A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

‘Black Adam’: plenty of CGI, lightning effects and a whole lot of fizzle…

Black Adam is an action fantasy film that centres its focus almost entirely on superior visual effects, sadly at the sacrifice of character development and, well, pretty much everything else.

Adapted from the comic series of the same name, the lead character of Teth-Adam was originally depicted as a supervillain – an ancient Egyptian predecessor of Captain Marvel, who fought his way to modern times to challenge the hero and his Marvel Family associates.

It took DC Warner Bros around 15 years in the making with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson backing the production. Johnson, as Teth-Adam, is a vengeful villainous superhero, however he spends the entire film acting in one note, or should I say, one deadpan, angry scowl.

The two-hour adventure begins in what appears to be an enlightened ancient civilisation called Kahndaq, where a teenager bravely confronts a white soldier from an occupying army. The true villain, Anh-Kot, invades the city and enslaves its people who are forced to mine an all-powerful precious metal which he wields into a crown. His oppressive ruling is challenged by a slave known as Teth-Adam, who has been gifted with superhuman abilities by an ancient order of wizards, so as to balance the power of good versus evil, enabling the citizens’ long overdue revolt. Ironically Teth-Adam cannot control his temper and is hell-bent on revenge for his murdered son, who was imprisoned for 5,000 years, while the legend of the people’s champion lived on.

Fast-forward to contemporary America and a young teen Amon Tomaz (Bodhi Sabongui), in need of assistance working with his mother, archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), is leading a group of freedom fighters to retrieve the powerful crown, the relic of Kahndaq.

Revolting against the vaguely global ‘intergang’, who will do anything to control the Crown, their feuding conflict accidentally releases the 5,000-year-old incarcerated Teth-Adam, who appears confused and disorientated in this foreign world. Amon, who is superhero awe-struck, latches on to Black Adam, somewhat annoyingly, and begs him to join the rebellion (“We could really use a superhero right now”… yawn).

Amanda Waller – head of the Suicide Squad task squad (Viola Davis, blink and her screen time is over) – enlists the Justice Society, a superhero team, somewhat unclear as to why only they alone are tasked to challenge Black Adam, the most powerful force on earth. Headed up by feisty Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and charismatic sorcerer Doctor Fate – played by a cheerfully laidback, and refreshingly appealing Pierce Brosnan. You kind of wish Doctor Fate had gotten more screen time.

In the Justice Society, we meet the rainbow tornado-spinning Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), who certainly provides a visually stunning rainbow slo-mo fight sequence, working alongside the matter-manipulating Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) whose power is, well, to grow bigger and to use brut force. Smasher attempts to steal most of the comic lines which throughout the film are forced, too few, and which mostly fall flat.

Ultimately the film is saturated in computer-generated effects, but for the most part it is predictable and lacks character development. All of which is buried in the genre’s spectacle that ought to have been edited down and less reliant on repetitive gratuitous fight scenes. Might have been nice to see some superheros that don’t take themselves so seriously.

Annette McCubbin


‘Black Adam’ is in cinemas now.

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