Review: Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman (dir. James Wan, 2018) – To preserve peace between land and sea, Arthur Curry must find the trident that will prove his worth as the King of Atlantis.

Verdict

The Atlantean King’s first solo outing gets inundated with one too many villains, including a leaden script.

2/5

Review

It was never Arthur’s intent to vie for the throne. But he soon finds his hand forced when the next heir in line threatens to wage a dangerous war. Having left his world behind at a young age, the late King’s firstborn son must find a sacred weapon, which will prove his worth to rule a world in disarray.

The to-be King is no heir of Camelot, but borne of the Atlantean Queen and a mortal lighthouse keeper. As the son of star-crossed lovers from two worlds, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) knows better than anyone about unity. It takes little convincing for him to get his quest for peace started, as his initial reluctance quickly washes off to make room for explosive underwater action.

Villainy floods in unending waves. On land, David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) takes on the mantle of the Black Manta, bent on revenge against the hero responsible for his father’s death.

Aquaman

“I said Manta, not Panther.”

In the sea, sibling rivalry brews a bitter battle between Arthur and his half brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), the latter intent on war against the surface world. Most of the damage unfortunately comes of cringe-worthy proclamations and awkward banter. Even Jason Momoa could not make “I call it an ass-whooping” sound as cool as it must have been in the writers’ heads.

The nemesis of many comic book movies Exposition also makes a return. Watch Arthur struggle to maintain his calm, while enduring the fusillade of origin stories in frustratingly dull monologues. You know there is a serious mistake when Willem Dafoe as Vulko may just qualify as the dullest Merlin in Arthurian history.

Aquaman
“I memorised the script. Didn’t you?”

Loud action attempts to drown out the flaws of the screenplay. A fiery set piece in Sicily sees Princess Mera (Amber Heard) reveal her superpowers in parkour, and turning wine into powerful Super Soakers. Back in the ocean, the threat of vile sea creatures places James Wan back into effective horror territory.

The background of which is Atlantis, gorgeous and almost impressive enough to distract the audience from the unconvincing romance between Arthur and Mera. Almost. Given how difficult it is to connect with the leads emotionally, there remains little to care about.

But this turbulent storm births a silver lining for the DC cinematic universe. Jason Momoa shines as Aquaman, making the character his own and breaking further away from the campy iteration in the comic pages. While the script does him few favours, there is no superhero more fun to watch than his grinning, beer-chugging metalhead.

Besides, where else in the world would we ever get to witness an octopus, unleashing his drumming magic with all eight freaking limbs? That’s right – this damn movie. You go, Topo!

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15 thoughts on “Review: Aquaman (2018)”

    1. I’m surprised by how well Aquaman’s doing at the box office. But then again, there IS much to like about the underwater madness; I am certainly down with the idea of battle sharks! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I thought the character development (or tlack thereof) was attrocious, the characters were bland, and the story was sloppy. Also, it felt like every typical 90s gang movie.

            But yes, you’re right there!

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  1. “Hahaha I memorized the script, didn’t you?”

    Personally, I’m burning out on the glut of all these superhero movies. There are too many. There’s no excitement anymore. It’s all just “oh look, another one.” I’m glad this one was fun, at least. Maybe I’ll see it eventually. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must admit I had a blast with it. I kinda like the way it fully and completely embraces the nuttiness of it all. I know a lot of people who like it even more than me. But you aren’t alone. Several had struggled to find anything to latch onto.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Siblings fighting over the throne. Yawn. Sounds very Thor-ish. I didn’t like this take on Aquaman in the Justice League so I am not at all interested in watching this movie. Sound like I’m not missing out on much!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The dialogue made me want to drown myself. Momoa and Heard have zero chemistry. The only person seem to be having fun is weirdly Patrick Wilson, the flimsiest villain since Malekith or Michael Shannon’s Zod. But I love that Wilson GOES for it, shouting, hamming it up. Nicole Kidman, too, seems to relish the regal stature of Atlanna. Frankly, she elevates the whole enterprise.

    I have my gripes but I LOVE that the film gets to be weird. Dolph Lundgren riding a seahorse, an octopus banging on battle drums, Momoa commanding a Kaiju. It’s so nice to see the DCEU cut loose. I just wish they were equally creative with the characters and “humor.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cast is definitely Aquaman’s strength, as is the weirdness under the sea. They definitely went all out with the creatures! But the dialogue… urgh. Whoever read the script out loud and thought it was a good idea? 😂

      Like

      1. Lol I’ll admit, some things were funny. The face Mera makes when Arthur said he could’ve pee’d on the thing, and her eating the flower to blend in got a good laugh. But oh man, the “he smells terrible” joke landed with a thud (what is this, the ’80s?) and their so-called “interaction” in the desert made me want to sink in my seat.

        I could tell a lot of the prep went into the visual effects. Why oh why couldn’t they do that with the script? 😫

        Liked by 1 person

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