breath.

Yes, Dwayne Johnson makes for a somewhat stoic antihero, but luckily for him he is backed by a charming bunch of supporting cast members, especially the members of the newly introduced Justice Society to supply an exciting comic book film.

Beginning in 2600 BC, the story follows Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson), a slave who lives in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Kahndaq under the tyrannical rule of King Anh-Kot, who has everyone digging in the search for the Eternium stone, from which he can fashion the Crown of Sabbac, known to give the wearer great power.

But when the Seven Wizards select him as the champion and gift him with nearly invincible massive powers, powers that can be activated by saying the word “Shazam”, Teth-Adam ends up attacking the king, ending his reign brutally, while seeking revenge for the death of his son. An act that results in his imprisonment by the wizards who realize he may not be worthy of their power after all.

Only to find himself awakening 5000 years later, when Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), a university professor and resistance fighter in modern-day Kahndaq, end up reciting the inscription on his tomb while she is attacked by a group of mercenaries who are after the Crown of Sabbac.

However, Adam is too volatile and powerful to be left free, according to Task Force X leader Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who instead dispatches the Justice Society, which consists of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) to capture him, even as Adrianna and her son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) desperately try to convince Adam that he can once again be the hero that Kahndaq has long waited for.

Story wise, the latest outing in the DC Extended Universe doesn’t have much to offer in that sense. Though the bulk of the film is set in present-day Kahndaq and follows Teth-Adam as he confusedly tries to understand what became of his nation after he vanished one day in the past, it also repeatedly flashes back to his life as an ordinary man in order to make you understand what it is that drives him to be the way he is. The problem is the choice by director Jaume Collet-Serra, screenwriters Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani, to clutter the film with so much rhythm-less plot. With a bit too much going on, the film 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, and a trio of relatable human characters, and a villain for them to fight all in one film. Plus the third-act entry of a woefully under cooked big bad, the film does feel like a hodgepodge of spare parts from other films rather than the game-changer Johnson has hyped.

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. Yes, there are some flashes of brilliance here and there, largely thanks to the members of the Justice Society, but most of these elements feel shortchanged as there’s an over-reliance on spectacle over character and story.

Something which also goes in favor of the film. Here, the flawless action sequences and visuals are a saving grace, from the opening sequence in ancient Kahndaq to the heaps of action scenes featuring the Justice Society to witnessing Adam vaporize, maim, and explode men one by one via lightning bolt, super speed, super strength, or sometimes all three at once, is a delight to watch. Here, director Jaume Collet-Serra delights in dealing out death and destruction, a guilty pleasure that isn’t even the slightest bit guilty.

Performance wise, Dwayne Johnson plays Black Adam in the same vein as Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2. A stoic, seemingly soulless killing machine gains a glimmer of humanity and even a sense of humor. While he gets top marks for making his Black Adam just as steely and imposing as in the comics, the character feels a bit too confident and powerful. This makes him come across as one-note when there are clearly more layers begging to be explored.

Thankfully, Pierce Brosnan brings much-needed gravitas to the spectacle and is a delight to watch as Doctor Fate. Here, Brosnan delivers a charming and mysterious performance, and brings a dignified elegance to the magician he’s playing.

Aldis Hodge is charismatic, while Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo bring a friendly, easy presence to the plot. In supporting roles, Sarah Shahi, Mohammed Amer and Bodhi Sabongui are effective, while Marwan Kenzari, Viola Davis, Henry Winkler, Djimon Hounsou, Uli Latukefu, Jennifer Holland and James Cusati-Moyer appear in small roles. On the whole, ‘Black Adam’ is a decently enjoyable superhero flick especially for its jaw-dropping visuals and action sequences.

Directed –

Starring – Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Shahi, Pierce Brosnan

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 124 minutes

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