Johnson’s new movie doesn’t rock


Warner Bros.

Dylan Budd, Sports Editor

A new era of superheroes has begun for DC, starting with the project “Black Adam”, released on Oct. 21.

Originally appearing in a 1945 comic, Black Adam is the first mortal to be given the powers of Shazam. These powers corrupt the character, and he is given the name after destroying much of Ancient Egypt. Black Adam is generally the arch nemesis of superhero Shazam.

The movie’s prologue begins by telling the legend of Teth-Adam, a rebellious slave in the fictional city of Kahndaq, regarded as the first human civilization. Teth-Adam is killed for his defiance, but is reborn by the council of wizards, who gives him godly levels of power including flight, speed, durability, strength, wisdom and courage.

Teth-Adam, according to legend, uses these powers to take down the corrupt King Anh-Kot in his pursuit for the crown of Sabbac, which  grants invincibility to its user. Afterwards, he  buries the crown and himself underground in Kahndaq, only to return when the city needs him most.

Fast forward 5,000 years into modern-day when  an archaeologist (Sarah Shahi) is nearly killed  by the corrupt authority known as the Intergang  after finding  the tomb and crown. Teth-Adam emerges from the tomb and brutally kills all of the soldiers while “Paint It, Black” by The Rolling Stones plays.

Thus begins the transformation from villain to anti-hero, learning the power of words and teamwork while also discovering various comedic devices like sarcasm and catchphrases. Teth-Adam must reluctantly team up with the Justice Society, a group of superheroes meant to bring peace to Kahndaq, led by Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan).

Much of the cast is relatively inexperienced, excluding shining performances by notable actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“Fast and Furious”) and Brosnan. This caused some generic performances, as Justice Society characters like Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) didn’t contribute to the plot, but the group was saved by Johnson’s uncanny acting abilities and Brosnan’s idiosyncratic swagger that reminds viewers why he was cast as James Bond.

Hodge also gave a great performance as  Hawkman, the cunning leader of the Justice Society. Hodge was able to stand on his own to battle Johnson for the limelight in scenes where the two interacted with each other, which is no small feat. Additionally, he was able to infuse a bit of humor at times to break up the dark drama.

Another highlight of the film was through Black Adam’s development arc. In a break from traditional hero characteristics, he starts out as a vicious murderer who considers himself above everybody else, even constantly flying above the people for symbolism. As the team needs to discern if he is a threat to the world, Black Adam tries to figure out his place in it. 

Although praise should go to the producers for Teth-Adam’s story, much of the credit goes to Johnson. His ability to masterfully play a desperate slave, a stoic warrior, a rageful villian and valiant savior all together is why he’s such a popular actor today. 

The movie’s cultural symbolism is noticeable as well. For example, the son of the archaeologist, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui), has his bedroom covered with posters and figurines of fellow DC characters in the Justice League. Each time Teth-Adam is in the room, the decorations get destroyed, further showcasing Black Adam’s unorthodox style of heroism.

The only point of criticism from the film is in the countless clichés, such as an ancient legend adapting to the modern world, CGI fight scenes and the chase towards some object of power. The overall plot is convoluted at times, and like every superhero movie, there always is forced content that may seem cool as a kid, but is awful as an adult. But even though some dialogue was expected to be cheesy, like “I kneel before no one”, and “I never said I was a hero”, an A-list star like Johnson can make even a cringe-inducing line sound awesome.

“Black Adam” is a solid start to usher in a new wave of DC superheroes, and fans are excited to see what the future holds for the new character. 

The movie has a runtime of 2 hours and 4 minutes. 

Rating: 3/5

Warner Bros.