“Black Adam” Strikes Lightning With Its Solid Lead and Action Sequences Despite Poor Character Writing

5 mins read

WARNING: Black Adam spoilers ahead.

Two things about Jauma Collet-Serra’s Black Adam deserving of admiration were the performances of Dwayne Johnson as Teth-Adam/Black Adam and the action sequences. It was refreshing to see Johnson portray a dramatic and tormented individual while still putting his signature charm and charisma into his performance. Even though some reviewers felt that all the audience can see when watching the film is ‘Dwayne roided up acting like Dwayne’ I felt that the gravitas in Johnson’s performance allowed Black Adam to be a more engaging character. Additionally, the seriousness in Johnson’s performance never felt over the top as Teth-Adam still conveyed plenty of humor and his overall presence also lent the film a sense of epicness.

In addition to Johnson’s performance, the action sequences in this film were also a highlight thanks to how intense and visually stunning each of the sequences was. Black Adam’s first battle with the criminal organization known as the Intergang during the first half-hour of the film was extremely intense, especially for a film that is rated PG-13, as said scene showed Black Adam electrocuting a soldier until he became a pile of bones. The scene also shows Black Adam using his electrokinesis and super-speed abilities to blow up the Intergang’s choppers and electrocute the other soldiers with one of the soldiers having part of their arm severed by him and another due to Black Adam shoving an active grenade in his mouth.

Another action sequence that especially impressed me was when Kent Nelson/Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), a member of the team of superheroes known as the Justice Society of America, battled Black Adam by using his magic powers to duplicate himself to overpower Black Adam. Even though I have already seen a battle involving duplication before in Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War, when Doctor Strange fought Thanos, I’m still impressed with how the computer-generated imagery used for Fate’s duplicates made it almost look like multiple actors were wearing Doctor Fate costumes. 

As enjoyable as Johnson’s performance and the intensity and visuals in the action sequences were, two key characters, Maxine Hunkel/Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) and Albert Rothstein/Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) felt underdeveloped. All I knew about them is what their powers were and how Atom Smasher was the clumsy goofball of the team and Cyclone was the team’s technology genius. While critic Mike McGranaghan of The Aisle Seat, praised Atom Smasher and Cyclone for offering ‘heroics and amusing comedy breaks,’ I think that there should have been moments where the film would dive deep into any dilemmas that Atom Smasher and Cyclone have with being superheroes as it would make them more fleshed out. After all, they were the youngest members of the Justice Society and therefore, did not have their powers as long as Doctor Fate and Carter Hall/Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), the leader of the Justice Society, did. 

I also wish that the character, Amon Tomaz (Bodhi Sabongui), was given more of a personality outside of just being Black Adam’s annoying kid sidekick who admired superheroes and superhero-related tropes like how they normally have catchphrases. Not only did having this specific quality make Tomaz feel derivative of Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) from David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! (another character from a DC Extended Universe film), but it also made the film’s attempt at satire on superhero fandom feel on the nose. While some appreciated Tomaz for teaching Black Adam ‘the value of helping others,’ all Tomaz usually did in this film was run away whenever he was confronted by Intergang soldiers or get captured by them, thus making him the one that Black Adam needs to save. He never threw a single punch! 

All in all, I would have to give Black Adam a 6/10.

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