BLACK ADAM – Review by Susan Granger

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It’s mindless, meaningless mayhem but, if you want CG-action, it’s non-stop!

Years ago, when I taught screenwriting, I told students: “Show me a story,” adding that good stories need solid characters. Both are lacking in Jaume Collet-Serra’s cacophonous live-action DC cartoon.

The prologue introduces the ancient Middle Eastern kingdom of Kahndaq, where the ruler Sabaac forces his slaves to mine for the magical metal Eternium. When a huge gemstone is found, a young boy encourages others to revolt but – after he’s captured and about to be executed – powerful wizards intervene, transforming him into the titular champion (Dwayne Johnson) who topples the entire realm.

5000 years later in Kahndaq, as archeologist Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) searches for the king’s legendary Eternium crown, she unwittingly unearths the mythological spandex-clad anti-hero, Teth Adam – with a pentagram scar on his chest and a backstory with his son Hurut. That’s where Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani and Adam Sztykiel’s ‘origin’ script stops being coherent.

While Adrianna’s skate-boarding, comics-obsessed son Amon (Bodhi Sabongui) introduces disoriented yet rage-filled Adam to the modern world, smugly preening Adam advocates violence/destruction as the only way to solve whatever problems occur.

Meanwhile, feeding into the concept of Western imperialism, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) assembles four members of America’s Justice League – Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell) – to intervene.

“In this world, there are heroes and there are villains. Heroes don’t kill people,” golden-winged Hawkman tells Adam. “Well, I do,” Adam retorts, adding “Force is always necessary.”

FYI: When Black Adam says “Shazam!” it’s not the familiar “Shazam!” uttered by Captain Marvel, although it also serves as an acronym to activate their superpowers – but that’s never explained.

And – if you’ve remained stoic through the perfunctory two hours+ – stay for the ‘revealing’ credits, featuring a cameo by a much beloved DC hero, setting up a future franchise confrontation.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Black Adam is a sloppy, senseless 6 – playing in theaters.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.