Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani
I grew up with idolizing Superman. The king of superheroes. It seems that beyond the small screen DC efforts like Smallville, Arrow, etc. that big screen films haven’t done as well as Marvel films. DC often gets criticized for being too “soft” on violence, and horrible CGI (e.g. Superman’s mustache issue). Now they hope that bringing in the biggest action star on the planet, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, will turn DC’s comic films franchise around. With a director whose resume for action is a list of Liam Neeson forgettable thrillers, and a team of three writers who had some early critical success are given the task to shake things up a bit for DC. Although this film has its moments, it still falls way short in delivering epic film that sets a bar higher for comic book films to aspire to.
Here comes the spoilers.
The film opens with an origin story of Teth-Adam rebelling against slavers and a crown of Sabbac. Teth-Adam gains his powers. Then cut to present day where a group of people with a woman named Adrianna are trying to evade past a group known as the Intergang (Bad Guys). Teth-Adam is woken up and he goes on a killing spree in perhaps the most memorable sequence of the film next to the post credit scene that gets the biggest cheers from the audience. He saves Adrianna from an advanced ethereum missile which knocks him unconscious.
Next we get introduced to the Justice Society of America (JSA) and the film acquaints us with Dr Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge). Adrianna’s son is kidnapped and the JSA and Adam have to team up to rescue him. Adam and Hawkman share most of the intense action sequences with a brutal fight and some comedic moments of rescuing people thrown into the sky. There is a flashback scene where Adam reveals how he came to get his powers and then through vengeance and rage destroyed the city of Khandaq. Adrianna believes there is good inside of Adam and she convinces him to work with the JSA to find her son.
Now the issue I have as I normally do with all superhero films is the villain. Give us a montage of the history of the family of heirs to the ancient king of Khandaq. Show their plight to survive with generation after generation building up the resources to come back to obtain the crown of Sabbac. With a knowledge of history and love of his family may be the driving force for the villain. Just as the loss of his family was a driving force for Black Adam which fueled his rage. The villain’s rage can be fueled likewise. Perhaps a lesson in letting go of anger could be more profound if written in subtlety. Also the lesson of feeling weak and small then being given tremendous power could apply to our villain as well as superhero. The old adage of “If you want to see a man’s character, give him power” would apply with that theme.
DC needs to focus on building up great villains that can survive a film or two. Let them sometimes be truly villainous so when our heroes manage against all odds to defeat them it is earned. Let audiences fear and dread that their heroes can lose. Think of how Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame got a lot of things right. One they had a villain audiences feared and also empathized with somewhat. Consequences such as The Hulk’s arm after using the gauntlet, and of course Tony Stark’s sacrifice. These are elements that make for epic superhero films and DC just needs to get some better writer’s to bring these elements to the screenplays.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS.”
Writing Movie Wrongs (MovieWrongs.com) was created by Author Jim West to show how great storytelling is built on strong writing. In each review, he aims to highlight points in film that capture what the medium is capable of, or provide feedback on small improvements that would make a huge difference to the story’s plot. Read more about Jim West at JimWestAuthor.com.