If you know nothing about the DC character Black Adam, you at least know one thing; Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been hard at work for a while trying to bring this character to the big screen. As Deadpool is to Ryan Reynolds, Black Adam is to The Rock. From studio execs first not wanting to attach Dwayne’s growing stardom to villainous character to the then impending issues due to Covid; the development road for Black Adam was a long one. Have the years of development led to a success story? Is this the film to universally turn around the DCEU ship?
Long, long ago, the inhabitants of the ancient city of Kahndaq were enslaved by an evil king who tasked his slaves to mine for a precious material. With his material he would craft a crown powered by evil forced to allow him to rule the world. However, the council of wizards that gave Shazaam his powers, also bestowed these powers to a young man who would stop the king from reaching his goals. After his goal was complete, this hero disappeared for 5,000 years. Finally woken by a new civilization who needed his help, the JSA (Justice Society of America) is fast to try and stop this powerful being as he has no concern for human life, whether good or bad.
Plain and simple, Black Adam has some of the sloppiest, lazy writing of any major Hollywood film in some time. It’s a convoluted mess of contradictory plot lines that often open doors that lead nowhere. The main story opens with guards at a checkpoint looking to arrest a woman who is marked as an enemy of the state. Two minutes later, it is clear that the main villain is actually hoping this woman goes and finds what she is looking for, so he can steal it after she does all the work. This villain is the same one who runs the organization setting up these checkpoints. If you want her to find this thing (the crown from the synopsis), why set up checkpoints to stop her?
The hunt for this mystical crown is what drives this story. The crown was built from this precious mineral that was so hard to find/mine 5,000 years prior. Yet, this same mineral is what powers all of the villains’ weapons and futuristic vehicles. They clearly have a stockpile of this stuff in abundance now. Why go on this year’s long journey to find this crown when you can build a new one with your warehouse full of precious gems? Let’s also not forget that they specifically show you that this material can harm Black Adam. Then that fact leads nowhere and doesn’t get mentioned again apart from a force field that exists for 2 seconds.
When I was 13, I had a school project in where I needed to make up a fictional society and explain their day to day life. I made up village that lived at the base of a mountain that had no jobs and they just drank beer and climbed the mountain all day. That 13 year old mentality is about as sophisticated as any of the ideas that went into the logic of every character in this film.
“But movie fans aren’t looking for a solid story,” you’re yelling as you read this. People just want to see The Rock beat people up while things explode behind him. Oh, and he should fight some super heroes. Yeah, that stuff happens. But it isn’t exciting and it also is nonsensical. The JSA team lead by Hawkman and Doctor Fate (Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan) tell their young teammates that they are there to keep the peace. They want to calmly talk Black Adam down and take him with them, and will only resort to violence if they need to. Cut to them facing Black Adam for the first time and the first words out of Hawkman’s mouth are, “Come with us or die.”
For all the work that went into this film, the only positive things you can say are that Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan delivered decent performances. Everyone else, including The Rock are either wooden or forgettable. Tons of jokes and action sequences fall flat and the attempt to create a Terminator 2 style John Connor/Terminator relationship between Black Adam and the son of the human protagonist feels forced. There are only two or three moments that come at the very end of the film that will elicit any type of response from an audience. And even though these are the powers of the comic characters themselves, many of them feel too close to what already succeeded in the MCU.
Black Adam feels like a relic. It comes off as a 2000 era superhero flick, redone with some fancier effects in hopes to cover up all its gaping holes. Sure, there are fancy shots with filmed at 960 frames a second with a Phantom camera. But it’s nothing noticeable and ground breaking to make new movements in film making a thing. It will make money at the box office and get another installment, sure. But it doesn’t deserve it.
Final Grade: C-
Here’s the trailer of the film.