Way back in 2014 (yes it does really feel that long ago!) Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was announced as playing the title role of Black Adam in the DC Cinematic Universe. After the many highs and lows of the DC Extended Universe films with varying degrees of management, the film announced all the way back then is finally here. The movie is an action packed, over-stuffed yet at times feels under-developed with an incredibly talented cast and some truly spectacular CGI sequences that serve as the start of a new chapter for DC films after the recent implementation of new Warner Bros owners Discovery. While not everything sticks the landing, it is a funny, non-stop action film that is worth a trip to your local cinema.
Teth Adam (Dwayne Johnson) is a super-powered martyr granted the same powers as Shazam in the fictional middle eastern country of Kahndaq. After remaining dormant for 5000 years, he is bought back to become the hero of Kahndaq after invaders begin mining for valuable minerals. That’s not all, they also want to steal as many artefacts as they can and the Crown of Sabbac is at the top of their list. When Adam awakes he pretty much rips everything and everyone apart that is standing in his way. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) instructs a group of superheroes (The Justice Society) to take him down before he gets his full strength. This team is led by Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and his long time mentor Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) with two rookies Red Tornado (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Cintineo) While they encounter difficulties taking Adam down, the moral dilemma of the Justice Society and what they stand for plays a big part in this film.
It’s not all about heroes and villains though, the human main stars consist of Adrianna (Sarah Shahi) and her teenage son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) together they are the heart of this film doing everything they can to make sure that Adam becomes the hero of Kahndaq. Along for the ride is Adrianna’s brother Karim (Mohammed Amer) who is the scene stealing comic relief that this film sometimes needs when things start getting a little too serious. Marwan Kezari plays the villain Sabbac, a beautiful CGI-ed Hellboy type creature.
If you are not familiar with any of these names or heroes, there is little to be said beyond a few sentences about their powers before they are all together on a jet heading to Kahndaq from Louisiana. As this is the 13th film in the DCEU, putting together a bunch of heroes to take down a villain is nothing that audiences haven’t seen before and similarly to The Suicide Squad, doesn’t get bogged down in the how/why/backstory, if you don’t know who they are it doesn’t take much brain power to get all caught up. The four heroes from the Justice Society all interact well together and the balance of powers shows why they were chosen for this particular assignment. That being said the most overlooked is Red Tornado who doesn’t get as much screen time as the others.
The star player of the JSA (Justice Society of America) is definitely Hawkman played by the incredibly charismatic Aldis Hodge who feels completely at home in the world of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad comic book universe. He is definitely a hero and has a black and white view of the world and how his team fit into it. It’s an interesting conversation to throw out there into the universe and while there is no huge payoff for this, it is a little breadcrumb that could lead to bigger things with this character in the future. Similarly Brosnan and Johnson have incredible chemistry and their banter provide some of the great jokes of the movie.
While everything doesn’t come together perfectly in this film, the banter between the heroes and the foundation of the story and this long time DC character is enough to earn it a passing score. The huge explosive action sequences are incredibly impressive and let this film settle into being a big budget action movie. When you get through the initial thirty minutes of the film and the questions like “Why isn’t Shazam here? This is weird” leave and you switch your brain off and start having fun, everything settles down and Black Adam becomes a blockbuster delivering the big moments that movie lovers go to the cinema for.
The rumoured moment in the credits scene happens as expected and the sheer joy and delight from those in the cinema who didn’t have the internet spoil what happens was worth the price of admission alone.
Black Adam is apparently serving as yet another reboot of the DC Extended Universe. Seeing characters like Amanda Waller and Jennifer Hollands Agent Harcourt kept things feeling connected to a larger plan, feeling very reminiscent of a MCU Phase 1 film (not a bad thing!) If you are looking for big action with Dwayne Johnson finally unleashed as Black Adam, this is the movie for you. Anyone expecting anything more than a big dumb blockbuster will be in for disappointment.
Black Adam is in cinemas today.
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