Black Adam is the 11th film in the DC Extended Universe franchise.The character first appeared in rival Fawcett Comics’ Marvel Family #1 (1945). The wizard Shazam granted Black Adam the same powers given to Captain Marvel but because Black Adam abused his powers, he was punished. Dwayne Johnson stars as Teth-Adam / Black Adam, whose mighty powers and deadly actions are of great concern to the U.S. government. But what will they be able to do about it?
The movie opens in 2600 BCE Kahndaq, a fictional Middle Eastern country that was home to the first self-governing people. King Ahk-Ton’s army conquers them and forces the men to search for the mineral Eternium, which Ahk-Ton needs to forge the demonic Crown of Sabbac. A young slave rises up and receives the powers of Shazam. After defeating Ahk-Ton, he is not heard from again, although his legend passes on through the millennia.
Modern-day Kahndaq has been occupied for 27 years by Intergang, a mercenary group. They are searching for the Crown of Sabbac. Archaeologist Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) and her cohorts are as well. She finds it, but before Intergang members can take it from her, she awakens Teth-Adam, who brutally disposes of the well-armed mercs, in a cool-looking, CG-heavy sequence that is both brutal and amusing for those with a dark sense of humor. This battle draws the attention of the Justice Society (Hawkman [Aldis Hodge], Doctor Fate [Pierce Brosnan], Cyclone [Quintessa Swindell], and Atom Smasher [Noah Centineo]). They want Teth-Adam to give up his power and surrender, which is easier said then done. Following a familiar comic book trope, the heroes clash before uniting against a common villain.
The script is not the typical “good vs. evil” story as Black Adam is an antihero with no concern for justice towards those who wrong his people. While the JS wants Black Adam to stop his ruthless ways, the Kahndaqian people do not judge him, and who can blame them? Why have Batman, Superman, Aquaman, et. al. allowed the Kahndaqian people to suffer for so long? Black Adam removes the boot from their necks when no one else did. Should they care how it was done? Should they care that bad people received the same treatment they foisted upon others? It’s easy to be righteous when you have the freedom to do so.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra and his team do a great job bringing this movie to life. The sets look realistic. The action scenes are well executed. Johnson is believable as Teth-Adam, a (super)man who has simple views on right and wrong that evolve from his interactions. Hodge evokes leadership and regalness as Hawkman. Brosnan carries a weariness from his mystical powers and the burdens they place upon him. There are also a few Easter eggs for DCEU fans so keep an eye out, especially during the credits.
The Blu-ray’s video has been given a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The colors pop in bold hues. The oranges seen in the flames are lush. The golds of Dr. Fate’s costume and magic spells sparkle. The blacks are inky. Very fine texture details can be seen in the costumes, props, and sets. The image presents strong clarity and depth. Real objects blend seamlessly with the CGI effects.
The audio is available in Dolby Atmos, which defaults to 7.1 Dolby Digital. Dialogue is clear throughout. The soundfield immerses the viewer in the scenes with objects positioned within and panning across channels. The dynamic field is wide with the loud end not crossing over into distortion. Composer Lorne Balfe’s score fills the speakers and augments the scenes.
The Special Features, all in HD, are:
- The History of Black Adam (10 min) – A look at the character’s history who first appeared in Marvel Family #1 in 1945.
- Who is the Justice Society? (14 min) – Like the previous extra, the team’s history is revealed along with Black Adam’s interactions with them.
- From Soul to Screen (6 min) – How the character starring Johnson came to the screen.
- Black Adam: A Flawed Hero (5 min) – Talk about the character being an anti-hero.
- Black Adam: New Tech in an Old World (5 min) – How the crew blended modern and ancient in the worlds on screen.
- Black Adam: Taking Flight (4 min) – You will believe the Rock can fly.
- Kahndaq: Designing a Nation (6 min) – The creation of a new country in the DCEU.
- The Rock of Eternity (6 min) – A spotlight on the impressive set.
- Costumes Make the Hero (8 min) – The work of costume designer Kurt Swanson and his team are highlighted.
- Black Adam: A New Type of Action (7 min) – The stunt work in relation to the new characters and their abilities.
Black Adam is a fun blockbuster with lots of action, explosions, and effects. There are a few intriguing characters worth seeing again (so it’s a shame we likely won’t get the chance with news of the DCEU getting a reboot). The script contains familiar story beats common to the superhero genre but it also has plot twists that bring a freshness to the story. The Blu-ray delivers a pleasing high-definition experience and a shallow dive into the movie’s making through the extras.
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