Tag Archives: The Sandman

Film Review: Black Adam (2022)

STORY

After sleeping for five thousand years, Teth Adam returns as the savior of his nation Kahndaq from the crime syndicate called ‘Intergang‘.

When his wrath on the cruelty results in casualties, Amanda Waller alarms Hawkman to look after the matter before the consequences turn worse. Hawkman assembles the Justice Society (JSA) and therefore begins a clash of antiheroism between the rights and wrongs occurring in Kahndaq.

Black Adam is finally released after years of speculation and theorizing the certainties of how to connect the dots with this film to the entire DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Being one of the most awaited films from Warner Bros. and DC Comics, Dwayne Johnson left no space to hype his most promising project to date.


COMICS

Not off-topic but the Black Adam film tries to stay in touch with comic roots but not accurately. But it is necessary to speak about a few points that I observed in the film.

Isn’t Black Adam a JSA member?

Yes, it is true that Black Adam was not a part of JSA. He became a JSA member pretty late. If I am not wrong, he wasn’t a part of JSA in the golden, silver, and bronze ages. He became JSA in 2001, even after heroes like Black Canary, Stargirl, and Hawkgirl.

Justice Society of America

Justice Society of America is the first-ever team of superheroes that was introduced in the history of comic books. Editor Sheldon Mayer and writer Gardner Fox came up with this idea and introduced it in the third issue of the All-Star Comics back in 1940, during the great war.

The founding members of that JSA were easily the super-strongest force of superheroes ever assembled for decades. They were Hawkman and Doctor Fate (as dramatized in the film) along with Hourman, The Spectre, Alan Scott‘s Green Lantern, Jay Garrick‘s The Flash, The Atom, and The Sandman.

Al Fonzie

It is amusing to see that Atom Smasher was the nephew of the original Atom Smasher played by our beloved Fonzie, Henry Winkler in a cameo. Henry’s character Al Pratt is The Atom and as mentioned before, one of JSA’s founding members. Worth observing is that Doctor Fate and The Atom are old and hence represent the golden generation of JSA.

The Hunkels

While Cyclone requests an entry permit at the gate, a few of you may happen to notice the screen outside the gate showing up her data. Yes, she indeed is the relative, the granddaughter of Abigail Hunkel a.k.a, Red Tornado. This also means that Red Tornado was also part of the golden team of JSA.

The screen also indicates that Cyclone is a very intelligent student. In comics, she is a student of Harvard University and has a slightly different but still mindblowing score of 4.0 GPA and 1300 SAT.

Character Alteration

The freedom fighter in the film Adrianna Tomaz is a disappointing character alteration. In comics, she actually is Black Adam’s wife Isis and she has a major role in Black Adam’s life as she dies and Black Adam in fury begins to kill the entire human race in the World War III storyline.

Intergang

Kahndaq in the present day is oppressed and occupied by the international mercenaries called ‘Intergang‘. Now, what is Intergang?

Intergang in comics is a crime syndicate that was run by the Mannheims (Boss and his son Ugly) and the Edges (Vincent and his son Morgan). The organization was armed with advanced technology supplied by the New Gods of the planet Apokolips. Yes, Darkseid was the benefactor who was using the organization to disinter the anti-life equation.

Possibility

Now understand the scenario; by the end of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Darkseid’s quest for the anti-life equation continues. Superman flies away. Perhaps Amanda Waller approached him after Suicide Squad‘s project Starro, Peacemaker‘s project Butterfly, and meeting Shazam to reach Kahndaq after the Justice Society failed Amanda. Black Adam’s crusade against the Intergang will run until the news reaches one of Darkseid’s elite.

Here, I am really hoping that Darkseid is not the benefactor of the Intergang just like in comics. Because if DCEU shows his planet supplying arms and technologies to them then how come Darkseid is unable to trace down where the planet earth is? That will be the biggest plothole ever.


PLUSES

The CGI and action sequences are impressive. I loved the fighting between Black Adam and Hawkman/Doctor Fate. Aldis Hodge as Hawkman and Pierce Brosnan as Fate were the best performers in the film. They were heavily suited to the roles and did justice.

