I think I’ve made my point of view on the current state of the DC universe pretty clear. It’s a mess. As I’m writing this review I have found out James Gunn (Director of The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy), along with his producing partner Peter Safran, after Walter Hamada left earlier this week, which actually gives the DC universe some hope for me. But at the moment we have Black Adam, the first DC universe film since Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (As The Batman is clearly in its own universe). The film that Dwayne Johnson has been trying to get off and running for well over a decade but has struggled and been delayed after delayed but it has finally arrived.
Black Adam is freed from his tomb having been buried for thousands of years. When a threat arises that forces Black Adam to reap his justice onto the people who want to rule his nation, while dealing with the Justice Society, a team of heroes who think Black Adam is a threat.
I can’t say I was surprised to see that this film was getting middling reviews at best, and no I don’t think of that as critics just hating on DC for the sake of it, because I still don’t think DC know what they’re doing.
I’ve never been a fan of Villain origin films that try to paint them in a good light. I don’t really know where this phase started, was it Venom? Because I don’t think Venom was the huge critical success and I don’t think it really won over fans either. I will give credit to this film and Dwayne Johnson for his performance, which makes this one of the more interesting Villain films. It does the right thing and never tries to justify his actions of killing people, it’s played straight and doesn’t have him cracking a Deadpool-esque joke every few minutes (not from Black Adam himself anyway). The moments that work for me the most in fact is when the film takes itself seriously. I can’t think of one joke that particularly landed at all, with them feeling like the film was originally too dark for some so they had to cram in some sense of humour.
The Justice Society team is a mixed bag. I really enjoyed Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan in their roles as Hawkman and Doctor Fate. They both nail the tone perfectly and give the film a bit of class and genuinely seem like they want to be there. As for Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo, I feel like they both do a good enough job, but as they are both new people to the team, they crowd each other out a bit, and don’t really feel that useful to the team on the whole. I would’ve happily taken just one of them (I’d probably keep Quintessa Swindell as Cylcone) and replaced them with someone more experienced as a hero rather than what feels like they literally just wanted a bit of a Deadpool on the team.
The visual effects are quite inconsistent. I found myself seeing the villain of the film looking a bit too video game like at times, inconsistent green screen backgrounds and a couple of floating heads on CGI bodies. But the effects for characters powers generally looked pretty good from Hawkman’s wings, Cylcone’s wind and Black Adam’s Superman-esque powers.
I also have to point out DC having weird music choices for scenes that don’t fit and feel jarring when a random song comes out for a sequence and doesn’t add anything.
Overall, Black Adam has a messy tone, which suffers from what feels like reshoots and rewrites to make the film lighter when it doesn’t need it. DC are still very clearly unsure about what to do. The film is strongest focusing on the darker side of the character and the more serious moments. Some decent performances from a strong cast, might give a glimmer of hope for the future of what is to come with this universe now under new leadership.
What did you think of Black Adam?
I’m probably not going to do a spoiler review of this, but might cover the main big spoiler in a different post. So to keep up to date with my latest reviews and posts follow me on social media via the buttons below!