This week, “Black Adam” was released to theaters. This latest film based on DC Comics stories and characters stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the titular anti-heroic figure, Teth Adam, also known as Black Adam. The movie showcases Adam and his origins as he clashes with both opposing magic forces and a team of superheroes known as the Justice Society of America (JSA) — consisting of veteran heroes Hawkman and Doctor Fate, and the newer members Atom Smasher and Cyclone. The story also centers around the history and people of the fictional nation Kahndaq, home of Black Adam and the kingdom he rules in the comics. The film sees the people of Kahndaq oppressed and subjugated by the crime syndicate known as Intergang, and in need of their legendary savior more than ever. Once woken from his tomb after millennia, will Black Adam be able to be what his nation needs, or will he be a force of devastation and death?
First thing you need to know about this movie — forget about the reviews. If you look them up and see a 39 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, despite the 90 percent audience score, you could get turned away from it and not go to the theaters. But while this movie is a lot of things, it is absolutely not mediocre. Watching this movie is an incredible experience that is full of endless fun and action. The fight scenes in this movie are unlike anything in other superhero movies, ranging from exciting to brutal in tone. The CGI and effects are without fault and the wall-to-wall action will have you on the edge of your seat. Everything in this movie is clear and purposeful, which unfortunately is not a given in superhero movies nowadays. This movie knows what it is and what it wants to do, and achieves it pretty much throughout the runtime. The pacing of the film is also perfect — at just a little over two hours, it doesn’t draw anything out too much while also not running on much longer than it needs to.
Where “Black Adam” really shines though is in its characters. Going into this film, some could worry it is just a dime a dozen Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action movie, but the movie avoids that well. While it is impossible to look at Black Adam and not on some level see “The Rock” in a costume, he plays the character with depth and weight like the walking powerhouse he is. Thankfully, the JSA also balances out “The Rock” by playing a major role in the film — to the point where one could see this as a JSA movie starring Black Adam rather than just a Black Adam movie with the JSA in it. Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate especially is a revelation, and Brosnan portrays his character perfectly. Doctor Fate owns every scene he is, in and every scene after his introduction that does not have him will make you want more. The same goes for Hawkman, Cyclone and Atom Smasher — all different types and personalities of superheroes that balance each other well, especially when a morally gray character such as Black Adam is thrown into the mix. This movie will make you want a JSA spin-off so you can see more of these characters. And the credit scene of the film features an appearance of a character who appears for maybe 10 seconds, but, in those few seconds, he is perhaps portrayed more perfectly than anything else in the hours of screen time he has had in this universe.
As for the drawbacks of the film, the worst that can be said is it falls into many of the same tropes and clichés most other comic book movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe do. The beginning part of the film sets up many of the characters — and the plot points get a bit expository — but that is to be expected when presenting a new mythos. The plot twists and arcs are not going to surprise or shock anyone who is familiar with these genres, although there are a few moments toward the end of the film that twist these expectations to do the unexpected. Overall, there are no damning faults of the movie that make it worse than many other enjoyable comic book movies. While it doesn’t do anything major that is new and groundbreaking, it does not need to. There isn’t anything wrong with just having a movie that gives you two hours of fun and excitement. One could argue more of these movies should be made.
Overall, “Black Adam” is more than worth a watch in theaters. It is one of the most fun superhero movies in years and in two hours those unfamiliar with many of these lesser-known characters will become endeared and want more. Between this and films like “The Suicide Squad” and “The Batman,” DC films seem to be turning a corner and expanding their universe with largely stand-alone projects that, at their cores, get at what these characters and stories should be.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars