By Michael Foust, Crosswalk.com
Adrianna Tomaz is a brilliant and determined woman who left her well-paying professorship at the university in order to fight and save her people: the oppressed citizens of Kahndaq.
Some 5,000 years ago, Kahndaq was the worldwide center of power and enlightenment. It preceded Rome and even Egypt. It was Earth's first self-governing nation.
But then Kahndaq fell.
Today, Kahndaq is a shadow of its former self, occupied by foreign mercenaries who place severe restrictions on the citizens.
Adrianna, though, is on an Indiana Jones-like hunt for the "Crown of Sabbac," an ancient magical relic that is made of the mysterious mineral eternium and was used to enslave the people of Kahndaq. If Adrianna can find the crown – she believes – then her people can be free.
The new DC/Warner Bros. film Black Adam (PG-13) tells the story of Adrianna's quest to free her people and her accidental awakening of Kahndaq's supposed savior, Teth-Adam ("Black Adam"), who has God-like powers and is on a journey for revenge.
Dwayne Johnson stars in the lead role. Sarah Shahi portrays Adrianna.
Here are four things you should know:
1. It Is an 'Antihero' Movie
Don't expect Johnson's Black Adam character to exhibit the qualities of Superman, Wonder Woman or even Batman. Black Adam is an antihero, a morally ambiguous character who meanders between doing right and (enjoying) doing wrong. Granted, Black Adam has far more heroic qualities than Deadpool, but he's far from being the squeaky-clean superhero that is Superman. He carries villains high into the sky and drops them to their death, merely for fun.
"I am not peaceful. Nor do I surrender," he says.
To Black Adam, grace and mercy are foreign concepts. He's also arrogant. ("I kneel before no one.”) With super-speed, super-strength and the ability to fly through the sky, he is super-dangerous.
Black Adam is the 12th film in the so-called DC Extended Universe, which began with 2013's Man of Steel. (We see a well-known DC character in a mid-credit scene.)
2. It Introduces Other Superheroes, Too
Black Adam isn't the only superhero in the film. We're also introduced to a new slate of super-powered crusaders in the "Justice Society," a group of four superheroes whose mission is to protect global stability and restore peace. That puts them on a collision course with Black Adam, even though for much of the film they're fighting the same set of bad guys.
"Heroes don't kill people," says Hawkman, a Justice Society member.
"Well, I do," Black Adam responds.
Hawkman (Aldis Hodge) has super strength and can fly. The other Justice Society members are Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), who has mental powers; Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), who has the ability to become Godzilla-sized; and Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), who has the power to manipulate wind and form twisters.
3. It's about Justice, Revenge and Redemption
At the heart of Black Adam is the conflict between revenge (as represented by Dwayne Johnson's character) and justice (as represented by the Justice Society). Both oppose evil (at least, at times). Yet Teth-Adam/Black Adam is unable to control his superpowers. Instead of justice, he wants revenge.
Some 5,000 years ago, the "Council of Wizards" had placed Teth-Adam/Black Adam in prison because of his vengeful actions.
Adrianna, though, believes Teth-Adam/Black Adam can harness his powers to free her people.
"You are our only hope," her son, Amon, tells him.
Black Adam is a tale about the choice all of us face between good and evil. (Teth-Adam/Black Adam kills the bad guys but also saves Adrianna and her son.) It raises questions about power and temptation.
It's also a tale about redemption, but you have to sit through hundreds of explosions to get there.
4. It's Quite Violent
The film is free of sexuality but includes a moderate amount of language (details below) and quite a bit of violence. We see a man stabbed through the abdomen and tossed off a cliff, his blood flying through the air. We see at least two people shot at point-blank range with pistols. Black Adam electrocutes a man to death (the man's body turns to dust). Toward the end, Black Adam and the Justice Society battle zombie-like creatures. We see a man speared through the chest. Of course, the film includes countless explosions and gun battles, too.
The violence in Black Adam is similar to other superhero films, but the tone is not. It's a little darker and not as fun. It's heavy on action violence and a little light on plot. It's a film that deserves its PG-13 rating.
Black Adam is rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language. Language details: P-ss (2), b---rds (1), h-ll (3), s--t (5), a-- (3), d--n (1).
Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Photo courtesy: ©Alon Amir
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.