The costumes in the film were close to perfection. Even if comic books had a little different idea, it was equally exciting observing the heroes in these costumes.

The mid-credit scene of Superman’s arrival to face Black Adam definitely is exhilarating and the audience expects more from here. Honestly, if I was in Amanda’s position, I would rather send Shazam to Black Adam, not Superman.


MINUSES

Black Adam held a lot of importance for an ever-collapsing DCEU to boost financial expectations, and critical acclaim, and make the film acceptable to the audience. But once again, neither critics accepted nor the audience in majority held the film in supreme compliment like they usually do for Marvel releases.

At a budget of over $200 million, the film has done a global business of only $389.2 million until 13th December which is a sheer disappointment, I assume not even break-in. Wakanda Forever, which was released three weeks after Black Adam has grossed $769 million at a budget of $250 million.

So what went wrong with Black Adam? Was the film overhyped? Is Black Adam that bad? YES.

Only 125 Minutes?

Black Adam lacks a standard screen time under which Black Adam and the Justice Society deserved a lot of minutes to develop the screenplay and the characters.

Black Adam was more of a typical science-fiction action-thriller than a superhero film. In the screen capacity of only two hours, the film had a lot to do to settle the audience with the politics of Kahndaq, the origins of Teth Adam, JSA’s own introduction, and the antagonist of the film. Thus, the writing of the film repeatedly faltered and strongly reminded me of Josstice League.

I think Warner Bros. still haven’t learned from their mistakes or maybe Black Adam is the final film of Walter Hamada‘s troubling era as president and we shall witness improvement under the new presidency of David Zaslav since Warner Bros. and Discovery have merged.

With the given plot, Black Adam was no less than a three-hour film. Due to the extremely short length of the film, the makers failed to dramatize a lot about Teth Adam’s backstory and ran most of that part in the narration.

The worst underdevelopment of the story is the Justice Society. Hawkman introduced and narrated their backstories and assembled them within three minutes. Within three minutes! The screenplay has a plane to catch and also to catch the train to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) like that. The same formula Warner Bros. stick with in the past when Justice League and Suicide Squad were introduced and assembled within a few minutes.

Forced Humor

And then the worst of the kind of the writing element in such a dark and tragic chapter of Teth Adam and the entire plot, needless and unnecessary humor stretched to more than a limit.

The application of jokes on such a serious plot clearly looked intentional by the makers. The jokes were fitting nowhere and not making any sense at all. Let me share with you some ‘fUnNy’ moments for your ha-has. When Adrianna successfully establishes communication between Black Adam and the Justice Society, Atom Smasher is eating a bucket of chicken.

Black Adam breaking the walls to enter the other room instead of using the door looks senseless. Were there no doors five thousand years back? If that happened in the comics is the other thing, just like Batman disappearing in a blink. The character of Karim was annoying and close to being unreal.


Plotholes

Speaking of unrealistic, the writing of this film is very incoherent and full of dumb plotholes. Teth Adam exposes himself to the city and besides a few scores of witnesses in shock, people are generally busy in their usual routine.

A bigger dumb plothole is that Intergang guys are still checking cars at the checkpoint. No one in the intergang is alarmed about Black Adam’s return, it is the boy Amon who indicates them to witness him. No social media or news media breaks the news about something supernatural that has shown up in the city. Why didn’t Fate take the crown of Sabbac from Amon’s bag?

JSA not knowing Teth Adam in the first place and believe it to be a myth looks displaced. Many JSA members have been on different planets for thousands and maybe millions of years. How come they do not understand how to put up a fight against Teth Adam?

Why didn’t Hawkman assemble a team of veterans who were more experienced than the rookies, Cyclone and Atom Smasher? Cyclone and Atom Smasher were like some rookie dance extras who were promoted by their managers due to a lack of manpower. This was the best chance to introduce Gardner Fox’s most iconic JSA team to fight against Black Adam. Only Hawkman and Doctor Fate appeared.

Below-par Direction

Black Adam heavily suffers from a below-par direction. There is not a single shot that builds in the audience with some excellent cinematic impact.

