'Aquaman' - Fun if you can get on its wavelength [REVIEW]

Aquaman

At least, it's fun at times, I should say

There’s a joke in the show Entourage, I’ve been told (haven’t actually seen the show myself), about how hard making an Aquaman movie would be unless in the hands of someone like James Cameron.

Well, we all know that James Cameron is off making two billion Avatar movies that nobody really wants to see, but James Wan isn’t a bad choice by Warners Brothers, either.

So eat your hearts out HBO.

Aquaman is a new DCEU superhero film that does hail from Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring director James Wan. He also made one of the Fast & Furious movies at one point (the seventh one, I believe), but I’m pretty over that franchise so the less said about that, the better.

Aquaman
credit: YouTube

Set before the events of Justice League (not that anybody really cares because hardly anyone saw Justice League, anyway), Aquaman opens on a lighthouse in Maine, which is where Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) lives alone.

He was alone, at least, until a woman dressed in a fancy outfit (I guess? Some of the costumes in Aquaman are indeed fancy and cool but some of them are also just flat-out ridiculous) washed up on his shore.

The woman later identifies herself as Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) — the heir to the throne of Atlantis, an underwater palace that does actually exists, unbeknownst to mankind.

Atlanna claims she’s never going back to Atlantis, though, as her hand has been forced into an arranged marriage that she wants no part of whatsoever. Instead, she quickly falls for Thomas, and before either one of them really knows what hit them, they’re suddenly in love and then have a baby.

Aquaman
credit: YouTube

That baby grows up to be Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), who is the very first half-human half-Atlantean to ever walk the earth.

He’s going to have to do a lot more than just walk, though, once his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) takes the throne of Atlantis and then threatens to declare war on all humankind.

I mean, technically Arthur could have just swam down there and claimed the throne for himself at any given moment, but he’s all tough and being the reluctant hero type so they, of course, are going to draw that whole storyline out.

While Orm’s off trying to unite the rulers of the seven seas to join his war — that being King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren) and an assortment of other lobster of fish hybrids — Arthur then has to team up with Nereus’s daughter, Mera (Amber Heard), and his old trainer, Vulko (Willem Dafoe), to find a way to stop his evil plan from happening.

Aquaman
credit: YouTube

That somehow results in a plot to find the lost trident of Poseidon, which all feels very reminiscent of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie in not-so-great of a way. This movie really starts to go off the rails after a while.

Which is strange before, for some time at least, I was really enjoying Aquaman and all the goofiness around it.

The movie starts off strong, as we’re thrown into this love story between Kidman and Morrison that surprisingly works really well. Maybe it’s because the two of them are so talented and have such good chemistry together or maybe it’s because pretty much the entire movie hinges on their romance, but the scenes between the two of them wound up being some of the best moments of the whole movie.

There’s also this really cool and well-shot action scene at the beginning of the film (even if the villains do kind of look like power rangers), making me think Aquaman was going to be something really cool and special.

Aquaman
credit: YouTube

Then, however, we get to an adult version of Arthur and one thing becomes immediately apparent — this movie is cheesy as hell.

Granted, we probably should have expected a movie about a guy who talks to fish to be cheesy as hell, but I’m willing to bet that even the most die-hard of die-hard Aquaman fans out there weren’t quite level for this. I’m talking octopus playing a drum-kit level of cheese here, folks.

At some point, I was able to get into all the goofiness the film offered. Yes, it stands completely apart from the opening of the film, but it’s pretty hard to sit straight-faced when you’ve got seahorses and lobster-people going toe-to-toe in a giant battle sequence.

Which is the one thing I really did like about Aquaman — this movie isn’t afraid to get weird. The days where we need every comic-book to be grounded in some sort of recognizability are gone. They’re throwing everything and anything at us in this one, and while that was once considered to be really nerdy, it’s now mainstream.

Aquaman
credit: YouTube

Sadly, though, that can’t last either. While it manages to be corny and fun for some time, Aquaman eventually descends to the level where it’s just corny and dumb.

By the one-hour mark, the writing goes completely out the window as we just move from one giant CGI set-piece to another in a way that reminded me of John Carter. There isn’t actually any character building or plot that’s really going on in any of these scenes, it’s just a whole lot of nonsense that’s meant to entertain us.

Occasionally, it actually succeeds at doing so, as there’s one sequence involving a bunch of nightmarish trench-creatures that felt very James Wan. Most of the time, though, the movie is just so bloated that you’re just sitting there, begging for a minute to breathe until you eventually check out altogether.

Which is why there is no reason, whatsoever, this movie needed to be 2 hours and 23 minutes. You could easily cut out a good thirty minutes of this film and it would have been a much smoother, more enjoyable ride.

Aquaman
credit: YouTube

Like, for example, the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) storyline adds nothing to this movie. I’m aware that Black Manta is essentially Arthur Curry’s version of the Joker, but, here, he’s so shoe-horned and undeveloped that he’s clearly on in the movie for fan-service and to set up future sequels.

For what it’s worth, Jason Momoa is fun as the lead role. He might not have the same amount of charisma as someone like Chris Pratt does and his character’s actual powers might be super non-descriptive (Why is he the only one who can talk to fish? Why is he basically Superman in the water but then almost dies when a building falls on him? etc.), but Momoa is still putting his best foot forward and trying to have fun with this thing.

Everyone else though, apart from Kidman and Morrison, take their roles so seriously that they feel like they’re in a completely different movie. While Patrick Wilson and Willem Dafoe are two incredibly talented actors, they’re both so stern and stone-faced in Aquaman that it’s like they don’t realize this is a movie about weaponized great white sharks.

Amber Heard really doesn’t work in here, either. No disrespect to Heard or her acting career, but she kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in Aquaman and I really didn’t buy any romantic chemistry that was set-up between her and Momoa.

Aquaman
credit: YouTube

Ultimately, it comes down to what you want out of Aquaman. If all you want to see is some underwater battle scenes and an orange suit, you’ll get what you want out of the movie. I, however, was hoping for something more, especially given Wan’s involvement. I didn’t get that from this movie. While there is some fun to be had, the overall silliness, relentless CGI, cringe-worthy humor and scatter-brained writing just took too big of a toll on me.

Watch the trailer for Aquaman here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!

'Aquaman' - Fun if you can get on its wavelength [REVIEW]
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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.

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