I didn’t think that this would be the movie to bring me back, and it really isn’t, but f*ck it, I have thoughts on this movie. Those thoughts mostly being “HOW IS THIS NOT AMAZING?”
If you’re not familiar with the character of Black Adam from DC comics, he was originally the evil version of Captain Marvel. The one that’s now called SHAZAM, not the one in the Avengers. Over time, some good writers realized that a character who is basically Superman but also is willing to punch through a bad guy’s head can be an interesting character and a way to explore the moral gray areas that characters like Superman usually can’t. Unfortunately, most of those writers were not involved in this movie. They were replaced by cliches and cocaine, which is itself a cliche.
The premise is that a few millennia ago in the generic but unoffensive because it’s fictional Middle-Eastern nation of Kahndaq, an evil king (Marwan Kenzari) took over and created a crown of pure evil for reasons. A bunch of wizards needed a champion to stop him, because wizards can’t do shit on their own (ask anyone playing DnD), and so they chose Teth-Adam (Dwayne “I Don’t Need a Muscle Suit” Johnson) and he proceeded to kick the king’s ass and then get imprisoned by the wizards. In the modern day, Kahndaq is now held by a military occupier called Intergang who force the people to mine “Eternium,” a mineral that apparently is pure magic and only found in Kahndaq. Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi), her brother Karim (Mohammed Amer), and her son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) are resistance fighters who find the location of the crown and also Black Adam’s resting place. They end up releasing him and he proceeds to kick the crap out of Intergang until he is attacked by the “Justice” Society of America, consisting of Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo). Some stuff happens and ultimately they all band together to save the day. If that’s a spoiler, you haven’t seen movies.
Okay, this movie does a few things right. It has some funny scenes to break up the tension. It shows a few scenes of what would actually happen if an army attacked Superman and he didn’t have his “no killing” policy (hint: doesn’t go well for the guys with guns). Mostly, though, it has the Rock nailing it. I have many, many complaints about this film, but none of them are about his performance. He is a man who has a massive amount of anger matched only by his ridiculous amount of power. He can do whatever he wants, but he doesn’t really have bad intentions. He just doesn’t believe that you should spare someone who is trying to murder you, which makes a lot of sense for someone from 2600 BC.
The problem is that the movie can’t ever really address some of the bigger themes that they actually touch on and those themes are what would actually be worth addressing. Instead, the movie has to force a bunch of conflicts by making various characters do arbitrarily stupid things or out-of-character decisions. It’s enraging. For example, the Justice Society of America, who we have never seen or heard of before now, works for Amanda Waller, the person who runs the Suicide Squad and basically decide they have to imprison Teth-Adam the minute he appears because he is too powerful to allow to run free and because he committed the horrible crime of… seeking vengeance on the king that enslaved his country and slaughtered his people. Seriously. In response, the people of Kahndaq openly root for Adam because he’s killing the people that have been enslaving and murdering them for, apparently, 27 years. The Justice Society notably did nothing about that, but showed up the minute someone tried to stop it. The implication, which might have been interesting but is never followed up on, is that America might be backing Intergang in order to get access to Eternium. Not that America would ever back a harmful regime in the Middle East in order to gain access to natural resources. The Justice Society doesn’t really have any answer to why they’re working for Waller nor why they keep attacking Black Adam in the middle of a populated city, but most of their actions contrast with the principles they supposedly stand for and their entire notion of being “good” is that they don’t kill people. This would be something that would be really interesting to explore, but, again, the movie just kind of moves on so that we can get to Act 3 with the super-punching and the sky-beam. Oooh, so original and fun.
Seriously, though, DC, you had all the ingredients to make something amazing in this film, mostly just having The Rock in it, and you screwed it up royally. Even worse, this movie will make a billion dollars and you will learn nothing and neither will we.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.