We’ve been hearing for the last year or so that the “hierarchy of power is about to change” in the DC Movie Universe. In hindsight, that felt like it had been true for the longest time, as it’s been years since Henry Cavill’s Superman made his last appearance on the big screen. Here to make good on that promise is Dwayne Johnson, who stars as Black Adam—one of the most powerful beings in DC Comics. Jaume Collet-Serra directs the screenplay written by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani. I can’t say it blows its superhero film counterparts out of the water, but there’s some fun to be had in Black Adam thanks to some decent action sequences.
In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods after an unsuspecting hero rises against all odds to take back his city. Unfortunately, Tech Adam struggled using these powers for good and instead used them for vengeance. Because of that, he was imprisoned, thus becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years later, Black Adam gets released, and he’s once again hellbent on using violence to solve all issues. Thankfully, modern-day heroes and members of the Justice Society are here to stop him. Can they work together to stop the true threat of Kahndaq? They’ll have to stop Black Adam from using lethal force in the process.
Decent action sequences
There’s really only one major thing to say about Black Adam. There’s some fun to be had, but it is mediocre at best. The character is being introduced on the big screen for the very first time, after all, and must overcome the growing pains of existing in a superhero-heavy climate. But there are definitely some issues. The first is that there are way too many side characters. Aldis Hodge is Hawkman, Noah Centineo is Atom Smasher, Quintessa Swindell is Cyclone, and Pierce Brosnan is Dr. Fate. Independently, these characters would be fun to learn about—especially with respect to how they joined the JSA. But there’s simply not enough time in this feature.
That’s where the film tends to suffer most. It wants the audience to believe that this version of the JSA can take down Black Adam. But these characters had no chemistry, their teamwork was incredibly shaky during the most important moments, and frankly, there was no magic. Regrettably, it feels like screentime was wasted on them when it could have been put into a better script that concentrated on getting to know Black Adam more. As a result, the film feels like it contains a myriad of missed opportunities while also feeling excruciatingly long.
Black Adam is mediocre at best
Black Adam also suffers from special effects and cinematography issues. When these two elements are on point, the movie is so beautiful and would enable any viewer to immerse themselves within this blockbuster. And yet, these moments are few and far between, as the majority of the film has a dusty look to it, with no standout moments for its titular character. For me, Brosnan’s Dr. Fate and Hodge’s Hawkman scenes were two of the best within the feature. But even then, they were short lived, as the script offers them little backstory to go along with their cool action sequences.
In the end, it’s hard to pinpoint a distinct thing within Black Adam that would get me to recommend the film to even casual viewers. Truth be told, I don’t really see myself watching this again any time soon. It’s not bad by any means of the word, it just isn’t spectacular, nor does it have the ‘magic’ that is almost required out of superhero films these days. For a while, Johnson has been promising us as viewers that the hierarchy of power would change. If that means getting more DC films that look and feel like Black Adam, I strongly urge Warner Bros. Pictures to go back to the drawing board and throw this plan away.
Check out the trailer for Warner Bros. Pictures’ Black Adam, which premiered October 21, 2022: