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Johnson, action scenes make ‘Black Adam’ a good time

Movies & TV

Let’s not bury the lead. “Black Adam,” the latest cinematic offering from DC Comics, is not a good movie. It’s poorly written, full of hacky dialogue and the story structure is a mess. Yet, as flawed as this movie is, the presence of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and some fun, energetic action scenes keep this movie afloat.

“Black Adam” opens in the nation of Kahndaq with a “Lord of the Rings”-style prologue detailing the backstory of Teth-Adam (Johnson), as well as filling us in on the creation of the film’s McGuffin, the crown of Sabbac.

Jump to the present day and the people of Kahndaq are currently chafing under the boot of a criminal group known as The Intergang. When The Intergang traps archeologist Adriana Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), she unwittingly resurrects Teth-Adam, who starts wiping people out and destroying everything in sight. The Justice Society of America is called in to deal with the issue but when another threat arises, Teth-Adam and the JSA will have to join forces in order to win the day.

This movie has some glaring issues, starting with the writing. The plot is messy and unfocused. The movie is called “Black Adam,” but it’s as much the JSA’s movie as it is Teth-Adam’s and that means that the title character is sidelined while side characters like Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) and Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan) throw dialogue back and forth.

Speaking of dialogue, this movie has some really clunky lines in it. For example:

Hawkman: Heroes don’t kill people.

(Musical score pauses dramatically.)

Teth-Adam: Well… I do.

That’s the kind of crap a teenager just learning how to write scripts comes up with, and they don’t have mountains of movie studio cash bankrolling their efforts.

There are also some special effects in this flick that are so unconvincing. All I’ll say here is when you’re doing the Ray Harryhausen fighting skeletons thing in 2022 and the fighting skeletons Harryhausen was doing back in 1963 look more realistic, that’s when you know you’re in trouble.

In spite of all that, “Black Adam” is actually a pretty fun ride for a couple of reasons, starting with Johnson. You could tell me that Johnson was created by scientists in a lab specifically for this role and I’d believe you. His hulking physique and glowering eyes are to perfect physical vessel for Teth-Adam’s powers. His boatloads of charisma make the dialogue sound a little more believable than it actually is. That line about killing people I quoted? That only works because of how Johnson delivers it.

Johnson gets help from his supporting cast. Hodge is great as Hawkman. I remember him from Season 2 of “Supernatural.” It’s pretty cool to see how far he’s come and he owns his role here. Brosnan is equally good as Dr. Fate. He gives a quiet, understated performance but it works pretty well.

The other thing that makes “Black Adam” worth seeing is the action scenes. Granted, it’s pretty boring watching Teth-Adam mow through normal humans, even heavily armed ones. But once he starts taking on the JSA, the fights get more energetic and inventive. The only flaw here is that there’s so much slow-motion in the final battle, you’d think Zack Snyder directed it. But other than that, the action scenes rock.

Johnson has been attached to a “Black Adam” movie for seemingly forever and he was officially announced as the character in 2014, so this long-gestating flick is clearly a passion project for him. His passion for the project has produced a film that isn’t going to blow anyone away. But if you like “The Rock” and lots of cool action scenes, “Black Adam” is just the ticket for you.

3 Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

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