Tripwire Reviews Black Adam

Back In Black

Tripwire’s senior editor Andrew Colman takes a look at Warner Bros.’ Black Adam out in cinemas now…

Black Adam
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan

“He didn’t make it”, mutters Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) to a serially enraged Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) having just flung a tooled-up baddie towards the horizon. And that was the tone of this odd little edition in the “DCEU” – the filmmakers desperately trying to calibrate the movie to appeal to the usual demographic as cinemagoers weren’t familiar with any of the characters involved. So rather than go the unpretentious ironic route that worked for the really quite good Shazam, they’ve opted for extreme yet casual graphic violence, the odd one liner, a bit of comic relief from the supporting cast members and some baby boomer references. And of course acres of tedious exposition and a lot of grimacing. So business as usual then.

The premise, to be fair, is different, with Black Adam’s journey beginning 5,000 years ago in a middle eastern country called Kahndaq. In the present day the place is ruthlessly controlled by Intergang, a militia connected to Darkseid (although he isn’t mentioned in the film) that oppresses the population, much as Ahk-Ton, the ruler from millennia ago, did. A few rebels seek to find said ruler’s mystical crown and in the process of locating it, are ambushed by Intergang but manage to awaken the hitherto dormant Adam, who immediately annihilates everything that moves but spares the rebels. This brings in the good old JSA, called in by the government apparently to restore stability (I didn’t say the premise was good – just different). And much hilarity and exploding heads ensues. Hawkman repeatedly informs Adam that heroes don’t kill, there’s the odd spaghetti western reference, and poor old Kahndaq is forced to be the backdrop for all sorts of absurdly destructive mayhem.

And then there’s Ishmael (Marwan Kenzari), leader of Intergang, who, as the last surviving descendant of Ahk-Ton (apparently) wants the crown in order to become a big red fire-breathing demon who can unleash zombies (well, everyone needs to find themselves) in order to terrorize the townspeople (as if they haven’t suffered enough). Oops, I ruined the ending there a bit. Well, it was tacked on anyway.

As is the case with all such movies, it’s an exercise in logistics, but there are some positives. Pierce Brosnan, whose entire movie career has been about restraint and minimalism is decent as the astral projecting Dr. Fate – Brosnan is no stranger to genre, and of course never overplays his role, lending no small gravitas to the proceedings. And then there’s Johnson, in a part he was born to play. The movie may have a generally drab, clichéd script, but he owns the screen, looks committed and is the perfect actor for this thunderously bland and overlong hokum fest. Even the theme of what defines a hero, relentlessly sledgehammered into our brains in order to make the audience believe that this isn’t just another box-ticking exercise, works when he’s at the helm. Frankly I hope he beats Superman, so there.

So what else is there about this latest entry, I hear you say? There’s a few other familiar tropes worth mentioning – the annoyingly cute and totally superfluous supporting characters (Atom Smasher and Cyclone), the pandering to the audience (a comedy fat bloke listening to 70s hits on cassette, the inevitable wholesome kid schooling the lead on catchphrases, a thudding rap score as the action begins) and a shoehorned in allegory regarding imperialism (did I mention a box ticking exercise?).

There are moments of pure desperation in this movie, especially the final reel, and some of the acting really is terrible. The denouement is laughable but thankfully there’s Johnson looking stern and even enigmatic to set things right – you can’t not like him, and he would’ve been good in those aforementioned spaghetti westerns. All in all, as DC movies go, this is above average. As far as comic-based movies go, it’s average, and as far as movies in general go, it’s average (there’s a lot of dismal schlock out there these days). I kid, I kid.

But in all seriousness what seems to matter on internet forums is the attention by fans and self-styled commentators given to profit and loss, not to mention the disparity between the critics (who generally gave the film neutral to negative reviews) and the casual viewer (who mostly liked it). The focus is on the movie as product, units shifted and franchises, rather than the actual quality of the piece, which is usually explained away as being “a popcorn flick” (yes, I have moaned about this before). The cinema audience gets what it deserves, and until they vote with their feet, this genre, and all the precepts that go with it (i.e. never, ever stray from formula) will continue as it is. To hell with art, let the bar stay low. This rule, and the desire to remain uncritical in the face of cynical mediocrity just doesn’t seem to apply to other movies.

In the end “mindless popcorn flick” doesn’t necessarily mean bad, until the producers start insisting that there’s more to their latest blockbuster than that. There never is, although there genuinely could be. Right, enough pontificating. Black Panther sequel, anybody?

Black Adam is in cinemas now

here’s the film’s trailer

The post Tripwire Reviews Black Adam appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.

Back In Black Tripwire’s senior editor Andrew Colman takes a look at Warner Bros.’ Black Adam out in cinemas now… Black Adam Director: Jaume Collet-Serra Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan “He didn’t make it”, mutters Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) to a serially enraged Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) having just flung a tooled-up baddie towards
The post Tripwire Reviews Black Adam appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.Read MoreTRIPWIRE MAGAZINE

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