27 October 2022 514 Views

BLACK ADAM: Remarkably unremarkable. But Fine for that!

by James Murphy

Another week. Another superhero movie. 

Should I go and see a more arty film? No. Because most so called art films, nowadays, imho, are just as dark, dull and derivative as the average soap opera. Plus, in absence of an A List vs B List system? I am paying same price to see one as another genre.

Therefore, why not invest in something where the money is up onscreen and the goal is simply to entertain an audience and enable its escape? I answered the call. I went to see BLACK ADAM.

It is in many senses a greatest hits of  DWAYNE ‘THE ROCK’ JOHNSON package. 

1: Old ancient Egyptian type curse thingie: check (SCORPRION KING).

2: Joining dying /dead franchise and thereby injecting life (FAST/FURIOUS): Check! 

3: THE ROCK is undefeated. Undefeatable. Muscly. Wall breaking. Ass kicking. Check!

4: Solid to good supporting cast. One of whom comes perilously close to stealing show. CHECK!

5: International globe trotting appeal, pop culture references, family suitable ethic but hints on darker designs: see above (a yes). 

 

Now, as a DC comics film? I have no idea where this fits in continuity. You get some references to recent entries in that series and some super surprising overlap in personnel. But also, self contained.

If you do start asking questions (as in where were all these other heroes when Doomsday/Zod/Darkseid attacked?) then you simply spoil whatever scintilla of fun is there. Which would be a shame.

Now, speaking of fun. IS THIS FUN? Yes, in places. There are some dazzling visuals and effects. A splash of colour. And, despite previously mentioned continuity hole, there are some genuinely satisfying nods to comic book lore. INTERGANG are the baddies here and fans will know them as recurring SUPERMAN antagonists. HINT. HINT..

The problem is that the verisimilitude is not ‘there’. Can our hero be killed or not? What are the limits, if any on his powers? Is saying ‘SHAAZAM!‘ the same power granted to that titular character from a previous DC film?

A God is made and then awakened, thousands of years later, to take down a terrorist group. Cool! But that’s hardly a fair fight. And therefore, to make it more even, the terrestrial, human baddies must themselves (possible spoiler alert but not much?) surely take on a quasi-Satanic form.

IE: if you do not know the stakes, from the outset of a film? Tension is non existent. That would be fine IF compensated with adequate humour/style/innovation/immersive writing and direction. But it isn’t.

So in places, the whole affair is rather dull? Sorry, it just is!

That said? WHAT A TURN by PIERCE BROSNAN as ‘Doctor Fate’ (mystic arts magician and has a nice beard: both character and the actor!).

As I keep saying, Brosnan can and should do BOND 26. Not the whole movie, understand. Just a coda as a retired 007, with Henry Cavill (hint hint) as Bond ‘prime’ from the 1990s. BLACK ADAM gives an indication of how that dynamic could work.

Pierce is enjoying a second wind here. Akin to Bond predecessor, Sean Connery: Brosnan is now a bona fide movie star, in mentor mode. Still super-duper suave, sleek and stylish. Also, funny. Whether intentionally or otherwise. 

So yes, there is some stuff to enjoy here. Plenty of good intentions, optimism, potential, heart, soul and bang for buck. But it is also predictable, leaden, unoriginal and rather flat in places.

Whilst I cannot recommend the film? I applaud BLACK ADAM for trying to be worthy OF a recommend, without pretension or hubris. It’s a passable few hours at the pictures and worth a look, maybe as a half term filler.

A For effort; C for progress.

 

 



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