Daily Archives: March 9, 2020

Aquaman (2018)

*. You won’t be surprised to hear I didn’t like this one much. It’s a superhero movie. It’s a superhero origin story, which is almost always the worst type of supehero movie. It’s full of posing and heroic cues that get repeated over and over again. And it’s filled with CGI. I mean packed to the gills with CGI. There are monsters. There are armies. There are buildings being destroyed. That pretty much covers everything CGI does well.
*. The art got a lot of praise. I don’t know why. The underwater scenes might as well have come from The Little Mermaid or Finding Nemo. Everything is phosphorescent pink and blue light, rearing seahorses and shark attack crafts. The fight scenes are pure video game, and the final battle looks like it’s taking place in a giant disco.
*. It might have passed muster. Jason Momoa is perfect in the part, giving rise to hopes that DC might have lucked out again as they did with Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman. But everybody else is awful. Willem Dafoe and Nicole Kidman look so embarassed to be here it’s uncomfortable. Patrick Wilson is miscast. Amber Heard doesn’t act like she can act. Might she have peaked in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane? Some actors have a low ceiling.
*. Momoa can’t carry everything on his own, no matter how brawny his shoulders. The scattershot plot involves the usual sort of mythic nonsense about the Chosen One achieving his royal birthright by claiming the holy trident that’s guarded by a giant dragon. It’s that bad. There seem to be big chunks of Black Panther floating around here too. I’m not sure anything original is going on at all.
*. The only thing I found slightly interesting was the ambiguity given the villains. Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is a bad guy, but he does have a legitimate beef with Aquaman and gives the movie it’s only moments of energy. King Orm (Wilson), meanwhile, has some issues with regard to sibling rivalry. I get it.
*. James Wan is a talented director of a very specific type of horror film but has since gone on to bigger things. Just bigger; not better. He feels out of his element here though and I got the sense he was pretty much making the movie off of a template.
*. All the hunky charisma and bright flashing lights in the world can’t make 143 minutes of this anything more than a trial. I did manage to stick with it until the end but it wasn’t easy. Slightly easier than struggling through Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but that’s the best I can say for it. I’m not going to give it any more time here.