Nerdlocker Movie Review: Black Adam


“Revenge is the raging fire that consumes the arsonist.” – Max Lucado

“The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is about to change.”

Is it though?

After fifteen years of incessant posts from Dwayne Johnson about Black Adam coming to the big screen it’s finally happening. So has the Earth crumbled under the weight of DC’s ultimate anti-hero getting his long-awaited debut? I’m both delighted and disappointed to say the Earth will continue on as always, the sun rising and setting on our beautiful blue marble.

Black Adam is one of the better DC movies (not titled The Batman) in a long time but as anyone not suckling at the teat of Zack Snyder knows, that’s not saying a whole lot. The entire existence of this movie feels like one big mistake despite being in development for the better part of two decades. Now to clarify, Dwayne Johnson as a superhero makes complete sense. Just look at him. He’s the first (to my knowledge) actor in the ever-continuing world of superheroes (maybe Cavill?) to not require faux muscles added to his super suit. What you see is 100% grade-A Johnson (phrasing). Through no fault of his own, Mr. Johnson has been at the back burner as one misguided attempt after another came and went achieving absolute mediocrity. Even the elusive, at one time long thought not even real, director’s cut of Justice League got its debut before Black Adam.

What I’m getting at is after all these mistakes, mishaps and at best, decent efforts, Warner Bros. is trying to both, I guess separate themselves from and utilize the stylings of a decade of Snyder. While vowing to move on from this convoluted movie-verse, they now seem to be back stepping a bit and pulling elements from that supposedly rotting universe. This confusion on what they want to do has seeped its way into the veins of the long gestating Black Adam. The results are a long hyped journey of a slave turned god, becoming something that will be forgotten and overshadowed by the release of the next MARVEL movie, which is in November. If all you’re wanting out of this DC paint-by-numbers adventure is mundane, repetitive superhero action, Black Adam will absolutely scratch that itch.

That’s the movie’s biggest weakness, it’s lack of originality. Nothing about this movie is particularly awful and that’s simply because nothing about it stands out. Say what you will about the most recent Halloween Ends movie, the attempt to make it stand out among the rest is commendable. They tried, at the very least. Black Adam is every superhero movie you’ve ever seen. An unlikely lifeform becomes bestowed with powers and is faced with seeking the life of a vengeful presence or the hero of their people. As with any DC movie, they take the most spineless route and turn the anti-hero into a plain, Superman cookie cutter hero. While they try to promise some kind of friction with the likes of Amanda Waller and her A-list rolodex of otherworldly superheroes who apparently owe her a favor, much like this very movie, the next will likely come up short of any promise of something greater on the horizon.

Dwayne Johnson as the titular (not) hero is perfectly fine. He’s large and formidable as expected. But much in the same way Superman is helpless against Kryptonite, Mr. Adam’s greatest weakness is a rare element whose name escapes me at the moment. His entire identity, in the movies at least, seems to be rehashed material collected from numerous other heroes. Shazam’s origins are more interesting and he’s just a kid from Philly. As with most Rock movies, he excels in the action scenes and kind of just exists in the other quieter moments.

And because this is one giant, formulaic mess, it wouldn’t be complete without annoying human characters who must remind the super person of their humanity and become the hero they need. The kid sidekick in this movie made me want to trip him on his skateboard and hope he falls into traffic. He’s front and center for what is easily the most cringey scene of the movie as he attempts to motivate the people of his city to fight back. His voice sounds dubbed and his lack of energy is reminiscent of Jacksonville Jaguar quarterback Trevor Lawrence as he tries to get his team ready for the big game. If you know, you know. Yikes!

This is yet one more example that these early reactions are paid for in advance. There’s no other explanation for it. We all remember the glowing reactions for the most recent Fantastic Four disaster. These so-called rave reviews are not to be taken seriously. It’s marketing for something that is clearly not living up to the hype they are creating with such deceit.

I’m circling at this point. Black Adam is fine. It would be a blast if it were fifteen years ago and superhero movies were just beginning to take over the movie world. But it’s 2022 and we’ve seen every bit of this movie somewhere else. I wanted to believe Mr. Johnson! I really did. As with most of my reactions to DC movies, I’ll end it with a big ol’ oh well.

(I wanted to add something: As I was editing this, I noticed on IMDb that Snyder’s JL is rated higher than The Batman. You Snyder heroes are ridiculous… and delusional.)

Rated PG-13 For: sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language
Runtime: 124 minutes
After Credits Scene: Yes. Mid-credits.
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Pierce Brosnan, Aldis Hodge, Viola Davis
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 7/ Directing: 7/ Visuals: 8
OVERALL: 6 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: No.

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard