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'Black Adam' Review

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October 21, 2022
Hunter Friesen
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What do you get when you take Dwayne Johnson, Hollywood’s most formulaic leading man, and a superhero movie, Hollywood’s most formulaic genre, and mix them together? That’s right! You get one of the most formulaic, forgettable, ugly, unnecessary, unfunny, and tiring movies of the year. 

At this point, I have to give the DC Extended Universe some credit because it takes some true skill to be this consistently bad on such a large scale. Universal Studios at least had the humility to abandon their Dark Universe after the catastrophe that was The Mummy. But Warner Brothers has chugged along with the DCEU, hitting every obstacle on their way to the finish line, which they seem to be pushing further away with each new film.

Let’s get this over with, shall we? Our story opens in the exposition-filled land of ancient Kahndaq, a fictional Middle Eastern country where everything shines through an oppressive gray filter. The people are enslaved by their tyrannical king, who is hellbent on crafting the MacGuffin known as the Crown of Sabbac, which will give him the powers of the underworld. After a revolt is led against him, the mad ruler kills all that he deems a threat, which includes Teth-Adam (Johnson) and his family. 

We fast-forward 5,000 years later and are introduced to Adrianna, an archaeologist trying to find the lost crown so that it won’t fall into the wrong hands. After her mission is ambushed, she awakens Teth-Adam, whose life was spared by the all-powerful wizards of Shazam!, who also bestowed upon him godlike powers. Disoriented after his slumber, Teth-Adam unleashes his revenge, which attracts the attention of The Justice Society, led by Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan).

Black Adam is the closest that a superhero movie has come to a Godzilla movie, as nearly 80% of the runtime is all-powerful beings beating the crap out of each other. But unlike Adam Wingard, who was able to bring some ingenuity to the guilty-pleasure that was Godzilla vs. Kong, director Jaume Collet-Serra restricts the action to playing out the same way each time. Big hits are landed, and the theater shakes from the sound effects, but nothing is actually felt.

And don’t get me started on the “humor.” On second thought, let’s get into it. Outside of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, the DCEU is not known for having a funny bone. And even with that low bar, Black Adam sinks to the bottom with dozens of lame attempts to lighten the mood. Adrianna’s son, Amon (played by the way too eager Bodhi Sabongui), acts as the John Connor to Black Adam’s T-800, guiding him through this new age of heroes and villains. Two of those new heroes are Atom Smasher and Cyclone, whose personalities get brushed under the rug in favor of bad quips.

To be honest, I’ve lost track of who’s in and who’s out, and what is actually going on in the DCEU. It’s just a bunch of noise, eroding my brain two hours at a time. Black Adam seems to have done the most damage because it’s going to take me a long time to recover from this dreck. For the love of god, burn it all down.

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