After years spent as Hollywood's favorite hunk of meat for hire, Dwayne Johnson found himself heading a standalone superhero film. This truly felt like the sizzling Samoan’s moment. Fervent comic fans around the world brimmed with anticipation at the prospect of “Black Adam” being brought to the big screen, by the biggest box office draw in the industry no less. Thus, it is with a heavy heart that I inform readers of this movie's colossal shortcomings.
“Black Adam'' is not terribly dissimilar from “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” as evidenced by my shared disdain of them all the same. It is still an impressively scaled film, delivered with great passion and gusto by the aforementioned Johnson and Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who's carved out a nice niche for himself by directing nothing particularly good. There's plenty of punching, flying and quipping, just with a brooding undertone that borders on humorous angst at times, which may well be the crux of the issue for me.
If I were to define my disdain for the DC Extended Universe in a single word, it would be drab. Why are no characters in these movies allowed to have fun? It's like if a superhero movie was directed by a grayscale color palette. It's such a mopey movie that even the colors have run for the hills — well, all colors except for the dull dust tones which punctuate the cinematography.
I'm not saying everything has to be joyous all the time, but could the viewers receive some levity not in the form of a painfully unfunny, B-grade stand-up scene from Noah Centineo? I know this may seem unreservedly harsh, but it stems from a place of deep adoration for the source material. It hurts to sit idly by and watch as yet another cherished relic of my youth has its potential squandered by Warner Brothers.
Black Adam is a rich, layered character, one whose past is rife with agony and complexities, which could easily lend itself into a rousing film, as opposed to this miserable, lifeless one.
The plot is a fairly unremarkable origin story, which finds humans wrestling with the idea of a man whose powers may well be wielded to the detriment of humanity. The plot serves more as an excuse to have Black Adam do all of the things we've come to expect in these sorts of movies, only this time with a villainous edge to them.
Pierce Brosnan, of all people, delivers my favorite performance of the whole film as Doctor Fate, which only exacerbates his woeful underutilization. This is not a movie bereft of good ideas; it's just a movie unwilling to expound on them. I am not angry with the creative team for “Black Adam,” I'm just disappointed. I know they were capable of so much better.
“Black Adam” earns a 3.5/10 from me. For all of my gripes with this movie, if I were flipping through channels and saw this playing, I’d still probably watch it. What can I say, I am a hypocrite.
Maybe I could have fully enjoyed this film if anyone involved seemed intent on having any kind of fun themselves.