There is one shot where Black Adam’s son dies. Instead of investing one solid screen minute in Dwayne as the father of the dead son, the director flew him away with rage.

Amon’s uninspiring speech in such a low voice pitch to unite Kahndaq people to fight, skating to mom and leading the band of Kahndaq people furiously marching the street was so cheesy, so cringy, and so mainstream Bollywood. Another irritation is the unstoppable background score and which is too unimpressive. It kept playing on our ears and torturing us.


CLOSING REMARKS

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam reminds me of Dwayne Johnson but not Black Adam. His acting is very restricted and doesn’t bother to test his limits. There is so much tragedy in his story but Dwayne’s performance is nowhere flexible.

The story had potential but badly lacked direction. Black Adam is like a Bollywood film with a gigantic budget. It is a visual spectacle and popcorn-grabbing entertainer. But for the superhero genre, Black Adam is just another disappointment in the DC Extended Universe.

RATINGS: 4/10


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TV Review: The Sandman

STORY

To those who are new to this Sandman world, the one fact you need to understand about this drama and comic book story of The Sandman is that the story is about a dysfunctional family called ‘The Endless‘. And they are seven siblings in different forms. And they are Death, Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Destruction, and Dream.

‘The Sandman’ centrally focuses on Lord Morpheus, the ruler of Dreaming and the king of dreams. One day, he is captured by the occultist Roderick Burgress and is imprisoned for more than a hundred years until he gets a chance to escape and return. But when he returns to Dreaming, he witnesses it in a terrible state. Along with his only remaining loyalist and librarian Lucienne, Morpheus travels to different worlds and timelines to restore order to his kingdom, clean the mess and fix the chaos that occurred in his long absence.


PRODUCTION

After decades of pulling attempts to come up with a perfect project to execute for either film or television for one of the most acclaimed comics of all time, Netflix eventually succeeds in shaping the best possible adaptation the global audience would have ever demanded. The show has its flaws but the most important valuation to observe is the graphic detailing and writing of one of the most complex comic book stories.

The show is handled with care by some influential writers of the film and comics. Allan Heinberg is well-known for Young Avengers and JLA series while David S. Goyer is widely acclaimed for writing the Blade and Dark Knight trilogies and co. writing Call of Duty video games. The main showrunner is Neil Gaiman, the writer, and creator of The Sandman. So when the God of this universe is running this show, then there is neither a question nor disapproval about dramatizing his creation.

I am usually against taking liberty from the major elements of the original writing that includes the fundamentals of the characters. But at the same time if the author or the creator doesn’t object or holds the creative control of the film or tv show based on his/her own writing, then even if I find the changes to be in the wrong direction, I find no reason to object because the creator himself/herself is the control head and approves the developments.


PLUSSES

There were many reasons that established the theory or a prediction that ‘The Sandman’ will be praised and accepted once it is released on Netflix. One reason is that the original work has a massive following. Then, as mentioned above, Neil Gaiman himself is the showrunner so whoever the director he chooses to execute their writings, he knows the job is done with satisfaction.

Another plus is the extraordinary production budget that is quite understood after the viewers have enjoyed the luxury of watching some stunning visuals. And then the casting is excellent. Tom Sturridge as Dream and Boyd Holbrook as Corinthian are examples of accurate picks. Even for supporting but important roles, very well-known actors like Charles Dance, David Thewlis, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Stephen Fry, Souad Faress, Nina Wadia, Gwendoline Christie, Meera Syal, and Jenna Coleman make rounds in a few episodes. If that wasn’t enough, we heard memorable voices of Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven and Mark Hamill as Mervyn Pumpkinhead too.

The continuity of the screenplay is intrigued with a thoughtful and metaphorical portion of understanding some dark elements of life. The episode with Dream’s sister Death is very touching and upsetting but is also my favorite of the show. A kind of perception in which a human is made aware of his/her death by the angel that begins with contacting them and communicating. The whole process is so well dramatized.

