Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Black Adam finally brings Dwayne Johnson to the big screen as Teth-Adam/Black Adam in the SHAZAM! spin off. The film also stars Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Quintessa Swindell, Mo Amer, Bodhi Sabongui, and Pierce Brosnan but the question remains – in a DCEU filled with inconsistency – where does Black Adam stand?
Well, we open way back in 2600 BC in the country of Kahndaq, where the evil king of Kahndaq, Ahk-Ton, creates the Crown of Sabbac – a crown of powerful evil that empowers whoever wears it. A young slave boy (Jalon Christian) is then given the powers of Shazam by the Council of Wizards, transforming him into Kahndaq’s heroic champion SHAZAM! who kills Ahk-Ton and ends his reign!
Skipping to Kahndaq in the present day, it is revealed that the international terrorist group Intergang are in full control of the country imposing their will as they please. Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) is a university professor in Archaeology, mother, and resistance fighter who teams with her brother Karim (Mohammed Amer) and their colleagues Samir (James Cusati-Moyer) and Ishmael (Marwan Kenzari). Her son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) is often nearby getting into mischief despite being told to stay away.
Adrianna believes she has tracked down the Crown of Sabbac and goes with her team to collect it. As she obtains the crown with her team, they are ambushed by Intergang who kill Samir. Just as all is lost Adrianna spots an incantation on the cave floor that awakens Teth-Adam, whom she believes, thanks to folklore stories passed down from generation to generation, to be Kahndaq’s champion. Sure enough, Adam awakens and destroys Intergang’s army with little effort!
Adam’s actions alert US government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) who deems Adam a threat and contacts the Justice Society – asking them to bring Adam into custody. This allows us to meet Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) for the first time in the DCEU. We also should send a shout out to Henry Winkler for his cameo as Al Pratt the original Atom and uncle of Atom Smasher.
Adrianna soon learns that Adam was not a saviour who was entombed that she set free, but instead was a madman who was imprisoned!
Now let’s be clear, this is a fun action film that has some heart and storyline that can entertain you. A huge step forward from the depression the Snyderverse spread. Johnson seems intent on keeping Black Adam an anti-hero and moving forwards that would be the best thing for him. The mid-credits meeting with Superman hints at what is to come with that. Here though, we get big Michael Bay like explosions and action scenes we have seen before (Fox’s Quicksilver moments especially) but in this case they have tried to make them grander. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not, and it can get a bit repetitive.
For me the true stars of the film are Adrianna Tomaz and Bodhi Sabongui. Tehre mother and son relationship impacts on all they meet. Sabongui’s relationship with Adam is a strong offshoot of this. This strong dynamic carries the film and I look forward to how Tomaz develops in further instalments especially when looking at what happens to her comic book counterpart.
Verdict: 6/10. A strong fun movie that will entertain but unfortunately becomes too predictable. A solid start for Black Adam to build on though and I look forward to the next instalment.