by Shawn O’Brate
For years now the DC universe has been trying to play catch-up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) after they have set the bar extremely high with movies like “Iron Man,” “Captain America” and “The Avengers.” That has caused some rifts between fans of the comic book series that they grew up on and fans of superhero movies that don’t pander to the childlike wonder that typically surrounds superheroes.
DC’s newest film, “Black Adam,” sits on the fence in the middle of those two sets of audiences like many other DC films have done in recent years. And even though the main star, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Jumanji,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” the “Fast and the Furious” franchise), has been trying to make this movie for almost a decade, it is still facing the same tropes and plot hole mistakes that recent DC movies have been making.
While Black Adam is not technically a “super hero” but rather an “anti hero” the plot remains similar to those like “Green Lantern,” “Justice League,” “Suicide Squad” and especially “Shazam.”
In those films, and in “Black Adam,” the star and hero of the film gains the powers that he does not necessarily want before being thrown into a battle alongside sketchy CGI and the occasional other heroes in the movie.
The first act of the film is so similar to the recent live-action DC movies. It introduces two heroes or anti-heroes, shows how they gain their powers, and shows why they don’t want their powers or why they don’t want to use them in the “right” way. Then, in act two, the two heroes fight each other in an insane battle, destroying millions of dollars and thousands of lives in the process. All for the third act to bring the two heroes together to take on a bigger, badder, anti-hero that is not live-action at all, but rather made from the poorest CGI in the entire movie.
“Justice League” had the exact same plot, with Steppenwolf as the demented villain from another world that looks like the DC visual effects staff could have used a few more months in the cave carving out the edges a little better. In “Black Adam” that spot is filled by Ishmael, played by Marwan Kenzari (“Aladdin,” “The Old Guard,” “Ben-Hur”), who searches for the crown of Sabbac in order to become the devil god King Ahk-Ton.
Between the time that Black Adam, known for most of the movie by his old name “Teth Adam,” meets this evil being he has found a calling he had not felt in almost 5,000 years. The calling is, once again, the freedom of his people in Kahndaq who have been kept under military control for generations.
Freedom fighters like Adrianna Tomaz, played by Sarah Shahi (“Chicago Fire,” “Bullet to the Head”), and her son Amon, played by Bodhi Sabongui (“A Million Little Things”), turn the violent killing machine they find in a tomb into a hero of sorts but not without a push from some of DC’s lesser-known heroes.
The Justice Society, not the Justice League, are called to battle Black Adam as he destroys what seems like half of Egypt, but like almost every single DC movie before this, they end up finding a stronger evil to attack together.
Hawkman, played by Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton,” “Die Hard with a Vengeance,” “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”), and the all-knowing, mysterious Dr. Fate, played by Pierce Brosnan (“007: Die Another Day,” “Mamma Mia,” “Mrs. Doubtfire”) along with their younger superhero counterparts give Black Adam a struggle throughout the first half of the movie, but ultimately they all end up the same way.
Overall the movie was good, not great, because no matter what special powers or how “different” an anti-hero movie is from a superhero movie the tropes and similar scenes are all the same and they are what DC has been getting flack for since “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” back in 2016.
That plot could be said in few words: two “heroes” fight each other and team up against a generic, overpowered, CGI villain. Smaller villains are taken out easily, and when the main villain is defeated every other smaller villain falls with him. Then, when all seems lost, push the idea that there are even more bad guys that the “heroes” can defeat in another film.
Even with some of the laughs forced on the audience by the Rock’s minimal dialogue and outdated mindset, this movie could have used a little more work to make it less rough around the edges. With that said, this superhero movie is worth seeing in theaters and will surely be one of your children’s favorites growing up as the Rock has explained often that playing Black Adam has been his passion since he first got into movies, so expect a sequel no matter what happens in the box office.
Overall score: 3.5 / 5 Evil Crowns