After several years of development, the Dwayne Johnson-led Black Adam finally arrives in theaters with the promise that the hierarchy of power in the DCEU will change as well as mark the beginning of a new era for the franchise. After a long wait and tease, is the newest entry in the DCEU actually worth watching?
Is Black Adam Worth Watching?
Dwayne Johnson has been attached to the role for several years at this point, going all the way back to 2007 when he first expressed his interest to play the role. At that time, Johnson was coming off a successful wrestling career and he is setting up a movie career where, as we all know now, he ended up becoming successful as well. Perhaps more than what everyone anticipated.
Now, it's 2022, and Johnson is now considered one of the biggest movie stars (if not the number one) on the planet and he is finally starring in a comic book movie, which is arguably the most dominant genre in theaters today. Considering the current state of the DCEU, he also has the responsibility to reinvigorate the franchise by introducing the newest antihero.
For months, Johnson has repeatedly claimed that the film will change the hierarchy of power in the DCEU. After all, Black Adam's superpowers can rival almost all heroes in the DC Universe and the actor has also publicly expressed his interest in facing off against the most powerful of them all, Superman.
After several years of waiting and teasing about how this will mark a new era of the DCEU franchise, is the wait all worth it? Did Johnson make a great first impression on the role? Will this save the DCEU? Most importantly, is it a good movie? For the most part, yes although it is not without some flaws which I will get to in a second.
The film is pretty entertaining. It delivered a lot of action spectacle that the general audience will certainly enjoy and Johnson used his movie star charisma to make this a wonderful theatrical experience. In addition, he is terrific in the role and made a tremendous first impression. In fact, even though he kills a lot of people, you will still root for him to succeed and become the DCEU's newest hope.
The action sequences were also well-crafted and thrilling. In the basic rule of good filmmaking when it comes to a fighting scene, they were able to establish the geography very well and gave us an immersive battle that will put you at the edge of your seat. In other words, they were pretty neat and slick.
The Justice Society of America also gave a great first impression and you can't help but want more than what they showed. Aldis Hodge is fantastic as Hawkman and he certainly rivaled Johnson on-screen in several moments. Noah Centineo and Quintessa Swindell were also great although I wish they'd done more than just being on the side.
However, the MVP here is clearly Pierce Brosnan, who plays Doctor Fate. It's hard to explain why his performance is terrific in this film. I would say that his on-screen presence reminds me of his days as James Bond. Every time he appears, even in moments where he has to do nothing, he still does a lot of acting and you can't help but love his character thanks to his magnetic presence.
As I've mentioned, the film is not without its flaws. Most of them can be pointed out in the writing itself. If they refined the script more, the film would definitely be way better. With what they ended up presenting, the film felt messier with a lot of exposition that they didn't give room to breathe in and some of the motivations needed more clarity in order to make the characters more layered.
The humor also didn't work for me most of the time. They tried to establish Centineo's Atom Smasher as the comic relief, but the jokes fell flat and it didn't feel natural in some of the moments. Also, there was a lack of exploration of Black Adam's fish-out-of-water situation, something that I wish that expounded more before they go full-force with their action.
The world-building that they established wasn't as defined as I hoped it would be. While there is some geopolitical intrigue in its setting that is reminiscent of the real-life happenings in the Middle East, it wasn't fully explored at the end. It also has some interesting views on violence that they didn't ultimately explore even further as well.
The villain is probably the weakest part of the film. While Marwan Kenzari gave a solid performance as Ishmael Gregor/Sabbac, the character was one-dimensional and, even though he's a larger-than-life threat, there isn't any stake and you don't feel like Black Adam is in actual peril during their battle.
As for its contribution to the DCEU, this is the part where I get slightly conflicted. The film firmly established that the Justice League heroes that we know exist, but with the appearance of the Justice Society of America, there is confusion about how they all co-exist at the same time and how they participate when there are conflicts in different parts of the world. It's interesting to see if there's more clarity to that in the future.
Perhaps the moment that everyone will talk about is the post-credits scene. There is a chance that you are already familiar with it at this point, but I will keep it under wraps here for the sake of this spoiler-free review. All that needs to be said is it sets up an exciting path for the future of the DCEU.
Overall, despite all the flaws, the film is still solid. It is worth watching because of the experience of seeing all the spectacle on the big screen and it has all the entertainment value that you will find in a film like this. It will also make you excited for the future of the DCEU with what they established.
DCEU's Black Adam is currently in theaters.