Let’s not bury the lead. “Black Adam,” DC Comics’ latest cinematic offering, isn’t a good movie. It’s poorly written, full of hacky dialogue and the story structure is a mess. Yet, as flawed as this movie is, the presence of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and some fun, high-energy action scenes keep this film afloat.
“Black Adam” opens in the nation of Kahndaq with a “Lord of the Rings” style prologue detailing Teth-Adam’s (Johnson) backstory, as well as background on the making of the film McGuffin, the crown of Sabbath.
Jump to the present day and the people of Kahndaq are currently chafing under the boot of a criminal group known as Intergang. When The Intergang traps archaeologist Adriana Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), she unwittingly resurrects Teth-Adam, who begins obliterating people and destroying everything in sight. The Justice Society of America is called in to deal with the problem, but when another threat arises, Teth-Adam and the JSA must join forces to prevail.
This movie has some glaring problems, starting with the writing. The plot is messy and hazy. The movie is called “Black Adam”, but it’s as much the JSA movie as it is the Teth-Adam movie and that means the main character is sidelined while supporting characters like Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan) initiate a dialogue. back and forth.
Speaking of dialogue, this movie contains some really awkward lines. For instance:
Hawkman: Heroes don’t kill people.
(The musical score pauses dramatically.)
Teth-Adam: Well… I do.
It’s the kind of bullshit a teenager just learned to write scripts, and they don’t have mountains of movie studio money to fund their efforts.
There are also special effects in this movie that are so unconvincing. All I’ll say here is when you do the 2022 Ray Harryhausen fighting skeletons thing and the fighting skeletons that Harryhausen was doing in 1963 look more realistic that’s when you know you’re in trouble.
Despite all that, “Black Adam” is actually quite a fun ride for a number of reasons, starting with Johnson. You could tell me that Johnson was created by scientists in a lab specifically for this role and I would believe you. His imposing physique and glowing eyes are perfect for the physical vessel of Teth-Adam’s powers. His boatloads of charisma make the dialogue a little more believable than it actually is. That line about killing people I quoted? It only works because of how Johnson delivers it.
Johnson receives help from his supporting cast. Hodge is awesome as Hawkman. I remember him in season 2 of “Supernatural”. It’s pretty cool to see how far he’s come and he owns his role here. Brosnan is as good as Dr. Fate. It gives an understated, understated performance, but it works pretty well.
The other thing that makes “Black Adam” worth watching are the action scenes. Admittedly, it’s pretty boring to watch Teth-Adam mow down normal humans, even heavily armed ones. But once he starts taking on the JSA, the fights become more energetic and inventive. The only flaw here is that there are so many replays in the final battle, you’d think Zack Snyder realized it. But other than that, the action scenes are great.
Johnson has been attached to a “Black Adam” movie seemingly forever and he was officially announced as the character in 2014, so this long-gestating film is clearly a passion project for him. His passion for the project has produced a film that is not going to blow anyone away. But if you like “The Rock” and lots of cool action scenes, “Black Adam” is for you.