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Film Review #16: BLACK ADAM

Written by Deepesh Vasudev

The Hierarchy of Comic Book Movies Has Not Changed

Maximum action. Zero conflict. 

I usually like to discuss the best aspects of a film and cater the review to the elements that people might enjoy, however when it comes to Black Adam, I think I will have to discuss what makes it a subpar cinematic experience. However, I am aware that the film is selling tickets like hotcakes and if you enjoyed the movie or maybe you enjoy the few things that make this film great, I will start by saying the good.

There is ample action in Black Adam and it is highly inspired by the work of Zack Snyder. Maybe it can be said that it is not as distinctive as Snyder’s slow-motioned action with purposeful zooms, a la 300 (2006) but it still satiates those who are seeking similar. Some of the comedy in the film lands very well and I chuckled a few times in the theatre, I especially found Atom Smasher played by Noah Centineo a good source of comic relief. CGI excels at many moments during the film and it is also slightly refreshing to see a superhero film not centre around the United States.

Other than that, there is not much praise for the film. Most characters are just fine, there are no characters that connect emotionally or entertain wildly. The action is not jaw-dropping, the cinematography is not awe-inspiring, the editing is standard, the colours are almost monotone and there is much more I wanna say but I will focus on one aspect that struck me hard. The film lacks conflict. Black Adam played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is an invulnerable and unstoppable force, thus the action sequences do not have any weight.

This is fine as most superhero films have to work with this but they add stakes like new characters who can be killed or inner conflict withing the superhero, and there are elements of that in this film but they are not developed enough, I did not feel any tension in the film at all. Great stories must make us worry for the protagonist when he is facing his obstacles, this film fails to do that. So the film becomes a drag, they do add a major mystery to the film but it almost takes a backseat to Black Adam’s incessant murdering and how that might be an ethical problem is hinted at but never explored adequately.

These are exciting solutions to make an interesting plot with a character with so much power, but they are not fleshed out adequately. I would say the film becomes slightly better in the last 30 minutes, but I doubt if it was worth going through the rest of the film first. Hopefully, what they do for the next films will be better because they have set up a world that is interesting and ready for exciting and entertaining stories.

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This review is published as part of *SCAPE’s Film Critics Lab: A Writing Mentorship Programme organised by The Filmic Eye, with support from the Singapore Film Society and Sinema.

About the Author: Deepesh Vasudev is a filmmaker and also majors in Philosophy at NUS. He has created short films, music videos, adverts and visual poems, to name a few.

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About the Movie:
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Sarah Shahi, Marwan Kenzari, Pierce Brosnan, Noah Centineo, Henry Cavill, Quintessa Swindell

Year: 2022
Duration: 2h 5mins
Language: English

Synopsis: In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.

Catch Black Adam in cinemas now!

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