Black Adam

  • Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
  • October 3, 2022 (Mexico City) / October 21, 2022 (US)

An ancient superhuman is released from his magic imprisonment by archeologists seeking to use him to free the nation of Kahndaq from Intergang.

While flawed, Black Adam has much in it to make a very good movie. The mythology laid out is good but how much of what we get is presented is largely where it goes wrong. Let me explain.

One thing I hate is when a movie opens with heavy exposition and that’s exactly what Black Adam does. It tells the story (at least the version known to most people in the fictional universe in which it exists) of how Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) came to be. Since the character is largely considered a myth to those in the present, they could have dropped the story in as the film went along. As it is this extended part wasted a great deal of time that could have been dedicated elsewhere.

From there the narrative shifts into the present day and makes another mistake. It fails to explain the main threat of Intergang. In this film Intergang controls the nation of Kahndaq where the story takes place and is one in a long line of conquerors that have controlled this vaguely placed Middle Eastern nation. The thing is why is Intergang important? What exactly are they? No in movie explanation is given.

In DC Comics Intergang is an organized crime syndicate armed with technology from the planet Apokolips. In other words they ultimately work for Darkseid. Great way to slip in a Snyderverse connection but without any in film explanation they have absolutely no meaning and lack any importance as a threat. They did not even need to make a Darkseid connection but rather to give them some type of background because unless you are familiar with Superman: The Animated Series or general DC Comics lore these are a blank slate.

Minor thing but I also draw issue with the lack of elf ears on Black Adam. It’s a small thing but a small thing that helps differentiate him from his closest comparison of Shazam (formerly called Captain Marvel in the coics). He would not have looked good with the Black Adam haircut but the elf ears would’ve done no harm. It is a consistent feature of the character and nearly as important as Superman’s spit curl.

The rest of the mythology however they do a fine job of explaining. They give you enough to get through from beginning to end with few questions to leave you confused. There are a few things you might want them to dig deeper into but it is nothing that ultimately harms the narrative.

Overall though the film is a good actioner. I can’t complain about that. It’s not great but it’s not terrible. It manages to be a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously but also doesn’t do what Marvel does and make a joke to point out the absurdity of the situation they’re dealing with. It’s fun and entertaining and exciting and it’s a relatively self-contained film that only hints at a possible sequel and a larger universe. That latter part hurts now.

That closing credits scene with Henry Cavill as Superman was painful to watch. Not because it was bad but because I had wanted to see him in another DC movie for nearly 10 years. We got that with the tease of more but now know none is to come. I was jazzed even though I knew it was going nowhere but it was still a great reward.

Aside from Johnson, we have Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher, Sarah Shahi as archeologist Adrianna Tomaz, Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone. and Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate with Viola Davis showing as the tough Amanda Waller. Rather than being Taskforce X they form the Justice Society.

I don’t think there was a much better actor you could cast than Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate. He had a great demeanor for a powerful sorcerer and really sold the relationship with Hawkman. It gave both characters depth even though they lacked much to give them a background beyond “We’re here!”

Via their relationship onscreen Atom Smasher and Cyclone develop pretty well. They weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, but they were they were clearly meant as the couple of the movie. This is in comparison to Black Adam and the character of Adrianna Tomaz. All she does is plead with him to either not hurt her son or to save her son. Their relationship never develops beyond that. Black Adam clearly takes a liking to her and helps her out, but they aren’t romantic. They’re barely even friends which makes his numerous actions on her behalf questionable.  Ultimately the characters are different enough that you can tell them apart.

Black Adam is good for what it is and Jaume Collet-Serra does a fine job bringing together all the elements but not perfectly so. Somehow you get through the rough spots without issue while watching and only question stuff after the credits when you have time to think.

There is a character in this called Ishmael Gregor (Marwan Kenzari) who eventually becomes the demon Sabbac and his link in everything to me is fuzzy. Is he supposed to be the secret leader of Intergang? Or was he a baddie that aligned himself with them for his own ends? They don’t make that clear.

Ultimately while not bad Black Adam is not great. It is safe. If you are looking for a one-off movie to pass the time this is worth a watch but if you’re someone who wants to become invested in a superhero movie for sequels skip it because we all know at this point it ain’t getting one.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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