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‘Black Adam’ steals the limelight

The comic-book juggernaut continues with DC entering back into the game… this time with a character that is very fresh and new to the cinema-going audience. That character of course is ‘Black Adam’, a character that has had a couple of false starts with plans originally to bring him into the universe in either ‘Suicide Squad’ or ‘Shazam!’, but now he enters the arena with his very own film – perhaps because one of the world’s biggest stars publicly declared that he wanted to play the role before he was even cast in it.

By David Griffiths

Saturday 22 October 2022, 11:00AM

Dwayne Johnson is ‘Black Adam’ (2022). Image: IMDb

Dwayne Johnson is ‘Black Adam’ (2022). Image: IMDb

That announcement no doubt would have excited DC but perhaps not as much as the hordes of fans online that seemed to celebrate the fact that Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs & Shaw) wanted to play a character that mainly only hardcore comic book fans would know about. Even in the lead-up to this film it felt like a movie that fans were excited about and that excitement is about to go into overdrive when they realise that director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Orphan) has delivered a film that is action-packed, has the right amount of humour and seems to be a fresh new start for the DC universe.

Set in a fictitious North African county of Kahndaq Black Adam sees a gifted historian named Adrianna (Sarah Shahi – Alias) searching for a way to end the oppression that her people have endured for generations. The current oppressors are a group of ruthless warlords known as The Intergang who don’t even show mercy to people like her mischievous son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui – The Baby-Sitters Club), who dreams of the day that his comic book heroes – The Justice League – show up to end the oppression that he endures in his daily life.

Their answers to prayer seemed to have been answered when Adrianna awakens Teth Adam (Johnson), someone whom she believes was an ancient hero who led her ancestors to freedom. Teth Adam instantly starts to fight against The Intergang, so she and Amon are surprised when Amanda Waller (Viola Davis – The Help) sends Dr Fate (Pierce Brosnan – The World Is Not Enough), Hawkman (Aldis Hodge – Straight Outta Compton), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell – Voyagers) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo – The Perfect Date) to either capture or destroy him.

Black Adam is somewhat of a deceptive film, but in a good way. Early you the audience can’t help but feel that the film is not addressing so many of the key questions being raised – such as why has Waller sent members of the Justice Society to take down another hero? It seems frustrating right up until the point that it is a deliberate ploy by the filmmakers to keep the audience guessing… and once that is revealed you realise that Black Adam is smarter than a lot of the other comic book movies out there.

Often these kinds of movies just throw all the information out there for their audience, but here Collet-Serra and his team of screenwriters keep their audience invested in the story by allowing them to ask questions and then delivering the answers in timely and interesting ways. The film even raises some of the questions that a lot of comic book fans have asked over the years – including why does the Justice League seem to rush to the aid of Americans at the drop of a hat but seem to allow other countries to suffer.

In a lot of ways the filmmakers behind this film need to be congratulated. With so many new characters being introduced to the audience for the first time this film could have ended up a mess like The Eternals. But somehow the screenplay here allows the audience to get to know those characters very, very well and once it is established that lives are at risk here you find yourself warming to the characters even faster. There is little doubt that many fans of this film will be going online as soon as the credits roll, demanding stand-alone films for some of the characters introduced here.

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One thing that does become abundantly clear when you are watching the film is that Collet-Serra has well and truly read the room when it comes to what modern-day comic book film lovers want in their movies. You can tell that by a number of ways – first of all he knows how to mix action, drama, characterisation with the right amount of humour. Unlike the recent Thor films, the humour here is not out of place – instead the screenplay allows it to seep through at appropriate times and the result is lines and moments that genuinely make the audience laugh. Likewise he makes the ‘child character’ likable instead of annoying and more importantly asks a lot of the questions that he knows the audience themselves are going to ask.

This is also an extremely well-cast movie. There is never a time when you look at the screen and think that Dwayne Johnson is not Black Adam. Likewise, all actors and actresses fit their roles. Sarah Shahi and Bodhi Sabongui are amazing in their roles and you can only hope that their characters remain in the franchise. Credit must also be paid to Noah Centineo, who steals much of the comedic limelight from his seasoned veteran co-stars – to the point where DC simply has to think about giving him his own film.

The only weakness of Black Adam is that perhaps the ‘big bad’ could have been more memorable, but outside of that this film does very little wrong. The action sequences are brilliantly shot, the characters all work and there is a post-credit scene that is going to make DC fans gasp. Strap in, because Black Adam is going to be loved by those who adore DC right around the globe.

Black Adam is currently screening in Phuket and is rated ‘G’.

3.5/5 Stars

David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus 

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