Black Adam: An In-Depth Review

Spoilers Ahead!

Expectedly to anyone who has watched the majority of DC projects over the past decade, it is safe to say I was not expecting much from their most recent creation: Black Adam. This film has been years in the making, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson being chosen to play the role all the way back in 2007, but for a plethora of reasons his iteration of the character did not make it to screens until this year; anticipation that can either make or break a film of this genre. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome DC had produced this time round, with a handful of standout performers, as well as a storyline that overall lent itself to the character, forming a film that was incredibly watchable, and at times extremely fun to watch.

Without doubt, this film does follow the cliched and in parts unexciting formula of a typical superhero origin story, with the prime motivation of Black Adam being the tragic beginnings of his family’s story in Kahndaq; a catalyst that is mirrored in countless stories to date. Nonetheless, DC were able to make amends for this mostly expectable storyline through several twists in the plot line throughout, with Teth-Adam’s undeniable darkness and murderous tendencies in the name of retribution providing sufficient fuel to steer the movie away from being just another carbon copy of so many before it, as well as the background of the ancient city being under constant enemy control in his absence providing more depth to the character’s return in the modern day, and adding an extra layer to the plot as a whole. This brings me seamlessly onto my next point: that Dwayne Johnson is so clearly the perfect casting for this character. The actor’s mountainous physique only adds to a sensational performance all round, with Black Adam’s ceaseless anger constantly present and evident through his intense smoulder. There is no doubt that regardless of the holes that can be unearthed in the project as a whole, there is no actor better suited to take on this mantle than The Rock, as he proved at many pivotal points within this project.

The Justice Society in my opinion were simultaneously both a high and low point of this movie in a very complex way. Undeniably, when they were first introduced I was anxious that they would transpire to be an underwhelming substitute for the Justice League, to force more characters into the DC Universe in preparation for upcoming projects, but by the films conclusion I undoubtedly stand very much corrected. Aldis Hodge perfectly encapsulated the leadership and fierceness of Hawkman in a very effective performance, that had the potential to be very dull had it not been for his acting prowess. Similarly, I thought Noah Centineo was a great casting choice to play Atom Smasher; however I do think at times they forced in certain gags in an attempt at comic relief when in reality it wasn’t always needed. Don’t get me wrong, a number of the comedy aspects of this otherwise serious and grounded movie hit the exactly right spot, but particularly in the case of Atom Smasher, I thought that certain quips were unneeded and cheapened Centineo’s otherwise impressive performance. I do think it is becoming a trend that production teams genre-wide are forcing in comedic value where it is not necessary, when truthfully in this specific case, funny moments such as Mohammed Amer’s Karim blasting Baby Come Back in his van would have sufficed in providing moments of relief for the viewer.

Swiftly returning to the performance of the Justice Society, Quintessa Swindell’s Cyclone was a great addition to the team. Her back and forth chemistry with Atom Smasher throughout the movie very much added to the sense of companionship amongst the team as a whole, as well as some of the amazing action scenes in which her character showcased her abilities being an aesthetically pleasing aspect of the movie. This brings me on to one of my personal highlights of the movie as a whole; Doctor Fate. I thought everything about this character, from the CGI that formed some breathtaking and mind bending action scenes, to the spot on casting and overall performance of Pierce Brosnan, was sensational. The eye-catching helmet and costume were enough to make this character one to remember, however the showcase of his astounding abilities were a real high point of the film and every one of its multitude of action scenes. It is a shame that Brosnan’s character had to come to his conclusion at the end of the film, limiting the multifaceted character’s potential in the future, however the manner in which he did so very nicely progressed the plot, as well as his final battle with Sabbac being undeniably exciting and extremely pleasing to watch.

Although stunning in most places, it would be remiss not to mention the fact that at junctures, the visual effects were clearly of a lot less quality than others; however it is easy to gloss over this when DC clearly went all out to make certain scenes as seamless and aesthetically stunning as possible. Referring to the ending of the movie, I once again refer to cliche story points that follow the formula of a traditional superhero origin story, as Teth-Adam toils with his morality resulting from the death of his son, and decides to become the protector of Kahndaq; officially taking on the mantle of ‘Black Adam’ whilst simultaneously denouncing the idea of him being the world’s newest superhero. Undoubtedly, it was the end that was required to bring the characters story arc to a close following the events of the movie, however it is undeniable that there is nothing exciting or off the cuff about the way the *main* body of the film comes to its conclusion. On the other hand, the inclusion of the post credits scene is definitely the introduction of something that will stir excitement in all comic book fans for the future of the DC Universe. As Black Adam dismisses the warning of Amanda Waller to tread carefully within his dealings on Earth, the eagerly anticipated and vehemently protested for Man of Steel Henry Cavill emerges from the mist to reprise his role as Superman. Being an appearance that was largely in doubt for the past few years, the appearance of the The Witcher actor was a very welcome surprise for those invested in the DC Universe, and most definitely was a sensational ending to the film that not only got people talking the world over, but has relit a fire amongst audiences that had mostly diminished, regarding future projects and team ups in the DCEU.

In summary, despite suffering from some below par writing at times, as well as some lacklustre special effects, the introduction of the eagerly anticipated Black Adam was an easy to watch movie, that introduces some very interesting characters from DC lore onto the big screen through enthralling action scenes and a predominantly interesting storyline. Above all, I believe the casting choices for this movie could not have been bested, and the choice of actors to take on these characters, and their effective performances, actually helped to take attention away from where in places the underlying writing and story may have lacked. Overall, I think that for those who have been craving the DCEU’s revival after an undeniably disappointing stint from the production company, this film is very much the launch of a new era for the cinematic universe, and serves the purpose of providing an exciting origin story to build anticipation for what is to come in future projects. There are indisputable points in which the film fell short in all categories, however, it serves its purpose as a soft reboot for the universe that is a very enjoyable and engaging watch. For this multitude of reasons, I have decided to rate the film a respectable 7.5/10, with the indisputable casting choices, enthralling action scenes, and a story that although not flawless, far exceeds the most recent contributions within the DC Universe, instilling a great excitement for what is to come; which I believe was the ultimate end goal for the production company in the release of this film.