A boatneck superhero suit isn’t exactly flattering on Dwayne Johnson, nor is a character who looks like he’s borrowing from others we’ve already seen.
In “Black Adam” there are so many familiar themes and crimefighters you’ll wonder if this isn’t a discount version of the Marvel Universe.
Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) is a clone of Storm; Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan) is another Doctor Strange; Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) is a junior Hulk; and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) is flying in Falcon airspace.
They’re part of the Justice Society of America (no, not the Justice League) who are on the hunt for Black Adam. He’s not exactly a user-friendly power player, but a sullen god who’s called in to help the folks of Kahndaq, a dusty country that’s under the thumb of mercenaries. He’s summoned by Adrianna (Sarah Shahi), a professor who has secrets others will do anything to get – including kidnapping her skateboarding son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui).
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Amon is a huge superhero fan. His bedroom walls are filled with plenty of DC stars and provide what laughs something like this can offer.
Filled with way too much origins content, “Black Adam” has to get the vast majority of viewers up to speed and ready to see him battle mere mortals and superheroes. For much of the film, he hovers mid-air, looking down on everyone. He has a catchphrase, too, but he’s reluctant to utter it. Naturally, that reticence plays into the story – an unwieldy combination of at least three Marvel films.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Sera, “Black Adam” never quite explains who that Society is or if anyone should trust its members. Also, it tries to be as grounded as Shazam (which, by the way, it has a connection to) and as otherworldly as Thor (“Ragnarok” or otherwise).
Johnson doesn’t really approach this any differently than he does most of his other films. He does a great job of staring but doesn’t waste much energy on words.
Brosnan is more literate. He makes you wonder if, maybe, he has a relative in the X-Men franchise and a connection to Doctor Strange’s tailor and barber. A huge estate (and big plane of sorts) suggests he’s a player, even though we have no idea what his past includes.
For good measure, there’s an ancient ruler who wants a crown that spends much of its time in Amon’s backpack.
The kid is good at skateboarding; his mom is skilled at connecting dots. Black Adam hovers, they run and the Society folks engage their limited skills while the Kahndaq residents look out for falling debris.
As if to make this more precious than it really is, Collet-Sera uses different fonts for the subtitles of various characters. What that’s supposed to do is anyone’s guess, but it adds one more element to a film that has a chart full of them.
Doctor Fate, we discover, has the ability to see the future. The skill could have prevented a lot of disasters and gotten us out of the theater at least 30 minutes earlier than it does if he had used it.
There’s a lot in “Black Adam” but not a burning desire to see him and his friends anytime soon.
One visit is more than enough.