Black Adam – Film Review

Black Adam has been one of the most anticipated films of 2022.

However, given the history of hits and misses from the DC Extended Universe, I was cautious. The only thing that was keeping me hanging was Dwayne Johnson in the titular role as Black Adam. Johnson has had more hit films than misses and even in the films that were no good, I still enjoyed his role within them. So, is the addition of Dwayne Johnson to the DCEU a recipe for success? Well, I think it is, because Black Adam gets a big tick from me!

Beginning some 5,000 years ago in ancient Kahndaq, Teth-Adams is a slave, mining for the super rare mineral, Eternium. Teth-Adam stands up against his oppressors and the Egyptian gods bestow upon him the power of the gods to free the people. Cut to present day and not much has changed in Kahndaq. The locals are still living in fear, however this time they are oppressed by a tyrannical military organisation. Teth-Adam makes a return and immediately draws the attention of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) and the Justice Society of America. The group of heroes are sent in to put a stop to the destruction. But with Kahndaq locals Isis (Sarah Shahi) and her son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) by his side, they discover there is more to Teth-Adam than they first thought.

Not since the original Wonder Woman and the Snyder Cut of Justice League has a DC film entertained me as much as Black Adam did. I am unsure if this is because I have been craving an anti-hero that I can get behind in the DCEU, or the fact the other films in the franchise have just fallen short. Sure, we’ve had the two Suicide Squad films that lean into the anti-hero space, but this is the first film in the franchise of the anti-hero aspect where I actually empathised with the feelings of the main character. I understood Teth-Adam’s rage and his ‘destroy first ask no questions’ attitude. If anything, I felt that the ‘heroes’ of this film were the real villains and this had me siding with Teth-Adam even more.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who recently worked with Johnson on Jungle Cruise, has packed this film full of big action sequences. The deep and powerful score from Lorne Balfe in conjunction with the brilliant cinematography from Lawrence Sher, all helped solidify Teth-Adam as the almighty powerful god that is afraid of no one. All these components, along with the incredibly effective special effects, have created the dark and powerful anti-hero that I have been searching for.

The film is also the first introduction of the Justice Society of America to the film franchise consisting of Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate, Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone, and Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher. All of whom were great in their respective roles, but it was Brosnan and Hodge that stood out for me. Hodges portrayal of Hawkman’s arrogance and righteousness really had me hating the hero for most of the film. Brosnan really delivered as the tormented soul who has seen the inevitable fate of those that he cares for and being unable to do anything about it.

Sarah Shahi is great in the role of Isis, the civilian hero that is risking her life daily to free her people. Equally as impressive is Bodhi Sabongui as her on screen son, Amon. But the clear winner in this entire film is of course, Dwayne Johnson as Teth-Adam/Black Adam. It was extremely refreshing seeing Johnson portray a character that is not a clean-cut hero. I could tell that Johnson was having the best time bringing out his ‘bad’ side, even if it was for a greater good.

His classic stoic persona fits the mould of an anti-hero perfectly. Johnson himself even asked to become the character, sighting in an interview that he felt connected to the Black Adam on many levels. It is safe to say that Dwayne Johnson is perfect as Black Adam. I also don’t think that anyone could pull off that black suit better than him. Because damn! I knew he was ripped, but Johnson really stepped it up a gear for this one!

There are so many comic book films out there now and it is hard becoming increasingly harder to be unique whilst still trying to fill the proverbial cake with enough sugar to get audiences excited. Yes, there are ingredients of Black Adam that I have seen in many superhero films over the years. And yes, they mostly all end the same way, there is no denying this.

Many will say that Dwayne Johnson is the only drawcard for this film, but I want to challenge you and say that Black Adam is one of the better anti-hero films that I have seen in a long time. It is also one of the better DCEU films I have seen too. Whilst there are some tiny critical points like the slight overuse of slow-motion action sequences, there was more to like than dislike about Black Adam.

Black Adam is an action-packed anti-hero story that deserves to be seen in cinemas and we need more stories out there about those that aren’t entirely good or evil, mostly because life is more complicated than that. Do not bide your time and wait for it to hit a streaming service, because I can guarantee you that you will not enjoy it as much, as this film is made to be seen on the big screen.

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