Shazam? I never have my hopes high for DC movies, but as the release date of this long awaited film got closer and closer I couldn't help but get a little excited. The Justice Society? Black Adam? Even done wrong it would still be exciting to see these characters get a chance on the big screen. So lets dive in.
Boring, but that's the point. This movie has a lot of action in it's first half, and very little story. They "yada yada yada" through the Wizard garbage then let Black Adam start zapping. Seeing Black Adam in action is easily the best part of the movie, he is ruthless, and doesn't understand why others would disagree with his methods. But a lot of the movie is characters discussing his actions, rather than seeing them play out. For a movie that runs at only two hours, it's runtime seems a little bloated with unnecessary conversations about power and revenge and blah blah blah. We understand who his character is instantly, and we don't need the movie/action to constantly stop to debate whether violence is the answer or not. The movie focuses a lot on the "civilians" of Kahndaq, which is fitting since Black Adam is a strong protector of his people and country. With that being said, the movie flirts between being about the people and being about the superheroes. While the Justice Society is a welcome addition, it kind of feels like Black Adam could have stood more on it's own, with a focus on the people of Kahndaq. Instead the movie really focuses on the Justice Society. DC is still too cowardly to take any risks, so the obvious move of making a standalone Justice Society movie probably scared them too much, so they did what they did with Batfleck, and crammed them into someone else's movie. The plot pulls you between caring about Teth Adam's story (which is full of obvious twists from the trailer and first scene alone) and the citizens of Kahndaq story AND the Justice Society's story. This movie could have been a neat 15 minutes shorter and more focused if it had cut one of those storylines.
The Rock was definitely born to play this role. Because Black Adam has almost no personality, and the Rock has VERY limited acting skills. He delivers his Black Adam lines like he is in Jungle Cruise. But Black Adam shines in each action sequence. His disregard for human life is vicious, calculating, and gives us one of the most violent superhero PG-13 movies I have ever seen. The Rock shines as Black Adam. Pierce Brosnan nearly stole the show as Dr. Fate. He looked the part and acted the heck out of the part. With that being said, the character was murdered by the writers and by Marvel. Everyone's (well deserved) love of Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange made it very hard to find Dr. Fate unique. Mirror dimension spell? Check. Duplicate spell? Check. Checking the future? Check. As well as Pierce acted, the writers just couldn't make Dr. Fate feel strong or interesting enough; he felt more like a Dr. Strange knockoff, especially to casual fans. Aldis Hodge was phenomenal as Hawkman. He had the attitude, the leadership, the arrogance, and everything else you need to play Carter Hall. But his inclusion definitely takes away from the Black Adam part of this movie. He was a nice foil to Black Adam, but that's a relationship that could have been explored in a later movie. Brosnan and Hodge were wasted in this film, and could have crushed a solo JSA film first. The other two members of the JSA, Atom Smasher and Cyclone, were forgettable and only good for a few cheap laughs and like two half hearted romance scenes. Part of me wishes only Hawkman has been in this, and not the JSA at all, what a waste. I'm not even going to mention the villains because they are laughable forgettable as well. The real villain of this movie is the skateboard.
This is the greatest strength this movie had. The action was intense, and constant. The fight scenes looked good, even if the background itself wasn't very pleasant to look at. As I said above, any action from Atom Smasher was boring, and his portrayal as half Scott Lang half Wade Wilson was uninspired, so his action scenes didn't pack any punch (even when they did). Cyclone's "action" shots looked nice, but it was silly seeing her essentially just throw dirt at Black Adam and Sabbat. This movie is at it's best when Black Adam is just absolutely demolishing people, and delivering either cool one liners or having a Drax level of humor. DC was again cowardly but not making this movie R rated. It still works as a PG-13 movie, but that limited it's extremes in ways that only hurt the movie. If this movie had been R it would have been a smash hit (and if they deleted some plot).
Summary: Well cast main characters and steady action support this film, but the muddied plot, needless side characters, and the lame PG-13 rating kept this movie from being the surprise hit it could have been.