Black Adam movie review: Dwayne Johnson | MarkMeets

Black Adam movie review | Johnson has spent much of Black Adam’s press tour promising that the “hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

The fact that action-movie juggernaut Dwayne Johnson is making his cinematic superhero debut as Black Adam – a role he’s coveted for years – has certainly whetted the appetite for this latest offering.

Black Adam” is one of the most visually confounding of the major-studio superhero sagas, between CG that’s assaultively unappealing.

Black Adam Review: Not Even Dwayne Johnson Can Save DC

It’s fair to say there’s a lot riding on it, what with Warner Bros controversially canning the already completed Batgirl film earlier this year and dark clouds hovering over the production of the solo Flash film – due for release in 2023 – that will see Ezra Miller’s scarlet speedster encounter Michael Keaton’s version of Batman while hurtling through DC’s version of the Multiverse.

The original holder of the power of the wizard Shazam (bestowed upon young Billy Batson in the 2019 hit film of the same name), Teth-Adam lived some 5,000 years ago in the Middle Eastern nation of Kahndaq until a catastrophic confrontation with a tyrant king resulted in his disappearance.

Cue Kahndaq in the present day and curious archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) who accidentally releases Johnson’s incredible bulk from his millennia of entombment while trying to avoid the brutal mercenaries oppressing her country.But is this spandex-clad man mountain a saviour or a sinner? Well, first impressions indicate the latter as he lethally lays waste to Adrianna’s pursuers and pretty much anything else that gets in his way, a super-charged rampage that soon attracts the attention of Suicide Squad head honcho Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and the Justice Society of America, DC Comics’ first super-team, here making its live-action bow.

The Society – a predecessor to the Justice League – first appeared in the DC comics of the 1940s and included the wartime versions of the Flash, Atom and Green Lantern along with lesser-known “mystery men” such as Hawkman and Dr Fate.

When the movie begins, we meet Teth-Adam as a slave 5,000 years ago, with his native land of Kahndaq under the tyrannical rule of King Anh-Kot. The brutal ruler has his slaves digging for “Eternium” (which may or may not bear similarities to James Cameron’s “Unobtanium”) from which he can fashion the Crown of Sabbac, which will give whoever wears it limitless power.

Teth-Adam ends the king’s reign—just as the latter is putting down a brutal revolution—by receiving the power of the Seven Wizards. This is activated by saying the word “Shazam” and turning into a nearly invincible, massively powered being who lays waste to everything around him. Soon he is imprisoned again, this time by the wizards who realize he may not be worthy of their power after all.

In the film, enigmatic sorcerer Dr Fate (played with dry aplomb by former 007 Pierce Brosnan, swapping his Walther PPK for a cape and a glistening gold helmet) and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) act as mentors to size-changing Atom-Smasher (a charmingly klutzy Noah Centineo) and Quintessa Swindell’s Cyclone, whose psychedelic wind powers only add to the team’s visually imposing presence.

Not surprisingly with an adversary exhibiting Superman levels of power, a series of concussive slugfests soon erupts, which may tick the boxes for action fans but leaves little time to flesh out these new heroes to the franchise. Nevertheless, Adam’s bickering and brawling with Hodge’s grumpy winged warrior could be the start of a long-running rivalry, while a cameo featuring an iconic star of ’70s American TV does leave you wanting more.

Of course, Johnson cannot help but look the part. All brooding menace and bulging muscles, Johnson remains steadfastly deadpan as Adam attempts to adjust to the modern world, which wryly includes bursting through walls instead of using a simple thing like a door.

Ultimately, director Jaume Collet-Serra’s reunion with his Jungle Cruise star stands or falls on Johnson’s physicality, charisma and his way with a laconic line, and he delivers in spades.

We mentioned earlier that the Snyderverse is no more, but we’re pretty damn sure that Zack Snyder secretly directed this movie anyway. It has so many of his trademarks: the desaturated, dull gray-and-brown color palette; countless ominous shots of cloud-roiled skies; heroes filmed to look like gods or at least statues of deities; and endless scenes filmed in slow-motion (or sometimes speeded-up slow-motion), with every single movement carrying a ponderous, portentous weight that really isn’t there.

It’s also super self-serious, which doesn’t play to Johnson’s strengths as an easygoing, rather jocular performer. He’s got the physical presence as always, but even as Teth-Adam slightly loosens up throughout the course of the picture it still sounds like he’s even saying his few one-liners through gritted teeth. Played like a grimdark cross between the T-800 of Terminator 2 and the MCU’s Drax the Destroyer, he’s just big, but he feels hollow, even when his tragic secret is revealed two-thirds of the way through the movie.

Black Adam may not be a game-changer for DC like the first Wonder Woman film or as much fun as Shazam.

Rating 3/5

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
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