Film Review: Black Adam

Film Review:  Black Adam

Tristan Medd, Staff Writer

Another day, another superhero movie…sigh.

Black Adam, a.k.a Teth Adam, is a storied DC character, who gains the same powers as Shazam from the movie Shazam! from a number of wizards eons ago in order to destablalize a tyrannical monarchy in his home country in Egypt. In his rage however, he ends up killing innocents and destroying his home. Because of this, Adam is deemed unworthy of his powers and is imprisoned in a sacred cave, only to be awakened years later to help  his distant ancestors escape the oppression of a military occcupation. This movie has a number of ups and downs, but I think the downs are more pressing to address.

It is not worth covering any  artistic filming techniques in the this movie – lighting choices shot decisions – because there really are none. It is made clear from the beginning that this film will do nothing new in the way of superhero films, yawn. The first thing you have to know about Black Adam is that you are in for a rigidly formulaic, anti-hero (sort of) romp. If you don’t know anything about the character the effect is not much different. This is the one of the main issues with this movie, and has been one of the main problems in almost all DCEU movies to date: its lack of originailty. The structure remains rigid: hero is introduced, hero encounters opposition, hero gives up their power for “the greater good”, and in the end the only one who can save the day is the hero, now having boldly regained their powers by using “friendship” or something equally tedious and trite.

Though there are some twists and turns throughout the film, many of them have little impact on the viewers emotional attachment to the characters, because the film does very little to establish an emotional attachment to any character, its too focused on its action. Because this film is so unoriginal, I left it feeling as though I’d forget about most of the characters in a week, because none of these character (besides Pierce Brosnan) adds anything new to the lexicon of hero archetypes the audience has learned to expect.

Teth Adam is a stoic and serious hero who will go to any length to do what he believes is right, exactly like Marvel’s Winter Soldier. Hawkman is a dedicated leader, adamant bringer of justice, and morally good to a fault, something like Captain America, Superman, and Colossus. The two teenage superheroes, Atom Smasher and Cyclone, are just carbon copies of Spiderman and Scarlet Witch. The only unique character in this movie is Doctor Fate, and even he resembles one X-Men character or another.

While I don’t think there is anything wrong with DC copying Marvel’s tropes, especially because they are just staying faithful to their original IP, I also feel that these unoriginal characters lend little to an already generic story. These characters are boring, but I don’t feel they are outright bad; the humans, however, are awful! The token young adult protagonist in this movie adds absolutely nothing to the film besides cringe-worthy meta-commentary and an obviously desperate attempt to appeal to a younger audience. The mom, while a better character, seems empty, and ends the movie feeling as directionless as she entered it. The villains in this movie aren’t characters the viewer can grasp onto either, as it is increasingly unclear who the real villain actually is. In the beginning of the movie, the villains are the soldiers who oppress the Egyptians, but at the conclusion, the villain becomes actual hell, with demons appearing from crevices in the earth for the humans to triumphantly battle. When this occurs, it feels almost as if the movie has completely forgotten about the oppressive milita, as they aren’t mentioned again. There are many other, smaller complaints I have about this movie, but for the sake of space we shall switch to the positives.

The two biggest positives in Black Adam are the acting and the action. It is incredibly obvious to the audience that the action is the focal point, and everything else is simply a contrivence, a device that gets us from one action scene to the next. It doesn’t matter all that much though, because the action is done very well, and its hard not to be impressed by the scale, choreography, and CGI during many of the fight scenes. Theses scenes are fast paced and awesome, and I certainly can’t fault this movie for relying on them. The acting is very positive, and I think that Pierce Brosnan, Dwayne Johnson, and Aldis Hodge all stand out. Aldis Hodge is just an overall great actor, and I don’t think he proved anything in this movie that he hadn’t proved in the past. Pierce Brosnan really does the character of Doctor Fate justice in this movie, as he perfectly portrays an aging man burdened with the power of foresight and the task of protecting one of the person who has been most important to him during his long life. Its incredible to watch how easily Pierce Brosnan can slip into this character and I think this role is definitely a tribute to his acting ability. The Rock plays the first role that made me forget that he was The Rock, and begin to think of him as the character he portrays in the movie. Usually its hard for me to forget that I’m watching Dwayne Johnson act, and it ruins the immersion, but he is so perfect for this character that I genuinely started seing him as Teth Adams.

All in all, this movie is better than I expected. Black Adam doesn’t chart any new waters, nor blow anybody out of the water, but if you’re a fan of the character, or a fan of mindless action backed by a predictable story, I would recommend giving it a watch.