It’s finally here; after multiple revisions and delays and redo’s stifling its release since the early 2000’s, we finally have an up-close and personal look at what the long-awaited “Black Adam” movie will finally greet us with. Was it ever going to be a top-tier superhero movie?
Of course not; if anything, it’s one of the most prototypical superhero films yet. But I found myself having more fun than I probably should’ve…..not that that’s saying much.
The Rock’s range as an actor is inconsistent in most areas. Most times, he plays the same character at nauseam without skipping a beat; other times, he does show some range depending on the project he’s attached to. Here, Dwayne sort of tows the line between both but the rest of the cast is obviously trying as hard, if not harder than he is. Brosnan, Hodges, and Davis are exceptional; the rest are meh……mostly because their characters BARELY do the bare minimum to even qualify as such.
Juame Collet-Serra does have some extensive experience helming thriller films as a director and The Shallows has proven that. Tidbits of that come and go in small doses as the rest of the presentation slowly builds upon itself only to stagnate not even half an hour in. His direction can only take this tried-and-tested blueprint so far, derivative of its exercises but unpretentious. The cinematography is the fairly standard affair I’ve come to expect from these movies with a few good shots spaced out, most of the CG and costumes I can’t complain about, most of the action sequences are distinctive in how gleefully destructive they are despite the later CGI overindulgence and this is a first: Lorne Balfe’s score SLAPS. I can’t remember the last superhero film I’ve watched where I bopped to almost every single OST that had this much personality…..at least compared to everything else.
All of that, unfortunately, does nothing to trump what is arguably the biggest detriment of the film. Between the characters, the setting, the backstory, the rushed first act and especially the tripe final act, every single thread to this story might as well be a re-skinned template or arbitrary studio checklist because that’s exactly what it plays out like. It moves along exactly how you think it does with “We gotta have this happen, then we gotta do this, make enough time to cram that in, put all of this right here, take that out, squeeze that in near the end, check that out, cross it off the list”; it’s not only painfully derivative of other films that followed this format and did it better but it’s perhaps the safest movie I’ve seen this year. Not even the widely ‘acclaimed’ post-credit scene where a certain character returns (which I did enjoy more than the rest of the film), it isn’t enough to trump this bucket of mediocrity.
I know what you’re probably going to say: “But Riptide, you lambasted both Venom films and Morbius for being generic so why so hypocritical here?’ Again, the truth is just because something’s generic doesn’t make it inherently bad. The Venom films and Morbius’s problems extend BEYOND the generic presentation of their stories and slipshod nature; they spent a vast majority of time either trying to be something it wasn’t, drowning it’s entire editing department in sewer water for anything to look remotely pleasant or relying heavily on false advertising to boost its numbers. At least with Black Adam, you know what you’re gonna get off the bat and despite a rough first act, any contractually obligated enthusiasm doesn’t immediately die away to that of perpetual grumbling.
The dialogue, outside of a few spry segments, is some of the most generic you’re going to hear all year, some special effects and VFX look outdated, character development is almost nigh-nonexistent compared to Teth-Adam and even that’s a stretch, good half of the characters were either annoying or useless, the inconsequential production design leaves no room for world-building, the shoehorned last act villain is a complete joke and also a testament to the movies earlier plotholes, tireless exposition, inconsistent humor and the editing is trepidatiously annoying. It feels almost too jumpy to get from one shot to the next despite being over 2 HOURS long.
For all the DCEU’s staggering dips and dives of quality and tone, Black Adam unfortunately doesn’t stick out by much. You’ll be entertained all the way through but it's not a film that will stick with you once you've seen it. But then again, considering this film apparently took 15 years to make and this was the final result…..it’s just sad, honestly.