Dwayne Johnson makes a big splash in an already tired film genre and André doesn't have much positive to say...
The fictional state of Kahndaq has been under oppression for as long as can be remembered. When their ancestors are not terrorised by a tyrannical king, their descendants live under the heel of a crime syndicate. The solution? A fighter is conjured up by the same wizards who gave the world Shazam, but the new fighter has nothing in common with Zachary Levi's charming boy. Kahndaq's saviour is a vengeful, angry and unstoppable god who is imprisoned by the Shazam gang - until the world needs him again 5,000 years later. His name? Black Adam!
Yes, it's not as easily digestible as the name Black Adam, as that's a title that Dwayne Johnson's monotone anti-hero only earns towards the end of the film, and the path to get there is a blunt one. Very blunt. Warner Bros. is going for a more atypical mantle bearer here who advocates violence as a solution to the world's problems, and so anyone who likes heroes who aren't afraid to rip their opponents to shreds to get things done will find some fun sequences here, with Black Adam unabashedly ripping limbs and electrocuting his enemies into skeletons. A few fun anti-hero moments, however, don't save Black Adam from being a CGI-ridden mess that takes itself far too seriously for the light-hearted humour to work.
The film is as loud and action-packed as it is echoingly empty, with drawn-out action sequences and heavy exposition dialogue filling out a very flimsy origin story that never knows what it wants to be. It begins as a mythical tale, then transitions into a Tomb Raider adventure, and then turns into a very confused comic book adventure with neither direction nor substance. If anything, Black Adam is a painful reminder of how unimaginative and tedious this superhero craze has become in recent years.
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Black Adam may also be the ugliest film I've seen this year, bombarding the viewer with sprawling computer effects and production design that's bland, generic and uninspired. Above all, though, Black Adam is cloyingly dull. It was all so dull that during several of the film's action sequences I zoned out, with my mind drifting to everyday chores that were clearly more thought-provoking than watching Johnson's immortal muscle mountain destroy rivals for the hundredth time.
The only thing I felt worked in the film was the introduction of the Justice Society, a band of oddball superheroes who, unlike Black Adam, want to solve problems in a far more peaceful way. Not that the film needed more characters in an already cluttered plot, but I did like that these individuals momentarily became the film's antagonists when Kahndaq's inhabitants turn on the super team and embrace Black Adam's brutal approach. It felt reasonably fresh that the obvious heroes became the obvious interlopers in Kahndaq's eyes, and I had hoped the screenwriters could spin on that idea. Unfortunately, this doesn't last very long, as the filmmakers badly tuck in a beefier archvillain towards the final act, something that now feels like a mandatory box to check off in superhero movies.
Black Adam was, as expected, one in a long line of comic book travesties pumped out of the movie factory to compete against the comic book rival's cinematic universe, and while the post-credits scene may give the more die-hard DCEU fans something to pine for, the superhero hysteria feels more taxing than ever. Like the title character's actor, Black Adam wants to flex his movie muscles every chance he gets, but the filmmakers forgot to give the viewer some humanity to cling to amidst the messy CGI tornado.