Black Adam First Reviews: Action-Packed and Powered by a Charismatic Dwayne Johnson (2024)

Almost 15 years after Dwayne Johnson first announced interest in playing the character, he finally makes his debut as Black Adam in the DCEU this week. But is the movie, eponymously titled Black Adam, worth the wait, the promise, and the anticipation? The first reviews of the superhero spectacle are mixed, but those that get what the movie is and who it’s for praise the positives enough to disregard any shortcomings.

Here’s what critics are saying about Black Adam:

Does it live up to expectations?

Johnson has been attached to the Black Adam role for nearly two decades… His love for the DC Universe shines through the film and his passion pays off well throughout. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

Those who have been waiting for this adaptation long since Johnson first expressed interest back in 2007 will not walk away disappointed. – Ben Rolph, Discussing Film

If The Rock smashing more things than he usually can as human characters sounds like a good time, Black Adam delivers. – Fred Topel, United Press International

Given the number of years this project was in development, and how it was promoted to shift the balance of power in the DC Universe, it’s disappointing that the end result is so unremarkable. – Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

How well does it fit into the DCEU?

Black Adam isn’t a full-on course correction for the DCEU, but it is an encouraging new installment in this larger universe. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

Black Adam feels like the first project in years to take from multiple parts of this universe while also focusing on setting up something big for its future. – Gregg Katzman, CBR

Though we’ve prayed DC would move on, there are more than echoes of the Snyderverse here. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

A strong entry into the DCEU. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

As much as Black Adam is a darker take on Shazam, it also repeats the missteps of lesser DC movies. – Fred Topel, United Press International

It’s not awful, especially when compared to many of the other DCEU films, but it’s far from the game-changer it claims to be. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

Does it feel like any other movies?

The film plays like 2018’s Venom in multiple ways, focusing on brutal action sequences and a mixed tone of dark moments and humor. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

The movie is essentially Shane on steroids, set in the Middle East instead of the Old West. – Peter Debruge, Variety

One movie that’s clearly a model for Black Adam is Terminator 2: Judgment Day. – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

Black Adam First Reviews: Action-Packed and Powered by a Charismatic Dwayne Johnson (1)

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

How is The Rock as Black Adam?

The Rock delivers one of his best performances. He put his heart and soul into this role. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

An absolutely terrific performance by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, [the movie allows] him to flex his trademark muscular showmanship and combine that with character-driven appeal. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Johnson keeps up his enchanting screen presence as he lands old-fashioned one-liners and brutal action all with complete passion. – Ben Rolph, Discussing Film

Johnson also breathes just enough emotion and empathy into the character. – Gregg Katzman, CBR

Johnson is grandiose as Black Adam, leaving his charismatic movie star stamp in every scene. This is perfect casting from more than a physical standpoint. – Jeff Nelson, Showbiz Cheat Sheet

No matter what one might think about this Black Adam movie as a whole, The Rock grabs your attention and keeps it no matter what he’s doing. Johnson is the man. – Todd McCarthy, Deadline Hollywood Daily

His charisma and brooding stares can only take the film so far. – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

Black Adam is perfect for Johnson’s action-figure frame. He just deserves a better first superhero outing than this. – Brian Truitt, USA Today

The problem isn’t that Johnson can’t act — he definitely can! — the problem is that he doesn’t want to. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

What about the Justice Society?

The Justice Society of America nearly steal the movie right from underneath [Johnson] as the film gives them a satisfactory introduction, leaving us wanting more from all of them by the end. – Matt Neglia, Next Best Picture

Aldis Hodge and Pierce Brosnan’s portrayals of Hawkman and Doctor Fate are both equally brilliant. – Ben Rolph, Discussing Film

Brosnan is a natural in the role of Fate and it’s a wonder how no one tapped on his talents sooner for a superhero role. Hodge is just as great in the film. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

Pierce Brosnan [is] the standout, even if his character reads like a second-rate Doctor Strange. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Brosnan steals every scene he’s a part of, and the actor is brimming with charisma. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

On the whole, members of the JSA are dealt short shrift, leaving [them] severely underdeveloped. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Noah Centineo and Quintessa Swindell’s Atom Smasher and Cyclone feel like they stumbled in from another movie. – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

Black Adam First Reviews: Action-Packed and Powered by a Charismatic Dwayne Johnson (2)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

How is the action?

Black Adam features a lot more action than most DC movies. – Peter Debruge, Variety

The visual spectacle just keeps coming at you for two hours, and the effects are all so stupendous that you could begin to take it for granted. – Todd McCarthy, Deadline Hollywood Daily

This movie is packed with action. When we say that, we mean it is pretty much non-stop action for the entire movie. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Every fight sequence packs a punch, and the film gets extra creative when utilizing Doctor Fate’s powers. – Ben Rolph, Discussing Film

Collet-Serra manages to make these action scenes exciting in everything from Adam wiping out large armies to a hand-on-hand fight through an apartment with Hawkman. – Ross Bonaime, Collider

There is no wit, no thrill, and no slickness to the action. – Witney Seibold, Slashfilm

Does the film have a worthy villain?

The villain doesn’t do much of anything except provide us with a pretty cool battle, so we will take it — reluctantly. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Unfortunately, there isn’t much depth to the big bad, and he’s ultimately there to offer a ton of action in the final act. – Gregg Katzman, CBR

It’s just a shame that the main villain isn’t stronger here because it does overshadow some of the bombastic action on display. – Ben Rolph, Discussing Film

The single most forgettable villain in comic book movie history. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Black Adam First Reviews: Action-Packed and Powered by a Charismatic Dwayne Johnson (3)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

How is the script?

The screenplay is so action-orientated that it almost completely leaves out the necessary room for characters to breathe. – Ben Rolph, Discussing Film

The script of Black Adam is arguably the weakest part of the film. Character arcs can feel paper-thin and predictable. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

The character development is shallow. – Eric Eisenberg, Cinema Blend

The script does little to help non-DC-scholars here, briefly alluding to nanobots and relics and the Justice Society of America as if other movies had introduced them already. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Does the movie get political?

The picture’s overarching themes – dealing with colonialism and our desperate need for heroes to speak out against tyranny during bleak times – are affecting and effectively crafted. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

There’s enough complexity in the post-colonial politics of Kahndaq to engage adults. – Peter Debruge, Variety

It’s an interesting setup: American “heroes” coming to a foreign country to stop the local hero from protecting the citizens. But if you’re hoping Black Adam will get into the complexities of that, this is not that movie. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Moviegoers may have trouble finding escapist pleasure here, given the knotty global issues the movie raises but doesn’t fully process. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Will we leave feeling hopeful for the DCEU?

Black Adam will help DC fans restore their faith in the DCEU. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Black Adam might not change things single-handedly, but it certainly feels like the start of a new era of DC movies. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

What it sets up for the future of the DCEU is exciting and not to be overlooked. – Ben Rolph, Discussing Film

The film’s whole purpose is to give Black Adam a suitably grand introduction on the assumption that he’ll be pitted against a more deserving adversary soon enough. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Perhaps this is a new way forward for the DCEU, but do we really need them to do exactly what the MCU is doing? – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

Black Adam opens everywhere on October 21, 2022.

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Black Adam First Reviews: Action-Packed and Powered by a Charismatic Dwayne Johnson (2024)
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