An Aquaman review by John S.
I tend to really enjoy brightly colored spectacle films full of trippy effects, alien worlds, and strange characters. Aquaman has almost all of those things, but like that bag of neon rainbow sour Skittles, I wouldn’t look for any real substance inside the DayGlo packaging.
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the film because I truly did, and I don’t want to say it’s a bad movie, even though it really kinda is. I’m tempted to compare it to a film I genuinely love that I know is considered to be a campy, stupid film, and that is Flash Gordon. But what’s stopping me is the fact that Flash Gordon had far superior dialog, acting and character moments. No, Aquaman is more of a nitro fueled version of the old silent film La Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). An odd fun film where you don’t need words to be rocketed to other worlds.
All that said, let’s get into the good, bad and fishy of it.
If there is one thing Aquaman has going for it, its good looks. Man alive, it has a brilliant and colorful aesthetic. The art direction and design of the people, places and seafood are all so wondrous. From the Atlanean surface suits and weapons to the dazzling underwater cities and realms, the movie really does take you on a fantastic visual trip under the sea.
POW! ZAP! POP! Oh boy are the action and fight scenes (aside from the most important one) epic and intense. From laser blasts to fist fights, rooftop escapes and enormous underwater battles, the film offers up the whole sushi bar when it comes to action. It even manages to throw in a few lobster claws on the side.
One incredibly stunning scene has an army of scary fish-men swarm a boat at night while bathed in red light. It’s chilling and satisfyingly Lovecraftian.
I am glad that DC and WB have finally stumbled onto what has to be the right visual tone for the DC movie Universe (DCEU). It’s only a shame they couldn’t bring so much vibrancy to Superman or Wonder Woman, or the dialogue from those two flicks to A.M. In a perfect aquarium…
Hold on to your fishy butts, here comes the frying pan. Aside from a few decent enough performances, the character interaction was awful. I felt really bad for all the actors, as the lines they had to work with were as bland as that unflavored variety of Goldfish Crackers. In the opening scene, they play a jarringly cheesy guitar riff to add a little punch to lines delivered by Mamoa’s Aquaman. “Permission to come aboard?” BREEEEEEOWWW. Fortunately, they abandon this after the third time in just 5 minutes. Overall, it would be hard to sit down at a coffee shop with your mates and not come up with better dialogue just by simply recording your random conversations about Synth-wave music or orange political nightmares.
It’s not just the dialogue that hurts the script though. There are some really stupid and gratuitous scenes where it almost seems like Director Wan was having too much fun playing the role of Fonzie jumping the damned shark.
Speaking of jumping the shark…
I could go on for days about underwater cars that are slower than the Atlanteans swim, Octopus drummers, little boys swimming like dolphins with a pod of actual dolphins, Amber Heard looking distractingly like Disney’s the Little Mermaid and all that jazz—but I’d be here forever. That said…
There is a scene where Mera, (Heard), is driving with Arthur (Mamoa) in her fish car to Atlantis. If you aren’t too overwhelmed by the spectacle, you might be wondering why a race of people who can swim at insane speeds are stuck in traffic outside of the city. Can’t they just swim in?
Later in the film, there is a montage where sea pirate and secondary villain Black Manta take apart a prototype Atlantean super weapon. Using a Philips head screwdriver, they turn it into a laser shooting helmet/scuba suit. Are we really meant to believe Manta is a super genius engineer that can manipulate alien technology all by himself using primitive human tools? GTFO!
Remember when Ant-Man went into the quantum realm and found Janet’s mom stuck there and she had survived by making make-shift Armor out of random junk? Remember when he saves her and reunites her with her family? Yeah, I know, wrong movie, except all of that happens in Aquaman too.
Aquaman is a bad movie and a good time. It doesn’t reach the heights of other kaleidoscopic action movies like the wonderful Thor Ragnorok, but it’s far more enjoyable than similar fantasy sci-fi epics like Valerian. I just wish they had written better lines so that the completely forgettable characters could have been enjoyable. A part of me hates that this film is doing so well at the Box-office because it means the DCEU will continue despite the majority of the movies being terrible. At the same time you want movies to do well and actors you like to succeed. Sigh.
I give Aquaman a 6.5/10 Swedish Fish