This is followed by Dream reminiscing about his centuries-old friendship with Hob Gadling when he grants a customer’s will to live forever back in the 14th century and keeps meeting him once every hundred years in the same bar. This idea touched me and began to question myself, what if time travel was ever true? What if all of us could travel to any timeline, meet random people, speak to them in different centuries, just like that. Those who are deeply concerned about dreams like me will agree to me that dreamers deserve to have a companion or a truly loyal friend in his/her dream. Such an idea can only exist in dreams and Lord Morpheus, the king of dreams, is the key to all this stretch.

Then there is Doctor Destiny‘s dystopian take on the human race circulating their lives around truths and lies that he tests at a diner. That whole episode is superbly stretched to make his point.


MINUSES

A few portions of writing and aesthetics are not to my satisfaction. Netflix with its cult application of political correctness makes the entire dramatizing of the original writing an agenda to moralize forced inclusivity. Although the creator Neil Gaiman has no objection at all, but this is not the first time at all. The direction clearly indicates making many characters homosexual has a purpose. I am not against this form of diversity, I support it, but there should be a method of addressing it through the story instead of dramatizing it like a protest.

Amongst all the characters, the one actor that I am not convinced of selection is Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar. Because she looked more angelic than the devil in the role. If the showrunners were adamant to go for a female Lucifer then they should have picked an actress with a lot darker persona. A female Lucifer had to be someone with more devil or gothic vibes. Any of Eva Green, Krysten Ritter, Cate Blanchett, or Helena Bonham Carter would have made superb Lucifer.


COMIC ADAPTATION

This is actually another ‘PLUS’ element but I want to address it separately due to a broad detailing a comic geek can speak and emphasize. We comic book readers generally have been raising this matter for a couple of decades that a television show or a film usually doesn’t do justice while translating the comic pages into this medium.

Because it is hard to deliver the same impact to the viewers that the readers had when they read that all. And it is admirable to observe how ‘The Sandman’ successfully developed a lot of moments from the graphic issues. And at some scenes, even the whole dialogue of a few particular scenes is delivered in the same way.

I wonder how every Sandman reader would have reacted when Death showed up to Dream followed by a conversation when they were sitting together.

Or when John Dee was thanked.

In a very interesting sequence, imprisoned former queen of the First People, Nada briefly appears whose eyes catch Dream’s figure passing from her prison and calls him Kai’ckul. The whole scene is pictured in the comics and will definitely proceed in the second season as showrunner Allen Heinberg has confirmed to one of the sources.

The terrible state of the Dreaming after Lord Morpheus returns is all accurately depicted.

Desire’s tall naked statue Threshold, the fortress of Desire is taken from the beginning of the second volume, The Doll’s House.

Dream’s centuries-old friendship with Hobb Gadling was well translated from the pages. The entire table-talk of centuries constitutes from issue#13.

The whole 24-hour diner episode happened in issue#6 called 24 Hours which is considered one of the darkest and the most horrific tales in comics history.

The whole Dream vs Lucifer challenge is well dramatized. In fact, comics had a lengthier challenge if I am not mistaken.

Dream’s meeting with ‘The Three‘ had a darker portrayal than comics.

Dream and Corinthian face-off exactly happened in the convention just like issue#14.

Even Corinthian stabbing Dream’s palm was covered.

Gilbert getting scared of Corinthian was different in the show. He actually lost his stature when Corinthian joins him in the elevator.


CLOSING REMARKS

There is so much to talk about ‘The Sandman’. But I hope the quality that the showrunners have settled the story in and the aesthetics that has mesmerized us audience shall be maintained for the future.

I am hoping that the show must be stretched to at least five seasons to cover all the aspects and elements of the writing. The Sandman is the best adapted comic book-based television show that I have watched. I recommend all the viewers who loved the show, to read the original content.

The Sandman is a 75-issue storyline that was written in seven years. This was followed by many spin-offs and Neil Gaiman wrote a few of them. But ‘Overture‘ and ‘The Dream Hunters‘ are those that must be read. Especially, Overture because it is the prequel of the entire Sandman story.

To those, who are very interested to watch a fantasy drama, The Sandman is currently the best I can think of to recommend.