Does the world need a hero, or someone less afraid to get their hands dirty? That’s the (moderately intriguing) question that infuses the otherwise formulaic comic-book movie Black Adam with a measure of ... something. Gravitas? Grit? Grandiloquence? Whatever you call it, it does not lie at the heart of the film. What does is the same molten core of rock-’em, sock-’em hokum we’ve come to expect from almost every other film of this ilk. Rather, it hangs over the CGI-heavy proceedings like a brooding shadow, cooling and darkening the overheated action just enough to make things interesting.
This being an origin story of the title character (Dwayne Johnson), a nearly 5,000-year-old former enslaved person with powers beyond those of any mortal, the film sets the stage with a complicated and turgid prologue (one that is entirely necessary for all except the most invested fans of the DC Comics franchise from which Black Adam has sprung).