Combustible Celluloid Review - Black Adam (2022), Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani , Jaume Collet-Serra, Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Quintessa Swindell, Mo Amer, Bodhi Sabongui, Pierce Brosnan, Viola Davis, Henry Winkler
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With: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Quintessa Swindell, Mo Amer, Bodhi Sabongui, Pierce Brosnan, Viola Davis, Henry Winkler
Written by: Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language
Running Time: 125
Date: 10/21/2022
IMDB

Black Adam (2022)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Shaz-Slam

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Decked out with occasional themes of what it means to be heroic or villainous, with shades of gray in-between, the latest superhero movie Black Adam collapses into a boring bash-fest, with barely any time to breathe.

Five thousand years ago, the city of Kahndaq is ruled by a tyrant who works to build a magical crown that will give him great powers. A boy begins the spark of rebellion, and just as the tyrant is about to don the crown, the boy is given the powers of Shazam! to save the day. In the present day, the crown re-surfaces, and Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson) is summoned once again. But, rather than a hero, he appears to be a killer, dispatching everyone who tries to get in his way.

The crown temporarily ends up in the hands of resistance fighter Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), whose rebellious son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) believes that Teth-Adam can be the city's hero. Meanwhile, the Justice Society — comprised of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) — have been called in to deal with what they see as a threat. But a bigger threat is on the horizon.

Like many of the other villain-as-protagonist movies, ranging from Venom and Morbius to Maleficent and Cruella, Black Adam takes the opportunity to explore such questions as: Who decides who the good guy is? Or: Is it OK to hurt people if some good comes out of it? Unfortunately, once it asks those questions, it forgets all about them as the characters whiz around the screen, hammering away at one another and any solid object that happens to be in the way. In this movie, bodies and debris soar far more frequently than the spirits of the viewers.

It's safe to guess that the majority of Black Adam's running time consists of fights, chases or battles, and other sections are only blocky exposition. Much is made of what's supposed to be a tender friendship between Hawkman and Dr. Fate, but we never feel this; it's only told to us through dialogue and goopy music, in the few rare moments between punches. The same goes for a sweet friendship/romance between Cyclone and Atom Smasher; it's just too scarce and fragmented to amount to much.

Even the human characters are cookie cutters, from the generic movie "kid" to the lovably comic uncle, rotund and ridiculous. As far as Black Adam goes, he's so one-note and grumpy all the time that we never really learn who he is or what he wants to be, and that question is ultimately less intriguing than it is sheerly uninteresting.

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