Black Adam (2022)
Black Adam (2022)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 2 hrs. 4 min.

Release Date: October 21st, 2022 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Shahi, Pierce Brosnan, Noah Centineo, Aldis Hodge, Quintessa Swindell, Bodhi Sabongui, Marwan Kenzari

 


 

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etermined to acquire the Eternium crystals required to craft the Crown of Sabbac, a diadem that bestows unimaginable power to its wearer, the vile king of ancient Kahndaq created an empire of slaves to dig ceaselessly for the precious ore. When a young laborer defies the evil ruler, the king quickly sentences him to death. But instead of becoming a martyr, the Council of Wizards grants the boy magical abilities of such magnitude that he is able to vanquish the tyrant and free the entire city. Or so the legend goes.

In present day Kahndaq, the people face modern oppressors in the form of Intergang, a notorious crime syndicate plundering the land of its resources. When archaeologist and resistance fighter Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) learns of Intergang’s search for the Crown of Sabbac, she uses her knowledge of the bygone tomes and language to uncover the artifact first – a quest that places both her life and that of her son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui), in jeopardy. Accidentally invoking an incantation that calls forth Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson), the mythical champion of ancient Kahndaq, Adrianna believes the god-like being to be the savior her city so pressingly needs. But the Justice Society of America – a superhero organization comprised of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) – feels otherwise, racing to Kahndaq to capture the renegade deity and permanently end his destructive escapades.

The opening sequence is an absolute mess. Blending mythological notes, a quest for supernatural immortality, a fictional mineral of great value, hokey legends, routine prophecies, omnipotent gods, timely miracles, demonic forces, and more – each adorned with their own jargon – the setup is utter lunacy. This is the kind of occult design that few will care about, considering the limitless possibilities of a realm without rules and inhabitants without boundaries. Like so many superhero movies before it, “Black Adam” is doomed to follow a path of perpetual randomness.

It’s also difficult to sympathize with such a generic tale of longstanding oppression, though the film certainly hopes for some default consideration to be given to a fake society of downtrodden people. With the abundance of supernatural entities and magic, the characters are even harder to relate to; these denizens in these types of societal subjugations are becoming the tedious standard for anticipated opposition by otherworldly saviors. For every unjust persecution, a superhero can be summoned for help. “It doesn’t work like that.”

Primarily, however, “Black Adam” is an action picture, yet the overuse of computer-generated blurs of lightning and other electric beams of energy merely provides visual chaos – usually midair, too, as zipping through the skies is something that apparently every superhero can do with ease. “The man has nearly god-level powers.” With unexplained might and unrestricted capabilities comes total indifference; fight choreography is repetitive and often ends in stalemates, while no one is ever in any real danger (since they’re all seemingly invincible demigods battering one another across cities that are virtually leveled in their wake). The only amusing thing about Adam’s ethos is that he’s willing to kill; but, conspicuously, he still only offs obvious villains who are shooting at or attacking him. Not a single pedestrian noticeably dies by his intentional disregard for human life. He isn’t the antihero the creators would have audiences believe; he’s every bit the disappointingly morally upright superhero of such banal productions.

As a link to “Suicide Squad” (and “The Suicide Squad”), as well as other DC projects (this episode so desperately wants to aid in a Marvel universe equivalency), Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is once again in charge of assembling a team of misfits to tackle a rogue being. Strangely, with its collection of Justice Society members, it’s as if the writers wanted to redo “Justice League” but with an assortment of Z-grade, bottom-of-the-barrel substitutes (some so unnecessary and bland that they almost feel as if a joke in the same vein as Polka-Dot Man), and could only attempt such a script with the star power of someone like Johnson, who was written into an aimless but unused, preexisting DC creation. It’s all just as unoriginal and goofy, but without the fun of James Gunn’s version’s self-aware humor. And, with its combination of so many disparate personas, it’s too busy, convoluted, disorderly, and stuffed with pointless interactions. The repetition is especially exhausting in the action sequences, such as when Hawkman is knocked unconscious, before immediately awaking to continue in additional, protracted combat; or when slow-motion posing begins to resemble “Mortal Kombat” video game footage. Johnson is, on occasion, a cinematic champion, but the dearth of creativity here is crippling.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10


The DC Extended Universe


Man of Steel (2013)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Suicide Squad (2016)

Wonder Woman (2017)

Justice League (2017)

Aquaman (2018)

Shazam! (2019)

Birds of Prey (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

The Suicide Squad (2021)

Black Adam (2022)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)

The Flash (2023)

Blue Beetle (2023)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)