Bullets and missiles cannot harm Black Adam. That doesn’t stop the script from staging four action scenes in which Black Adam mauls invading militants who keep on shooting as if the odds suddenly changed. Instead, Black Adam becomes repetitive and redundant, divorced from its infinitely more interesting thematic subtext for more boom.
In a scenario of unfortunate timing, Black Adam uses what’s near the same storyline as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and given the two film’s proximity, neither inherently borrows from the other. In Black Adam, it’s a fictional Middle Eastern country (Kahndaq) battling outsiders for their precious, supernatural metal, while an anti-hero seeks to quell any attempt to meddle in local affairs.
A willing killer, Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) trounces an endless number of faceless goons, all to reach the outright demonic villain Sabbac (Marwan Kazari) whose openly nationalist statement regarding Kahndaq (“It used to be great”) aggressively connects to contemporary political ideology. Black Adam is out to make a point about western and eastern cultures, or more importantly, how to preserve both. For Black Adam, that’s violence, and it’s a rare moment for the film to denounce the endless fighting. Instead, it jokes about it.
It’s not bad taste so much as borderline considering the endless conflict that plagues those regions on Earth. Mockingly, Black Adam drops and tosses offending soldiers as if paper dolls, then makes a snarky remark meant to elicit a laugh. Usually, it doesn’t. Then, Black Adam is assisted by the Justice Society of America, further ingraining the independence angle, and creating derivative comedy bits. It’s canned and predictable enough to call them out before they happen, cementing WB’s/DC’s attempt to catch up to rival Disney/Marvel, who also is falling into the same trap.
What’s primed to explore contentious relationships between nations turns into kid-focused fare, littered with overlong action scenes drenched in impossible computer generated imagery that’s beyond stale. Nothing in Black Adam seems plausible merely at a visual level, losing any authenticity within the otherwise real world (if made up locale) back-and-forth. Johnson plays a determined, sure-headed superhero in a role made for him, but the outlying story around him doesn’t offer any justice.
Pulled from a 4K digital source, Black Adam shows generous sharpness and detail in close-up. Digital effects soften slightly, but that hardly matters given their definition. Noise rarely intrudes with few exceptions.
Dolby Vision hammers the screen, showy, intense, and eye-catching. Spectacular black levels counter the vivid contrast brilliantly. Black Adam shimmers when at its best, and that’s most of the time.
Color follows the DC pattern, muted in mono or dualchrome palettes wavering between orange and teals as if filmed in the early 2010s. It’s not moody so much as restrictive, and a handful of primaries can escape.
Black Adam pounces out of the gate with a deep Dolby Atmos track. Bass consistently jumps from the subwoofer, although to note, this isn’t the tightest or deepest low-end, especially considering the genre as a whole. It’s mid-tier bass, solid, rumbly, and loud, but muted.
The rest, however, is a stunner. Surrounds remain active throughout, whether it’s Black Adam flying around the soundstage or missiles and bullets driving through the heights, rears, or stereos as needed. It’s accurate, and nearly a non-stop aural assault.
The ten featurettes run about 45-minutes total, but never rise above promotional fodder.
Black Adam is out to make a point about western and eastern cultures
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 40 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: