2.5 out of 5
If we believe all the stories, Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson has been wanting to develop Black Adam into a film for the last 15 years. One might think that given that period of time a decent script might have emerged. Putting that aside, I suspect the success of Black Panther in the Marcel Cinematic Universe, togerher with Johnson's bankability as a film star made this a "sure thing" for the execs at DC. Johnson is a really good sccreen presence in Black Adam - it's just a pity that no one else is. But, before I carp too much, where are we and what is going on?
Briefly, in the ancient city of Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods byt the same wizards who gave Shazam hi powers. In fact he initiaties them the same way by saying "Shazam". After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned by the same wizards. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. In a redundant sub-plot some evil people are trying to get a crown made of "eternium" - think Lord of the Rings' ring of power. In the course of an incident to get the crown, Black Adam is freed from his eternal prison and now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.
The Justice Society? But we only just heard about the Justice League - what's going on? The Justice Society of America was a team of superheros that predates Avengers and even Justice League. In fact, it is the oldest superhero team in comics, first appearing in the misty days of American comics in early 1940s. The Justice League was a successor of the Justice Society of America. Doctor Fate, Hourman, the Spectre, Sandman, Atom, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman were the original members of JSA, and some of them appear in Black Adam.
Johnson is supported by Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher; our own Pierce Brosnan as the dazzling Dr. Fate; Aldis Hodge leads the Justice Society as Hawkman; Quintessa Swindell portrays the tornado-based hero Cyclone, and Sarah Shahi plays Adrianna Tomaz. Marwan Kenzari stars as the film's big bad, Sabbac, who Black Adam has to defeat.
But is it any good? To be honest, it's poor. Even Johnson's impressive screen presence can't quite carry it and the highlight for me was the (no longer secret) appearance of Henry Cavill as Superman in a post-credit scene. Cavill had his issues with DC and Warner Brothers but such is the power of Johnson in Hollywood he got it sorted. Johnson is good but the film is 60% exposition, 35% explosions and 5% Johnson smouldering. Pierce Brosnan is surprisingly good as Doctor Fate.
While it might not be quite on the level of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, Richard Donner’s Superman, or any of Snyder’s outings, at the end of the day, Johnson did what he could to follow through on his wish to position his favorite DC character as a cinematic lead. The film does open up a new landscape for DC and will hopefully present a much neeed challenge to the MCU.