Warner Bros. Discovery hasn’t been making many friends lately. With the cancellation of multiple projects (some nearly finished), many of which focused on people of color, it’s difficult to get excited for any new WBD film. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, you have Dwayne Johnson, who is one of the most charismatic people in the entertainment industry. Together, these two titans have created Black Adam, the most recent DC Films release.
The trailers for Black Adam weren’t particularly interesting. It seemed like just another DC Films lackluster production. However, upon seeing the film, it’s clear that the creative teams behind Black Adam were trying to make a little magic happen (without Zatanna no less). The film isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s one of the better non-Batman DC Films to release in recent years.
Black Adam focuses on Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson), the slave who eventually becomes the anti-hero Black Adam. Along the way he runs into the Justice Society of America, consisting of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). Unfortunately, some ordinary humans are the main catalysts of the film, primarily Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) and her son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui).
While the humans in the film aren’t quite as bad as the human catalysts in the various Transformers movies, they make for some of the least believable scenarios. You already have to suspend belief for superhero movies, which is half the fun, but then these ordinary humans keep popping up in the worst situations, just to get captured so the heroes can come save them again. It’s a tired troupe in a film that could’ve easily focused on Black Adam vs. the JSA without the pesky humans getting in the way.
The action in Black Adam is nonstop and hyper focused. Some of the camera work leaves a bit to be desired as it can be difficult to make out the action at times, but it’s a minor inconvenience. Dwayne Johnson brings his A-game to the role of Black Adam, expressing multiple degrees of emotion (although mostly anger) with a single glance. The fish out of water plot device isn’t all that appealing, but the charisma of The Rock helps make it a bit more bearable.
While the action was a highlight of the film, the effects team and director used far too much slow motion. Once in a while for an impactful fight scene is fine, but it felt as though every single action sequence had an over abundance of slow motion, and it rarely added anything to the proceedings. Cyclone and Black Adam are supposed to be fast, but there are better ways to depict this. Some variety here would’ve been very appreciated.
Speaking of Cyclone, while Quintessa Swindell was almost as charismatic as The Rock, their character had very little to do in the movie. In fact, Cyclone and Atom Smasher could have been removed from the film entirely and almost nothing would change. Hawkman has a few notable scenes, but overall his dialogue was sorely lacking, especially compared to Black Adam and Doctor Fate, who carried the film from beginning to end in more ways than one.
Black Adam is a fun movie, with strong performances from Dwayne Johnson and Pierce Brosnan. It’s more than a little messy, but these performances help elevate the material to heights that most DC Films never reach. As Johnson’s first run as Black Adam, things could have gone far worse. As it stands, we’re eagerly awaiting the next entry in what will hopefully be the continuing journey of Black Adam and the DC Extended Universe. Now maybe he can meet up with Shazam?
About Black Adam
Synopsis: Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods-and imprisoned just as quickly-Black Adam is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writers: Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan
Runtime: 2 Hours, 4 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.