Since Black Adam‘s initial release on October 21, I’ve since read many less than positive reviews that have described the film as lackluster and bland. Still heading into the movie with an optimistic mindset, I finally got to see the movie yesterday, two weeks after it’s release. Now having seen the movie, I can say that while I understand and mainly agree with the criticism it’s received, the film still manages to provide a good time for any comic book/superhero enjoyer. Black Adam is DC’s newest superhero film starring Dwayne Johnson as the titular character, Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate, Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher, and Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone. Although the movie certainly has its fair share of flaws and downsides, I think audiences will be pleased with the fantastic score, thrilling action, the introduction of the Justice Society, and the way this movie teases things to come. In fact, I’d probably overall describe Black Adam as a good ol’ popcorn flick that’ll do the trick in satisfying your superhero craving.

[Please note there are spoilers in this review; read at your own discretion]

Hawkman fighting against Sabbac in Black Adam (2022)

If you’re hoping to find a superhero movie that feels fresh and unique though, I’m unfortunately going to have to turn your attention away from Black Adam. With a story that is as standard and generic as it gets, I was easily able to predict the course of the story despite the film’s attempts at twists and turns. Although I know very little about Black Adam and his comic book history, I wasn’t particularly excited to learn more about him at first because the trailer itself seemed a little too straightforward and uncreative. I was hoping for something that felt new and exciting because of Black Adam’s “is he a hero or villain” type of status, but they just weren’t able to deliver. While there were definitely still positives sprinkled throughout the film, the uninspired writing failed to make this movie anything more than just okay.

It’s sad to say, but in terms of actual execution and story, Black Adam falls short of being a great addition to the realm of comic book movies. I had a lot of issues with the writing, which at times, felt way too forced and made the actors sound more awkward than desired. It’s important to note that there is a bit of a political element to this film which I liked, but while I appreciated the angle they were going for, it wasn’t able to resonate with me because of the poor writing. I could see they were attempting to reach deeper themes and topics about family, revenge, and freedom, but it all just felt too flat and the conversations around it failed to be of any substance. It probably didn’t help that I found Amon (played by Bodhi Sabongui) to feel a bit obnoxious with his childish antics and over persistence.

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam

But for me, the saving grace of Black Adam wasn’t the main character himself, but the supporting characters within the Justice Society. I genuinely loved each of the members and felt they individually brought their own personality to the movie. It was such a great introduction to these characters and I’m seriously excited to see more of them in the DCEU in the future. The team had a strong energy that was a major highlight of the film, and I especially enjoyed the dynamic of having the two more experienced members, Hawkman and Doctor Fate, take the reins. If I had to choose my favourite characters from the film, it’d be without a doubt, Hawkman and Doctor Fate. I personally think Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan put on fantastic performances that both did these iconic characters justice and helped to carry the film. I thought they looked amazing in their suits (loved the gold accents) and could really feel their presence whenever they appeared on screen. Hodge was such a standout as Hawkman and I loved the fierceness he brought to this beloved hero. As for Brosnan, I was so sad when they killed him off as Fate because I saw great potential with him in this role.

And of course, with any superhero film, action mixed with CGI can always be expected. I honestly thought the CGI for Black Adam was pretty solid in general though. I can’t really think of a specific scene where I have strong complaints about it. Sure, the demon Sabbac didn’t look amazing, but it wasn’t so bad that it distracted me. The heroes all looked great though; no issues with Atom Smasher whenever he changed sizes, Doctor Fate’s magic had that wonderfully mystical look to it, and I particularly loved the animation they did for Cyclone’s wind powers. It was cool seeing the incorporation of different colours in the wind and I liked the way she spun and flipped around inside the tornado.

Noah Centineo and Quintessa Swindell as Atom Smasher and Cyclone

There was tons of action throughout the film and while no individual moment stood out as super special, it all still felt very exciting and lively. One thing I was surprised by though was how dark they went with some of Black Adam’s kills in the beginning. Electrifying someone until all their flesh burns away? Ew. It was very impactful and effective in showcasing Black Adam’s power levels though – we know right away he’s not one to mess with. I also noticed how some of Black Adam’s quick movements felt reminiscent of Superman’s in Man of Steel (2013) so that was pretty cool to see. But if there’s one thing I want to point out, it’d just be that I wish they dialed back on some of the slow-mo in certain fight sequences. There was a little too much and that made it a bit overwhelming at times.

Now to talk about the big man himself, Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson as Black Adam. Do I think he did a good job with the character? Sure. Was it a memorable performance though? Definitely not. Unfortunately my suspicions about Johnson as the lead came true when I realized how one-dimensional and simplistic his performance felt. While he certainly excels during the action portions of the film, I’m afraid I just don’t think Johnson has the emotional range or acting chops to bring out anything deeper within the character. I swear he had the same expression and tone for the entire movie. And while you might argue that it’s done purposefully for his character, to me, it just emphasized how bland the character felt. I was undoubtedly in awe of his strength, but that’s kind of all I felt. I liked the subtle humour Johnson was able to bring to the character, but that’s more of an afterthought. But with such star power to his name and with the muscles to match, I can’t argue with the producers on their decision to cast him. I love the Rock, but I just wish he was able to bring a little more to the table – who knows, maybe he’ll surprise me in the future!

Doctor Fate in Black Adam (2022)

Let’s quickly take a look at the other end of the spectrum now; let’s talk about the movie’s other antagonists (other than Black Adam of course). The main villain in Black Adam would have to be Ishmael (played by Marwan Kenzari) who leads the Intergang group. Ishmael felt like a pretty underwhelming enemy with the classic “I’m going to finish what my ancestors couldn’t” kind of storyline that we’ve seen before time and time again. His transformation into Sabbac leveled up his overall power, but he still failed to feel intimidating in the face of Black Adam and the Justice Society. As for the Intergang, I was bothered by their futuristic motorbikes and weapons. We get very little information about the Intergang overall and the inclusion of their high tech gear felt really out of place. It just seemed as if all their technology was randomly thrown in to up the enemy’s power in fighting against Black Adam.

But lastly, if there’s one thing to compliment Black Adam on, it’d have to be that stunning score created by Lorne Balfe. Black Adam’s theme is so intense and bold, it perfectly matches the atmosphere the character gives off. The strong sound of it really helped to build the excitement and thrill of each scene, particularly during the fight sequences. If there’s something DC does right, it’s always the scores. Whether it’s for Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, or now Black Adam, the music never disappoints. I’d say Black Adam’s theme is worthy of being added onto the list of great comic book theme songs. Major props to Balfe for being able to lift the movie simply with his music.

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam

Although the film has received some pretty negative reviews which I can’t help but understand, I do think Black Adam is still a fun, low effort watch you can enjoy. I don’t regret going to theatres to watch this movie and if anything, I’m left feeling hopeful for what is being teased in the future. With great new additions to the DC universe, I see this film as being successful in setting up more stories and more heroes. And with Black Adam being so action-packed with a good mix of thrown in humour, I wouldn’t go as far as calling this movie a fail. I’ve decided to give Black Adam a final score of 6.5/10. I can’t deny its failures which I’ve detailed quite explicitly in this review, but for comic book fans who love this character or any of the Justice Society members, I think you’ll be pleased with what’s been depicted. If you’ve yet to see the film, don’t forget to stay for the mid-credit scene!