You’ve likely heard two very different opinions about the movie I’m about to review. Critics are saying one thing, and audiences are saying another. It might make you wonder whether you should see it or not. While I am just one opinion, I do believe in making judgments for yourself. To go see something and see if it makes you happy. As my Black Adam Review will show you, if I listened to the critics alone…I would’ve missed a great movie.
Even if you aren’t well-versed in the lore of Black Adam, the movie more than takes care of that by explaining the origins of Kahndaq, why it needed a Champion of the Council of Wizards, the victory the champion ended up with, and then his transference into legend. But not all legends are what they appear, and not all saviors are heroes.
This isn’t a “hero’s journey” kind of tale. This is the story of a man coming to terms with his power and taking his rightful place as his nation’s protector. There’s power in that, and this movie LOVES showing off the powers it has.
While I wasn’t certain of it at first, seeing the story through the eyes of not Teth Adam (per se) but through the viewpoint of Adrianna and her son, Amon, was the right thing here. In DC Comics lore, the people of Kahndaq revere Black Adam. He inspires them, and his legend helps them win their freedom, and we see that in this movie. Some might think Amon is a bit childish, but A) he is a child, and B) he went from living a life of oppression to suddenly having a superpowered being of legend coming to his family’s aid. Why wouldn’t he feel the need to try and get this guy to free his people like the legends of old stated he did before? And by the end of the movie, you see and experience Teth Adam’s connection with his people, even destroying the king’s throne because he doesn’t want to rule. He just wants to keep his home safe…from ANY threat that dares come into his homeland.
I cannot speak highly enough of The Rock and his performance. Some will be taken aback by his stoic and blunt manner of handling things, but that’s how Black Adam is! He’s not a hero. He is a stern hand of justice, his brand of justice. If you threaten his people, you are an obstacle that will be taken care of. Despite what Amon says, he doesn’t need catchphrases. Teth Adam is a blunt instrument that does his job very well. And The Rock does a great job of bringing Adam to life. We see everything from his power to his beliefs on right and wrong, to his reservations about being back in the world, the regret over what he’s lost and done, and more. I saw many people complain about his performance…I don’t get why they felt that way. The Rock was exactly what he needed to be, and because of his performance, the other characters got to shine too.
Amon was a standout, and he played his role well. But his mother, Adrianna, was another great character. She wasn’t the “love interest,” like so many superhero movies have. She was his focus. She was the one who told Adam what needed to be done to save Kahndaq, and he understood that. Plus, she was never afraid to do what needed to be done herself. Even if that meant defying a certain superhero group or fighting a horde of the undead, a lot of movies could learn from what they did with her.
The JSA was another shining star of the film. While the group is the precursor to the Justice League in the comics, they played them the right way to make them a genuine group while also helping them stand out from the crowd. The standouts were easily Aldis Hodge’s Hawkman (Carter Hall) and Pierce Brosnan’s Dr. Fate. The “leaders” of the group had a great dynamic, and excellent displays of power, and you could tell they had been doing this for a long time. While they did tweak Dr. Fate a little for the movie, Brosnan crushed it right up until the end. Plus, Hawkman was fun to watch as he battled Black Adam, a certain other villain. I loved his look for the movie, and I hope he continues on the DCEU because he’s a lot of fun.
That’s not to say the rest of the Justice Society didn’t get some fun. The “young guns” of Cyclone and Atom Smasher were good. They were a little underdeveloped, but when they were on screen, they were fun and funny. Special props to the VFX department for Cyclone’s powers. I watched the movie with my father, who accurately noted that her move set was “like a dancer.” Poetic and beautiful, and every move has a purpose. I felt that was accurate. Yes, they kind of rushed a love story between these two, but it’s hardly the worst love story I’ve seen in recent comic films, trust me. I want to see the JSA again, if for no other reason than to see who else might join their ranks for their next fight.
Speaking of fights, I loved the action sequences in the film. This honestly felt like a “comic book movie” because of the repeated action, high stakes, and everyone getting a moment to shine. The JSA vs. Black Adam had many moments that stood out, but that wasn’t all there was. Black Adam himself was well-handled in that they made sure his various god-like powers looked and felt impactful, powerful, and above everyone else.
The opening fight against Intergang was well-handled because to him, everything was in slow motion, and he dealt with them without a wasted motion.
I appreciated making Intergang not just a culturally relevant threat but one that wasn’t just firing bullets at Adam. Rather, they used Eternium (which is an element from DC Comics lore) to do more damage, and make their bikes faster and more powerful. It was clever, as was the arrival of Sabbac. Granted, it wasn’t a fully accurate interpretation, but it was one appropriate for the movie.
What’s more, they made sure that Sabbac was a true threat to them all and not just a “MacGuffin villain,” which they could’ve easily done. Instead, they made sure that Adam and the JSA had to do all they could to put the monster down, else everything would be lost.
I’m sure you’re waiting for the downsides, especially after all the critical bashing the film took. Yes, this Black Adam Review won’t end in a perfect score, but it never needed to. I’ve only given two perfect scores to superhero films in my life (one from each side of the “equation.”), but that doesn’t mean this movie isn’t great.
There were two big issues I had with the movie. One, there was a bit too much comedy at points. They balanced it out better than most, but it was still there, especially with someone like Atom Smasher, Kareem, and Amon at times. But I will give them credit for giving a REASON for the comedy sometimes and even calling it out when it was cringey. Thanks, Hawkman.
The other big thing (which is becoming a problem for numerous superhero films) is the CGI didn’t always hold up. Even when it was just characters standing in front of buildings, you could tell there was a green screen. Other things (like Cyclone’s attacks or Dr. Fate’s magic) were incredible looking, but then, these scenes popped up and it kind of “ruined the illusion” at points.
Make no mistake, though, even with these flaws; the movie is still great. There are plenty of references to the DC Comics universe and previous DCEU films to get fans excited for what’s next. Plus, the post-credits scene is legendary, and I can’t wait to see what comes of it. Or if they go the other route with Teth Adam. After all…there’s another champion out there.
So I’ll tell you now what I said before. If you’re interested in this movie, see it! Don’t take this Black Adam Review as gospel, but do take it as a sign that you might want to go check it out. If you do…tell them the man in black sent you.
Black Adam Review
Black Adam is a movie a long-time coming. It’s meant to be its own thing, and it shows. With plenty of action, a great cast of characters, and an ending that speaks to the future, this is one film you’ll want to check out.
- Black Adam Review