Movie Review: Black Adam
The last few DC universe movies had been disappointments to me. So I wasn't hopeful when I decided to see this one. But I figured that The Rock might bring something to it, and the previews looked promising. Unfortunately, Black Adam turned out to be a sloppy mess.
As you saw in the previews, we have this vastly powerful character who has been asleep for 5,000 years and is a generally disagreeable fellow. He gets woken up and we have to wonder whose side he's on. There's a lot to work with there. So I figured they couldn't go too far wrong. I didn't expect brilliance, but I didn't even get the typical mediocre superhero movie.
First, there's the setup. There's a fictional Middle Eastern country with some cool mineral that everybody wants. It's being exploited by an evil multinational company that makes billions while the downtrodden people starve. The company has a free hand in the little nation-state, erecting armed checkpoints wherever they like. In a sideways way, they are invoking the Palestinian refugee situation. There is even a scene where the main female character bitches out the would-be heroes for showing up when they did. She rails at them for a minute or two for not giving a crap about the plight of her people until they want something. It gets really political for a minute. Then it's back to the tongue-in-cheek tone we're accustomed to. The movie can't decide on a tone. It wobbles from farce to serious political commentary and generally all over the place.
Then there's the sloppy plotting. It drove me crazy. The super-secret blessed 5,000-year-old crown of muckety-muck is sitting inside a mountain--with an open ceiling to the sky--where anyone could walk in and find it (but hasn't in 5,000 years). At another point, Black Adam is trapped in some kind of suspended animation pod (by the 'good' guys), and magically wakes up when needed and can pull out his respirator. Even better, he doesn't just fly off to save the day. Instead, he fights and almost gets destroyed in the process. Ostensibly these movie makers thought that was a cool bit of drama. It hit me like one of the dumbest sequences put into a wide-release movie. The movie is full of that kind of nonsensical plotting. Guess what word Black Adam has to utter to relinquish his powers? Shazam. I'm serious. It's painful.
Back to the tone. They actually have Black Adam walk through masonry walls several times instead of using doors. I think the idea was that he was a sort of newborn naïf that didn't understand our modern world although the flashbacks make it clear he came from a world with doors. And wouldn't we all expect the very smart fellow to get the idea after the first time? It's just the kind of utterly stupid humor they drop in all over the place when they aren't trying to convince you that the fate of the world is at stake.
All in all, the logical inconsistencies make this a movie I couldn't immerse myself into--just go with it. Then when you get the tone wobbling between juvenile shenanigans and world-ending danger, it turns the movie into an odd presentation. It's something, but I didn't find it engaging or entertaining.
Let's say that's all fine to you. The tone wobbles are fun to you. The logical nits are just noise in what's a great plot. The setup isn't political pandering. Say that all works for you. At the end, the woman commanding the superhero team calls in Superman to talk to Black Adam. Seriously. We go through all this artificially tense insipid plot only to find out that Superman was a phone call away. He could have ended the whole affair in seconds, literally.
The one bright spot in this film was Pierce Brosnan. His performance was strong and his character arc was engaging. So, yes, this movie is utter garbage, but in that stinky little pile is some great work from him.
If you have to watch this movie, don't do it sober.
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