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Long-awaited "Black Adam" clumsily lands with a whimper | Arts & Entertainment

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Fifteen years after the casting of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the titular character, “Black Adam” has finally been released. After a seemingly never-ending cycle of appearances being canceled and/or postponed, Johnson finally suits up as Black Adam. The film serves as another entry in the DC Extended Universe while DC attempts to catch up with the ever-popular Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ultimately, the results are extremely mixed throughout the film. “Black Adam” was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and released on Oct. 21, 2022.

“Black Adam” follows the story of a resurrected Black Adam taking on a separate branch of the Justice League, the Justice Society. The Justice Society includes two popular DC characters: Hawkman and Dr. Fate as well as other more obscure characters. Though the overall look of the characters and the action are quite entertaining, that’s about all the film has going for it. Like a majority of films in the superhero genre, the story here is seriously lacking.

All the costumes of the heroes and villains look fantastic. Whether it’s practical costumes or the CGI that enhances them, they genuinely look spectacular on the screen. Black Adam himself, Hawkman and Dr. Fate all look amazing, looking as if they jumped straight out of the pages of a comic. Dr. Fate, in particular, has one of the best character designs in any comic book film to date.

The action is also handled pretty well for the most part. Though I will say that it got less interesting as the film progresses, there are some interesting sequences. Much like fellow DC director, Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel”, “Justice League”), Collet-Serra decided to use a combination of slow-mo footage with normal frame-rate footage while capturing action. I think it works really well showcasing Black Adam’s super-speed and flying ability. The two main action set pieces during the first two acts were done with a surprising amount of style; it was quite enjoyable. In particular, the first time we met Black Adam had some really interesting uses of music synchronized with the action. I do wish, however, that the final third act battle had more flavor; it evolved into a stereotypical comic book CGI-heavy final fight.

Dr. Fate is the clear stand-out in “Black Adam”. As I previously stated, his costume design is genuinely one of the best ever in a comic book film. The way his powers are realized here visually is also incredible. Dr. Fate is essentially DC’s version of Marvel’s Dr. Strange, predating Strange by over 20 years. The way that Dr. Fate looks while creating spells, altering reality around him and duplicating himself is simply fantastic. It’s very apparent that the visual effects team took extra care in creating all the sequences with Dr. Fate, and it pays off immensely. Seasoned actor Pierce Brosnan does an excellent job as Dr. Fate during the dialogue-heavy scenes as well. Overall, he’s an excellent presence in the film and clearly the most experienced actor here.

Johnson does a good enough job acting here. He looks amazing as Black Adam and is clearly the perfect physical casting for the character. Johnson is huge and imposing, truly embodying the character with his appearance. His acting is nothing special, however, it works well enough. I liked his performance in this to Gal Gadot’s in “Wonder Woman.” Neither is giving an incredible performance, however, it works in the context of their respective comic book films.

The character of Black Adam leaves a bit to be desired, however. In the comics, he is typically portrayed as much more ruthless than he is here in the film. I don’t really understand the decision to make him an anti-hero in this besides the fact that Johnson is portraying him and it’s more marketable compared to making him a villain.

The script itself is pretty generic and honestly quite bad at points. For the most part, it’s your typical superhero fare. The biggest mistake the film makes is focusing too much on the human characters and not enough on Black Adam himself. We are asked to follow a family who becomes intertwined with Black Adam through plot conveniences, and they cannot be more gratating. Their characters are shallow, annoying and do nothing to enhance the viewing experience.

Overall, “Black Adam” is exactly what you’d expect from a film from two parts that like to play it safe. Dwayne Johnson and DC ultimately created a fine film that is sure to please fans of DC, comic book films and the Rock. The costumes and action scenes are sure to excite fans of the characters, however, the seriously lacking script and luke-warm portrayal of Black Adam leave a lot to be desired. 5 out of 10.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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