One thing that I can confidently say about Aquaman is that it tries really hard not to disappoint. I mean, this movie really goes for it! In fact, Aquaman is a lot of fun if you turn off your brain. Sure, much of the movie is just plain dumb and makes no sense and the science is way off and I’m not even sure if it’s accurate to the comics, which I don’t really care much about anyway. (I grew up watching the Justice League cartoon on television, so that’s really my only experience with Aquaman previous to this film outing.) The whole thing is kind of a beautiful mess. But the eleven year-old version of me thinks Aquaman might be the the greatest superhero movie I’ve ever seen! So depending exactly on who you are, well, age-wise, you are going to have a great time at the movies or you’ll be shrugging your shoulders frustrated… and you might also enjoy it.
“…the eleven year-old version of me thinks Aquaman might be the the greatest superhero movie I’ve ever seen!”
Now, we’ve all seen this story before. It’s Aquaman’s origin story as he discovers both his human side and the, well, his “aqua-side.” Arthur “Aquaman” Curry is faced with a series of impossible challenges and he must learn from his failures. You’ve seen this kind of superhero movie many times before, so for me, all the details of the story don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. So, let’s just dive right delve the good, the bad, and, well the seaworthy.
Aquaman is pure fun. Sure, it’s like nine different movies combined into one movie like a buffet in Vegas filling your plate with everything you love that may or may not go together. It’s part Star Wars, part Avatar, part Indiana Jones, part superhero/Marvel/heroes journey all rolled into one.
Nicole Kidman as Aquaman’s mother is truly a bad a*s in an opening action sequences that will leave you breathless. Tridents are the new lightsaber! Jason Momoa is just a blast to watch. I could you definitely see myself wanting to hang out with Aquaman (and there’s a great joke about that in the movie). Aquaman has a good sense of humor, not like Batman who can be a bit of a downer.
One thing I believe we all seek in a blockbuster movie is spectacle and originality — show me something I’ve never seen. (Mainly because the stories for tentpole blockbusters tend to be predictable.) The epic action sequences are really what make Aquaman different than any superhero film you’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s more like a Star Wars movie if it were all set underwater. The final third features an epic battle between several sea armies squaring off as Aquaman faces his half brother, the film’s major villain. And these underwater action sequences are truly unlike anything in a film of this type. (Marvel, hey, where’s your Namor movie?) And once you think it’s gone over the top, it just goes off the rails and in all the best ways. Yes, there is an octopus playing the drums in a band underwater along with several epic battles. This is where the film really succeed and you truly must experience it in IMAX. Nearly the entire film is in IMAX and sometimes it feel as if you’re looking right into a massive aquarium.
“…like a Star Wars movie if it were set underwater…”
Some of the performances are just off, including the always reliable Willem Dafoe. It does feel like the actors are, at many times, standing in front of some green screen surrounded by people in motion capture outfits. You don’t get the sense that the actors are immersed in the world, they are just props. And the science, let’s not even get into that. The fact that aqua people can just speak underwater with their hair kind of floating about looks unnatural. It’s dumb and it makes no sense, but you forgive this flaw and you get used to it. I guess in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. Aqua people, yes, they speak underwater and it looks weird, but so what?
The action sequences, while amazing, also get a bit tiresome. There are few breaks in the action for, well, character exploration or some kind of breather. The biggest flaw of Aquaman is the running time. The film seems to mainly be targeting a younger audience and it’s two and a half hours. That’s not a bad thing, however, you’re not likely to find single-digit aged kids with the patience to sit still for a film that feels overly long. The film does suffer from its girthy running time. I would say that any kids looking to have a good time, and they absolutely will have a great time at Aquaman, they’ll lose patience by the end and they’re going to just hope for the film to be over with. There’s enough story here for two films, so it’s a victim of perhaps being overly ambitious (part of the problem with that Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern movie.) And I’m guessing that there are still a lot of deleted scenes!
“Marvel, hey, where’s your Namor movie?”
As for the seaworthiness, well Aquaman is “see worthy.” (Yes I just did that. A horrible pun. The bottom of the barrel of dad jokes. I know. Apologies. You try writing a review about a fish man superhero and not try to work in some kind of pun. It’s gonna happen accidentally anyways.) Aquaman is worth seeing if only for its original visuals and the grand vision from director James Wan. As a whole, it is a bit of a mess and ends up being an exhausting experience that would’ve benefited from some judicious editing. Less is more and, I guess I never thought I would write this statement, less Jason Momoa might be better. But Mamoa is, aside from the special-effects, the best part about the movie. Aquaman is DC movies latest attempt to get their cinematic universe back on track, and frankly, it almost does the trick. As for the rating I would assign to this film, the present-day version of me would give it a 6 out of 10, but the eleven year-old me had a blast and that kid will bestow an enthusiastic 8. Aquaman is the king of the seas, just put your brain on pause and let the movie wash over you.
Aquaman (2018) Directed by James Wan. Written by David Leslie, screenplay by Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, story by Geoff Johns & James Wan and Will Beall. Aquaman created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lungren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Randall Park, Ludi Lin.
8 out of 10