Saturday 22 October 2022

REVIEW: Black Adam (2022) - Starring Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Shahi

Review by Jon Donnis
DC are back with a new Superhero film! And apparently the start of a new "Phase" of films, whatever, I don't really care about all that, I am only interested in this film.

WARNING: There are spoilers in this review, so stop reading now if that is a problem, spoilers are limited, but still I thought I should warn you since this is a new film.

Let's start off with the name of the film, Black Adam, ok the "Black" has nothing to do with being Black, and is purely to do with the colour of his suit. It is also strange that Dwayne Johnson was cast as the lead character that is supposed to be some ancient middle eastern guy, especially as The Rock is half Samoan and half black Canadian. But I guess he looks the part so that's ok.

The film starts in 2600BC, in the ancient town of Kahndaq, basically like somewhere in Iraq. A tyrannical King creates the Crown of Sabbac out of some kind of blue mineral that has special powers. Whoever wears the crown is granted great powers.

Slaves are used to mine, and after one finds this mineral, a young boy tries to stage a revolution, and just before he is to be killed, he is given the power of Shazam by some ancient wizard types, which transforms him into Kahndaq's heroic champion Teth-Adam. As Teth he kills the King and ends his reign of terror, but as he does so the town is destroyed.

Fast forward to the present day, and Kahndaq and its citizens are once again being oppressed by a group known as Intergang, I am guessing these are supposed to be Australians, US or British, god knows, but its that evil white man again.

Archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) is searching for the ancient Crown of Sabbac with the help of her brother Karim. She finds the crown but find themselves being attacked and chased by Intergang. Adrianna reads an incantation that awakens Teth-Adam from his 5000-year sleep. He then kills all the bad guys, but also gets hurt himself. Adrianna takes him back to her place for him to recover.

Meanwhile an intelligence officer with A.R.G.U.S., Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) hears of the incident in Kahndaq and instructs the JSA, the Justice Society of America, consisting of Kent Nelson / Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Maxine Hunkel / Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Albert "Al" Rothstein / Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) to investigate and take Teth-Adam into custody.

The JSA come along and spoil all the fun, reveal the truth about Teth-Adam, and genuinely are instantly unlikeable. Doctor Fate comes across as a poor man's Doctor Strange, Cyclone is just Storm from the X-Men, and Atom Smasher is Ant man. Now I have no idea who came first in the Comics, and I don't care, they all come across as cheap rip offs.

Teth-Adam is called Teth-Adam throughout the film, making the title kind of pointless. And although I like Dwayne Johnson, they just take away all of his personality in this film. They go down a similar route that was done with Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, where he doesn't understand sarcasm, and humour etc, and has to learn etc. The problem is that people like Johnson, because he has personality, taking that away, just for a couple of slightly funny lines seems a bizarre choice to make.

Later on in the film, there is even a hilarious bit of CGI whereby they show you what Johnson would look like without the steroids, and just as a normal man, it looks so funny, I burst out laughing. Perhaps worse than the start of Captain America.

The film is full of plot holes, the JSA are really unlikeable, and although the film delivers almost nonstop action, it just seems to lack character, there is no one really to cheer for other than Archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz and her son. At least actress Sarah Shahi is actually from the Middle East.

The Good
Sarah Shahi is a likeable actress and is the best thing in the entire film. The action scenes are great, and if you like near 2-hour action films, with a huge budget, then this is the film for you.

The Bad
So many plot holes and unanswered questions. Even the mid credits scene that stars another famous DC superhero, setting up another film I assume, only makes you ask the question why he never showed up earlier? Why didn't Amanda Waller call him up first instead of the JSA? I could point out more plot holes, but if I did it would spoil the movie even more.

Despite my obvious issues with the film, I did watch it from start to end, I wasn't distracted and never felt the need to check my phone or do anything else. The film kept me interested throughout, which to me is a success for any film to do.

I have to admit I am a bit of a sucker for huge budget action films. Throw enough action scenes my way, and you keep me watching. The question is will I watch a second time in the future, and that is when I know if I really enjoyed the film for the story, or if I was just entertained by fancy CGI. Right now, after just finishing the film, I have literally no interest in seeing the film again, that is not to say I wont, I just have no interest right now, and as such that points to me that the film failed on some level.

The film at times feels like a way to create someone who can match up to Superman in a future film, as well as give DC another "diverse" film to shout about.

Not the best film from DC by a long way, but also not the worst, somewhere in the middle.
And as such I score Black Adam a fair 6/10. Too much shine, not enough substance.

At cinemas now!