Aquaman has made its way to video (even though I have read that it still is playing in some theater markets) and it stars Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry or Aquaman when he is in the water, anyway. I enjoyed this character in Justice League and although a lot of people hated Justice League, I actually enjoyed that film, to a certain extent. There was enough interest for a full length feature film and boy, did we get one. With a run time of almost two and a half hours and directed by horror maven, James Wan.
Aquaman starts out with Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) washing up on shore and taken in by the local lighthouse operator, Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison). The two fall in love and are married. Atlanna gives birth to Arthur Curry shortly before troops from Atlantis arrive and drag Atlanna back to her home in the sea. The rest of Aquaman is a dizzying array of visual effects and endless fight sequences which wore me out after a while. Most of the praise for Aquaman has been that this film is fun. For me, though, Aquaman is a colossal disappointment.
There is really not much of a story in this film. The age old staple of two brothers battling for the throne to lead their kingdom is not a new one and in this film, it is presented in rather dull and uninteresting fashion that is nothing more than a lights and laser show, for the most part. Jason Momoa is a decent actor but his delivery of corny one-liners, designed to elicit laughs falls with a thud. They are cringe worthy, to be honest. Momoa does his best, but the script by Will Beall, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick with some help from director Wan is standard action fare in which the visuals and production values overwhelm the characters and story and the film suffocates.
To give you an idea of some of the nonsensical ideas in this film, here is one. Aquaman and Mera are able to swim underwater at amazing speeds, breathe almost indefinitely underwater with no problem whatsoever. There is a point in the film in which they have to find a dangerous trench which is out to sea a ways. So do they swim to the trench they way they have been swimming all through the film? Why no, of course. Mera steals a boat. Why? Why couldn’t they have just swam to the trench? They didn’t need the boat. This is the kind of head shaking scene that drives me nuts. Surely, if I can notice this detail, how did they miss it? Stealing the boat leads to a battle scene between our two heroes and more CGI creatures. But they still didn’t need the boat for that since a lot of these battles happen…….UNDER WATER!
The visuals are nice to look at, no doubt, but the story is routine and the acting is passable, at best. The score composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams is standout, however and I found myself listening more to the score than what was happening on screen. As for a good villain, Patrick Wilson as King Orm is decent enough, but he does not have much to do. Most of the time he looks at the camera and calls his half brother, Aquaman, “mongrel” or “half-breed” and it all gets old pretty fast. They have even thrown in the villain, Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and it did not do much to enhance this film. There is not one standout performance in this entire film. Momoa does what he can, but the story and script are so trite that I really was not surprised by a huge reveal about three quarters of the way into the film.
I realize I will be in the minority in my negative viewing of this film. I will acknowledge that Aquaman looks good but it is a pat and predictable film that forgets why Marvel films are more appealing. Marvel films are fun, to be sure, but they are also engaging, enthralling, interesting with characters that are fleshed out and developed. They are compelling and fascinating. Sure they are chock full of visuals and production values but they have original villains and the action means something when it happens. The action has consequences. In Aquaman as in most of the DC films, these elements are secondary to the visuals and the film suffers as a result. There might be a good Aquaman film out there to still be made. This is not the one. Maybe the sequel will be a little better.
Aquaman – ** out of 5
Aquaman – Rated PG-13 for violence and language
Aquaman – Run Time 143 minutes. There is a scene, midway through end credits.
Aquaman is now available on DVD, On Demand and subscription services. Check your area for pricing and availability.