And for those who thought the time of motion movies using slow-motion as a crutch was over, “Black Adam” has bad news for you. Even fight scenes with resurrected hell demons and villains torn in half like sheets of loose-leaf are rendered yawn-worthy and downright juvenile.
It doesn’t help that our antihero is as exciting as, well, a flying rock in a cape. Johnson floats through scenes along with his furiously furrowed brow and an expression stubbornly frozen between consternation and confusion. He, and the film, can capture neither the seriousness nor the humor it aspires to; Johnson attempts to cover up his signature lighthearted comedic delivery with a stony deadpan that sucks all levity from each scene he’s in.
Centineo and Amer are saddled with the responsibility to supply comic relief as goofy sidekick types, but each hit the identical flat notes. Adam’s comedic beats, alternatively, are limited to his lugheaded responses to the opposite characters’ coaching on proper hero etiquette (“Catchphrase, then kill,” he repeats densely after Amon).
The hero suggestions are essential to the film’s pontificating about justice and its lumbering setup of Adam because the alternate hero for an age that requires more nuanced codes of integrity and more aggressive motion. Heroes like Superman and Aquaman are out being saviors, but they’ve conveniently missed Kahndaq, Amon says to Adam, suggesting that even the world’s finest do-gooders could be selective and unfair on the subject of fighting evil.
“There are only heroes and villains,” says Hawkman, a personality who, despite Hodge’s solid performance, is unbelievably saddled with this reductive mind-set; that way, the movie can remake the identical point it spends two hours repeating. “The world doesn’t need a white knight; sometimes it needs something darker,” Doctor Fate says, presenting the film’s thesis — which, by the best way, was more eloquently expressed 14 years ago in “The Dark Knight.”
If, because the credits roll for “Black Adam,” you’re still stuck wondering what defines a foul hero or a great antihero, know that not less than the film clarifies one thing: What makes a foul hero movie.
Rated PG-13 for bad guys meeting violent, premature ends. Running time: 2 hours 4 minutes. In theaters.