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Black Adam (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

This past October, Dwayne Johnson’s long courted passion project over at DC of bringing to life a film about the Shazam villain Black Adam, finally unleashed upon audiences. What promised to change the hierarchy of the DC Universe did so in many ways I think it did not plan on. Nonetheless, Johnson’s project DID finally get made. And now its coming to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on January 3rd, making it the first superhero comic book movie on home video in the year of 2023. This comes loaded with extras and a Dolby Atmos track. Pre-order yourself a copy by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review at the bottom of the page.

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Film

In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of complete rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.

A hierarchy was set to be changed with Black Adam. And while the movie didn’t quite accomplish that, behind the scenes it did. This passion project that took about a decade and a half to finally show us with they came up with, winds up falling quite short on a larger scale, but winds up being an okay littler superhero action picture. There are some highlights and plusses to it, but overall this is a movie that doesn’t seem to have the large ambitions its marketing told us and mainly plays around like a nifty B-movie with a lesser known DC villain surrounded by B-level or below heroes to combat.

Kahndaq is pretty much where this entire film takes place. Neither Black Adam or his enemies really show any desire to leave ever. And that’s not necessarily bad, as Gotham and Metropolis are film strongholds for their heroes as well. But this God of a villain as well as the overall villain seemingly might want some bigger ambitions considering the extents of their powers. Nonetheless, the action sequences set here feel a bit monotonous in their execution and at times you feel bad watching this city just get crumbled on by “heroes” and cracking some jokes about it while they are at it.

The big CG battles also come across quite odd, too. Shot in a volume-like way, some of the acting struggles to mesh. There are many a big chase moment or scene with plenty of crashing and whatnot where actors are talking to each other and having exchanges with regular voices at quite large distances. Its bizarre to take  in, but its how it is. There are some neat aspects of the action, some keeping in line with the Snyder vision that this DCEU kicked off with. The film is also cut at such a rapid pace as well. The first 40 minutes or so go at a breakneck place, they made one of the most fun cinematic adventures, exploring caverns, obnoxious because you couldn’t see anything going on because it kept cutting ever couple seconds.

While complaints and criticisms of Black Adam are pretty easy to come by, its still not some completely awful movie. Its a pretty decent, watch once, eat popcorn, then move on with your life kinda movie. I rather liked Aldis Hodge, Pierce Brosnan and Sarah Shahi in the film. They really elevate any scene they are in and make it that much more entertaining of a movie. Its a wonder too, if this hadn’t embraced its connection to Zachary Levi’s Shazam film, if it couldn’t have been more fun or engaging. Instead its just another one of those bad guy but he’s really a good guy movies.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are from the standard Blu-ray, not from the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Black Adam arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a nice, polished looking image that is crisp, sharp and really showcasing a strong looking superhero movie at home. There’s good color saturation and very find details on display. At times the movie does look pretty big in scale and has some very nice depth of field.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty solid and above average Scale is all right but I’m wondering if there are limitations to that using the volume method. Movements are smooth and natural with no issues of motion distortion coming from rapid camera pans or action sequences.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and natural. There’s a nice fine texture and pattern visible, especially on Black Adam’s suit that is impressive. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: While this one is loaded with desert, the contrast on fabrics, magic stuff and the Cyclone using her powers really does pop quite nicely. There is a good saturation and solid HDR usage which crafts a glow from the lightning, beams and other mystical attack things.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are given from any reasonable distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio, , French 5.1 Dolby Digital, German Dolby Atmos, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, German Descriptive Audio, Italian Dolby Atmos, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital,Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: Black Adam comes with a Dolby Atmos track that sounds eerily similar to the rival Marvel Studios releases over at Disney. I had to crank this one up a few notches and it carried that low volume sounding mix that you wanted to burst in moments it just didn’t. Overall, while I compare it to those, this was incrementally better than those Marvel releases on those terms.

Height: From up top you get plenty of action, considering this includes flying characters, beams and a guy who turns into a giant. Debris falls, people fly over, tombs echo and plenty more come from the top.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer hits with just enough strength in the action sequences, be it an explosion, magic burst, gunshot or punch. But it still leaves you wishing it would have just hit a tad harder.

Surround Sound Presentation: The room is well encompassed and there are a lot of fun moments with unique sounds contribution from the sides and rear to help filter out the ambiance and create a unique spot in the room or capture something that just moved off screen. Sound rolls with good power across the room and with good accuracy.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extras

Black Adam comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. All extras are on the standard Blu-ray disc.

The History of Black Adam (HD, 10:08) – Sarah Shahi hosts a special on the origins of the character that include interviews with Dwayne Johnson and multiple talking head comics gurus.

Who is The Justice Society? (HD, 14:16) – Aldis Hodge hosts a special similar to the previous one, just with the Justice Society as the topic of the discussion.

From Soul to Screen (HD, 6:09) – “He was one of the few that looked like me”. This featurette talks this being a passion project with its origins in the mid-2000s. The decision to split Shazam and Black Adam is touched upon here.

Black Adam: A Flawed Hero (HD, 5:09) – This piece focuses on what sets Black Adam apart, from the tone of the film to the world in which this anti-hero lives.

Black Adam: New Tech In An Old World (HD, 4:49) – A featurette that goes over how to blend the past, present and futuristic scenarios and areas in the film and how it informs the tech. This also goes over how they shot many of the special effects sequences with LED screens in a volume and such.

Black Adam: Taking Flight (HD, 3:32) – Subject says it all, this is about how they made him fly.

Kahndaq: Designing a Nation (HD, 6:27) – Here, we learn how they built the city of Kahndaq for the film. It also goes over what the city means to the character of Black Adam and its importance in the film.

The ROCK of Eternity (HD, 5:42) – A piece on the lore and the mythological objects that help to fuel the story. “So these are our wizard sticks” was a phrase in this that kinda made me giggle.

Costumes Make The Hero (HD, 8:25) – All about the design and costuming for the film. “I don’t think I’ve ever looked cooler on film” says Aldis Hodge.

Black Adam: A New Type Of Action (HD, 6:38) – “This is the kind of movie that comes along only once in a career” says Johnson. Here’s a piece on the scope, scale and execution of the action in the film.

Summary

Black Adam is entertaining but falls plenty short of being in the top tier of the DC movies, probably battling in the bottom-middle somewhere. The 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray presentation has great video, but an Atmos track I was wanting more from. Extras are a mix of educating and fluff, but has plenty to keep the fun going after the credits. A solid pick up at a good sale price.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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