“Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods–and imprisoned just as quickly–Black Adam is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.”

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writers: Ada, Sztykiel, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani, Bill Parker, C.C. Beck, Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster
Staring: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan, Noah Centineo, Quintessa Swindell, Sarah Shani, Bodhi Sabongui
Rated: PG-13
Release Date: October 21, 2022
IMDB

So, this was Dwayne Johnson’s passion project? This is the movie that he has relentlessly promoted and amped up for years?

Dwayne Johnson must feel like a student who studied his ass off for a test but still gets it back from the professor with a big fat “C” on it.

Black Adam (2022) is a perfectly middle of the road action superhero movie. The anti-hero premise that director Jaume Collet-Serra and his partner-in-crime Dwayne attack hits with muted impact, like a drummer rocking out with silencing pads on his set. Black Adam was supposed to be a new start for DC and Warner Brother studios, but instead it acted as a permanent period on a cinematic era of disappointment for a certain comic book fan base.

If you have seen an action movie where the hero has a troubled past and doesn’t have faith in one self or humanity but learns to appreciate society and himself just in time for the ultimate heroic moment…then you have seem Black Adam before. The plot of the movie is not the reason you are watching Dwayne Johnson get all caped up and kick ass. If that is genuinely tuning in for, then this movie will fall below the line of passable.

While the story is not the most engaging or inventive thing to ever hit a screen, the action does rise a bit above expectations. When Black Adam is first destroying militant helicopters with blank-stare ease, I caught myself watching more than just passively. Black Adam faces off against Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and the action sequences are pretty damn fun.

The only time the action falls a bit flat is in the grand finale. Unfortunately for both Dwayne Johnson and director Jaume Collet-Serra, this is the second straight movie where these who have combined for this affliction. Jungle Cruise (2021) was a better-than-it-ought to adventure movie. In that adventure Johnson also plays a supernaturally powered individual, granted with a lost more smiles and laughs. Whether it be on an Amazonian river or in a military controlled city, Johnson and Collet-Serra are making a habit of building up something interesting to have it flat-line.

Black Adam reminds me of a slightly better overall movie, Wolverine (2013). Substitute in a better actor Hugh Jackman for Johnson, and a better established character in Logan, and you have a similar movie in terms standard operating procedure. Good action sequences with some particularly bad-ass scenes anchored by a overstuffed finale with a bit too much CGI action.

Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Fate

The best character both in and out of the action sequences is Dr. Fate. Without a doubt, Pierce Brosnan delivers the most memorable moments from the superheroes. I can’t imagine the former James Bond was getting lifted on the wires, but his character was still dealing one of comic books most unique offensive and defensive move sets. When not creating fantastic geometric shields, Dr. Fate speaks fantastic calm wisdom with every small conversation. He is an air of mystery in a movie that is stereotypically shaped. You can predict what most of the characters will do each step of the way. Well, everyone but Dr. Fate.

Aldis Hodge plays the part of Hawkman, and he is perfectly acceptable as the role. This is also oddly the second Hodge movie of 2022 I saw, the other being Green Lantern: Beware My Power (2022). Hawkman is the leader of the Justice Society of America and the hard-nosed “obey my morale values because they are just.” His strength of stubbornness matches up with Black Adam resulting in some smashing of fists. He and the man he was led to detain have to come to the most compromises, but not after Hawkman gets his teeth battered in a few times.

Other members of the Justice Society are Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and both are stir fry filler. Both superheroes act as accent points for the main dishes, sometimes bringing a pleasant one-liner and sometimes making your cheeks a bit too over stuffed.

Black Adam sticks to a classic superhero trope with having a kid in the middle of the tussle. Credit does need to go to Bodhi Sabongui for pulling off a palatable John Connor-esq character. Young Amon Tomaz is a skateboarding rebel type with an overzealous mother who eventually befriends the anti-hero and teaches him to talk more normal and come up with a catch phrase. A kid actor in this role can really bring down an entire movie, but Bodhi rose above that.

Despite the cluster of decent ingredients making up Black Adam, the movie itself has already reached its expiration date. Part of this is due to Dwayne Johnson himself, and part of it is due to Warner Brothers being in a down spell business wise.

The WB put their backing behind two movies in 2022: Don’t Worry Darling (2022) and Black Adam. If you look at the pop culture zeitgeist…both projects did not reach the Himalayan expectations set around them. Both films did reach a lot of eyeballs, just for things not on the screen.

In terms of Black Adam, Dwayne Johnson really wanted and ultimately pushed for the return of Henry Cavill as Superman. In the post credit scene, the Kryptonian hero emerges from the shadows and confronts Black Adam saying that they need to talk. The Internet was ablaze for a time because Cavill was back in the DC movie universe and he had just left The Witcher universe as well. Things were changing.

But things would change more.

DCU is now under the helm of James Gunn. He has pulled the trigger on a lot of things, and that includes kicking Cavill back out as Superman and putting further Black Adam projects on hold.

Yikes.

Dwayne Johnson, for the first time in a long time, misplayed his hand and is now left in the lurch. One could understand his frustration with the Fast And The Furious franchise because that mess was not his making. Black Adam, Cavill, the fate of his role in super hero movies…well that is all up in the air now. Johnson is no longer King Midas for Hollywood Studios. He has a scarlet letter across his chest now that he will need to take time to erase.

Black Adam, despite all the baggage around it, does manage to fold into a salvageable two hour action mosh pit. You are going to get guzzled around and lose a few brain cells in the process of viewing, but there are some moments where your eyeballs can perk up and see something exciting.

Flying away from this viewing experience, the one thing I can not escape from is that Black Adam does not seem like a Hollywood movie star’s passion project. This movie seems more like what a teenage boy imagines while playing with some action figures in his basement. If you are a 10 to 15 year old boy, then Black Adam will have you screaming jumping from all the pieces of furniture. If you aren’t in that demographic, you’ll be searching the couch cushions for your phone to mindless scroll whatever app you most see fit.

STANKO RATING: C (2.5/5 Stars)


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