Top positive review
"Something, something, trident."
December 25, 2018
I remember when Aquaman couldn't go an hour without water and how, on Super Friends, he needed rescuing all the time. Look at dude now. I'm not saying that Jason Momoa is primarily responsible for rehabilitating Arthur Curry's image. Before him, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis laid the groundwork in their 2011 comic book run. But because more people watch movies than read comics, Momoa gets credit for cementing Aquaman in our pop culture consciousness as a boss superhero and a legit badass.
If I were to rank these DCEU movies, I'd put AQUAMAN behind WONDER WOMAN, with WONDER WOMAN being easily the best of the lot. You gots to give horrormeister James Wan his propers. He dives, unapologetically, into this hybrid of sci-fi and high fantasy. This movie skews closer to FLASH GORDON than it does to a superhero flick. It's audacious spectacle. It's undersea insanity, rife with mammoth crabs and seahorses mounted as war steeds, and leviathans rising from the depths, and princesses garbed in luminous jellyfish gowns. Soak in the detailed worldbuilding as we're taken for a ride to explore not only the great, sunken city of Atlantis but the other six demesnes that make up the seven undersea kingdoms. Except, one kingdom hasn't been underwater in millennia.
To this riot of ancient, isolationist civilizations comes a reluctant Arthur Curry. See his jaw drop as he beholds the splendor of Atlantis. It's ironic that, in this scenario, my man is the fish out of water. Arthur still wants no part of being a full-fledged hero. He'd rather do the saving on his own time; that way, he's sure to make happy hour. AQUAMAN is an origin story and a quest story, and it takes place after JUSTICE LEAGUE. And, yeah, it still shares continuity with the other DCEU properties - there's one fleeting reference made about Steppenwolf. Me, I'm very familiar with Aquaman's origin story, and the movie clings close enough to the source material. Arthur Curry, product of a lighthouse keeper and a princess of Atlantis doing the brown-chicken-brown-cow. I will say that Arthur's mother, Queen Atlanna - as played by a fierce Nicole Kidman - is an utter badass in the movie.
It's undeniably a visual feast, I say on par with AVATAR. I had big fun watching it, but I had to get past how the story is so very cheesy. The dialogue is corny. Characters indulge in these exaggerated hero poses. They make boastful proclamations where they declare who they are, and you could hear it's in caps. A saving grace is that the movie is self-aware enough to know how corny it's being.
Some are hating on Amber Heard and how she plays Mera. Some say there's no spark between her and Momoa, but those someones can step off. Heard's emoting may not be Merchant Ivory worthy, but there's heat between her and Momoa. And I'm just gratified that they got her action sequences right. I get a thrill each time Mera manipulates hard water, something I'd seen her do so many times in the comics.
Some say AQUAMAN jumped the shark with that one camera shot of an octopus banging on the drums. And it's hard to argue that. I'll just say, by that time, you knew you were in for silly.
Is the plot all over the place? Yes. The story's scattershot. Is it too much CG? Not sure. Do you think they could have achieved these shots with practical effects? I don't think so. However, the third act, when it was all-out war in the depths, and every inch of the screen is crammed with CG-rendered fish waging war, it does take on this look of a swarm of possessed sampler plates from Red Lobster.
I'm an easy mark, so 4 out of 5 stars for AQUAMAN. The vibrant images leap off the screen. Momoa, that larger-than-life bad boy beefcake, seems to be having the time of his life. He's got charisma to burn, and his personal energy carries the movie thru. Ocean Master and Black Manta (great visual design!) come in solid as the adversaries, except those two happen to be Aquaman's two greatest arch-nemeses, so I'm thinking they shot their load when it comes to villains. Who's the big bad in the sequel? They may have to settle for nasty whale hunters or some jerk who decides to pee in the ocean.
There is one end-credit scene, and it turns up in the middle of the credits, and it's underwhelming. No need to stay until the very end as there's nothing but the house lights coming on.