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‘Black Adam’ – Review

‘Black Adam’ – Review


The hierarchy of the DCEU is about to change as Hollywood megastar Dwayne Johnson steps up as the mighty man in black in Black Adam, a colossal superhero epic that makes cinemas shake with its forceful narrative, and audiences will be in for a rush thanks to this new anti-hero.

In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.

Fifteen years ago a casting announcement went out that burgeoning A-list actor Dwayne Johnson would take on the character of the mighty Black Adam. Straddling the line between hero and villain, Black Adam is one of DC Comics’ most intriguing characters, and to see that Johnson would be donning his mantle and channelling the lightning was an incredibly exciting proposition. What followed in the midst of the fanfare was a lot of blood, sweat and determination, along with many false starts and failed beginnings, but Johnson held true and now with his partners at Warner Brothers Pictures, and alongside director Jaume Collet-Serra, Johnson is able to realise the power and might of Black Adam. And this picture will have you amped.

The DCEU finds a bold new direction courtesy of filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra, who has long shared a unique partnership with Johnson and the two are ready to transform the DCEU for fans. With its epic scale and colossal narrative, Collet-Serra fills every single part of the cinema canvas as he introduces audiences to Black Adam, the Justice Society of America and the mythical city of Kahndaq. There’s an edginess to Black Adam, and the character’s routes as an anti-hero make this film a much more intense cinematic experience. Following no rules but his own, Johnson’s Black Adam is willing to expense justice with extreme prejudice, and Collet-Serra uses this space to explore how a villain can become a champion. Watching Black Adam is a different experience altogether for fans of the DCEU and this is a fresh and exciting take on a promising new chapter within this burgeoning superhero canvas.

Leading from the front in Black Adam is Dwayne Johnson. And this is the role he’s been waiting to play his whole life. Johnson has discussed how Black Adam is the most important project of his entire career, and his fifteen-year journey to bring the character to life shows in the passion, grit and determination that he brings to this performance. As Black Adam, Johnson is a physical force of extreme power and he cuts a very significant presence as the infamous anti-hero. Adapting to the modern-day atmosphere of Kahndaq, and the presence of the sinister Inter-Gang, Johnson’s Black Adam is a mixture of serious superheroics, along with finding that subtle comedic edge that Johnson does so perfectly. Johnson puts everything of himself into this performance as Black Adam and proves why he’s the hardest worker in the room.

Alongside the presence of the mighty Black Adam, audiences are also introduced to the Justice Society of America or the JSA. Pre-dating the original Justice League, the JSA is the oldest existing superhero team in the world and director Jaume Collet-Serra gives them new energy thanks to a fantastic bit of casting. Stepping in as the leader of the JSA as Carter Hall/Hawkman is Aldis Hodge and he brings a formidable presence as the quick-tempered, yet stoic warrior and he doesn’t hold back in going head-to-head with Johnson’s Black Adam. Standing next to Hodge’s Hawkman is revered thespian Pierce Brosnan who brings a refined elegance and suave, debonair presence as Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate. With his magical powers, and ability to foresee the future, Brosnan is the ‘thinking man’s hero’ as Doctor Fate, and he’s an incredible presence on screen.

While Hawkman and Doctor Fate are the established veterans of the JSA, audiences also meet two new recruits: Quintessa Swindell as Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone and Noah Centineo as Albert “Al” Rothstein/Atom Smasher. Both bring a sense of energy and enthusiasm to their roles and help to establish a mix-up of personalities within the JSA. All of the JSA are given unique powers and abilities that each fit their unique characters. Hodge is an in-your-face brawler as Hawkman, while Brosnan’s Doctor Fate takes on the role of a strategist and uses his celestial powers from afar. Swindell’s aero-kinesis abilities are handled with grace and dexterity, and she moves like a ballerina in flow.  Then there’s Centino who’s still getting used to his size and strength and he brings in a few hi-jinks along the way. The JSA certainly stand out on their own, and they’re a fantastic new addition to this refreshed DCEU.

Black Adam delivers an immense scale and power in its presentation and it stands apart from many other comic book tentpole movies. Taking inspiration from ancient mythology and the long-standing continuity of the DC Universe, the experience of watching Black Adam almost feels akin to watching a historical epic such as Gladiator or Troy. There’s a grandeur and power to the mighty city of Kahndaq, and this pairing of the ancient and the technological makes for an incredibly interesting watch. The visual spectacle is also matched by the intensity of the film’s action set pieces and they’re monumental to behold. Dwayne Johnson is an untapped source of raw power driven by rage as Black Adam, and he lays down the smackdown. When he strikes the cinema literally quakes, and as a cinematic presentation, Black Adam is best viewed on the biggest screen possible.

A new standard has been set for the DCEU with Black Adam and this picture delivers on every aspect of the film. Narrative, character, design, special effects and score combine to tell a truly epic story, and fans are also treated to a few draw-dropping surprises that will make them sit up and go WHOAA. Dwayne Johnson promised he’d deliver the ultimate anti-hero superhero event, and he absolutely holds true to his promise with Black Adam, and the lightning roars.

Image: Warner Brothers Pictures