Black Adam is now in cinemas pretty much worldwide, and the reaction to the film has been a very interesting one. Before going in to see Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam (which is what I believe it should be called), I wasn’t really all that excited to see it. I’m just being brutally honest with you here. The trailers didn’t really put me in the mood to see the film. It looks like your bog-standard The Rock blockbuster, and they have all felt the same in recent years.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen Johnson star in the likes of Baywatch, Skyscraper, Rampage, Red Notice, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Jumanji: The Next Level, and most recently, Jungle Cruise. I didn’t really enjoy any of these movies, and Johnson was playing basically the same character in all of these movies, The Rock. That’s fine. I don’t mind that at all. But these movies had no inventiveness and nothing special about them.
However, it was his latest film, Jungle Cruise, which really got me worried. The film was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who also directed Black Adam, and I thought it was actually pretty awful. It made me rather worried about what Collet-Serra and Johnson would end up cooking up together with this Black Adam film. To say that I wasn’t expecting much is an understatement. However, I’m happy to report that I had a great time watching this movie, which I really wasn’t expecting.
Dwayne Johnson was born to play Black Adam
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One of the first things I have to say about the movie is that it makes it very clear that Dwayne Johnson was born to play Black Adam. He’s perfect in the role. I’ve seen several reviews say that he’s wasted in the role. The Guardian’s review said that Dwayne Johnson doesn’t get enough jokes in the movie. They actually wrote:
The most valuable element, the one that unlocks Johnson’s considerable appeal, is rather more prosaic: humour. Give the man a couple of jokes and he works magic.
Honestly, I find this sort of ‘criticism’ to be very, very unimaginative and actually, the reviewer here makes it very clear that they know next to nothing about the character of Black Adam. He doesn’t go around cracking jokes. No. He goes around cracking skulls. He’s an anti-hero and often ends up being a villain. I actually think they nailed the character in this movie. Johnson’s Black Adam walks a very fine line between hero and villain, which is one of the aspects of the movie that I loved.
I also really enjoyed the character’s more brutal nature and the dichotomy between Johnson’s Black Adam and Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman. They are both very strong beings, but they see the world in very different ways. Black Adam thinks that the only way to achieve piece is to make sure that no bad guy survives. Hawkman thinks nobody deserves to be killed, no matter their crimes. I think they worked really well as adversaries and eventually begrudging allies.
There have been many reviews from mainstream media outlets that have slammed the movie, and I’ll be honest here, they almost made me skip the movie entirely. IndieWire, for instance, called the film “another catastrophe” for DC’s film universe. I couldn’t disagree more. I would agree that before this film was released, the latest movie to be released in the DC Universe, Wonder Woman 1984, was an absolute disaster.
I thought that film was terrible. This is not the case with Black Adam. I feel that this movie has much more good than bad, and I actually had a lot of fun with it and it was much more brutal and engrossing than I ever imagined it would be.
Very much a Snyder-inspired DC Comics film
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One of the things I actually really liked about the film was that it felt like a continuation of the Zack Snyder era of DC Comics films. I feel that one of the very best DC films to have been released in recent years was Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Yes, it was a bit too long, but the film stayed true to itself, and I felt that it was one of the most enjoyable comic book films I’ve seen in a very long time.
Black Adam has a lot tonally in common with Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The very first thing you’ll notice is that the beginning of the movie has a lot of slow motion, but it wasn’t annoying like it could be in some Snyder films. It was used correctly and added to the drama. Actually, I felt like the film’s beginning felt inspired by Snyder’s film, 300, which I still believe is one of his best films to date.
I think that Johnson and Collet-Serra did this intentionally. Much of this film was about bringing the fans back on side. They did this by doing clear callbacks to Snyder’s previous work, and I actually think that visually, Snyder nailed the look of his DC films. However, it was something of a different story when it came to the plots of Snyder’s DC films. I think his DC Comics movies were actually rather poorly written.
Now, I wouldn’t say that Black Adam is one of the best-written films of all time. However, I would say that they did a very good job of stripping down the movie’s plot and making it as simple as they possibly could do. I also really enjoyed some of the twists and turns, especially when it came to Black Adam’s backstory. I didn’t expect it, and I was pleasantly surprised with how they tackled the character’s origins in the film.
That said, there is some rather poor dialogue in this film, and I feel like some characters didn’t get the development they deserved. I’m thinking mostly of Sarah Shahi’s Adrianna Tomaz. On the film’s Wikipedia page, her character is described as “a university professor and resistance fighter in modern-day Kahndaq”.
However, that’s about as much as you get to know about her character in the film. She has a son, and her husband was killed somehow. That’s never really explained. I would have liked to have known more about her character.
Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate stole the show for me
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However, one of the characters that ended up stealing the show was Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate – aka Kent Nelson. I was really looking forward to seeing Brosnan in a superhero movie. Hollywood has often overlooked him since he played Bond on the big screen, and this movie demonstrated that he is one of the most charismatic actors around. He oozes charisma and charm, and I loved every scene he was in.
Actually, I would argue that his Doctor Fate becomes the movie’s main hero, and I’m pretty upset (spoilers) that we’re not going to see more of him in the DC Universe moving forward. However, I wonder whether that was his demand when he agreed to star in the film. It was probably a ‘one-and-done’ kind of deal. I’m OK with that because he was excellent in this film and I will see it again to watch his performance once more.
Moreover, I actually really liked the introduction of the Justice Society in this film. I was a bit worried that it was going to be rushed, but they did it as well as I think they could have done, given the situation. Hodge’s Hawkman is basically their Batman. He runs the show, and I really enjoyed him in that role.
I think that Atom Smasher (played by Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (played by Quintessa Swindell) were pretty cute also, and I loved how Cyclone’s powers looked on the big screen. It was very inventive.
Black Adam breathes new life into the DC Universe
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The only real issues I had with the film were that it was a bit long (although, the time flew by for me, but it might end up dragging a bit upon repeat viewings), and I think that the film’s villain was pretty boring and uninspired. They cast the brilliant Marwan Kenzari as the film’s main villain. From the minute he’s on-screen, you know that he’s going to be the bad guy. However, I really feel like they wasted Kenzari’s talents here.
That said, I did enjoy the fight scene between Kenzari’s Sabbac and Pierce Brosnan’s Doctor Fate at the end. I think this movie managed to masterfully skirt previous DC movies’ main issues, which was their terrible final third battle scenes. They always took place at night, and you could not see a single thing that was going on.
This movie’s final battle takes place in broad sunlight, and Doctor Fate’s powers light up the whole scene even more. I really loved the movie’s final third, and that’s something that I have not enjoyed in previous DC Comics movies.
All in all, I had a really good time with Black Adam, and I think it’s a solid movie that breathes new life into the DC Universe. Looking at the movie’s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it does seem as though people have been liking it much more than the critics did. I really do not understand what the critics were expecting.
Maybe critics have become too used to seeing Marvel Studios films, which are becoming very similar nowadays. This movie is something very different, and I think I like it even more because of it. It’s not trying to be a Marvel movie. Black Adam is its own beast, and it knows it. That’s why I think it’s a success.
What do you make of this review? Have you seen Black Adam yet? If so, what did you think of it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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- Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam
- Inspired by Snyder's work
- Pierce Brosnan's Doctor Fate
- Aldis Hodge's Hawkman
- Breathes new life into the DC Universe
- Black Adam's backstory
- Brilliant final battle
- Slightly unimaginative
- Rather bland locations
- Poor villain
- Some pretty bad dialogue