Simple Review: Splash Ahh-AHHHH
The ocean is a terrifying place where everything swims faster than you and most can eat you in one gulp. If only there was a protector watching us as we frolic in the deep blue sea, but not in a weird stalker way. Well, we are in luck as this week Aquaman dog paddles his way into the local cinema to give us the underwater hero we didn’t know we needed or wanted. Unlike the Marvel cinematic universe, the DC universe keeps throwing movies against the wall hoping something will stick, which is the same technique James Wan uses in his superhero movie directorial debut. So, does Aquaman triumphantly leap from the water amazing us with his aquatic skills, or does he end up sleeping with the fishes? Put on your skimpiest bathing suit, lather on that sunscreen and meet me at the sandy beaches of this review, but don’t let little Alex Kintner out of your sight!
This may be the most difficult review I have ever done as I am not sure if Aquaman is a truly bad movie or the best superhero movie spoof of all time! You may be saying, ” But Movie Psycho, I have seen reviews that say this is a fun, exciting movie, what gives?” I hate to be the bearer of bad news but those people lied to you, and at Christmas time as well! Don’t worry, Santa has a lump of coal for those scoundrels. Aquaman is like getting a beautifully wrapped package for whatever holiday you celebrate ( is that PC enough for you?) only to open it and find some used gym socks. I suppose I will give you a brief plot synopsis of this movie in case you have never heard of good ole Aquaman. It seems Arthur Curry is supposed to be king of Wakan-opps I mean Asgar-oops I mean Atlantis as his mermom was the Queen before she was banished. Arthur swims around and goes on weird adventures to become more than a king, he becomes a hero. At least I think that is the plot, as Director James Wan and some “Writers” ( I use that word very loosely) jam about 5 movies into 2 1/2 hours of runtime. Before we scale this fish story, let’s go over some of the positives, yes there are some, that the film offers.
There are really only a few positives from Aquaman, and one of them keeps this film from being absolute trash. I will say I like Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Much like Justice League, Jason brings a sense of much-needed fun to the role, admittedly it is a big, goofy meathead kind of fun, but enjoyable none the less. He towers over his costars and is very believable as a badass, one that you wouldn’t want to laugh at as he sports his green and orange super suit. I can’t say his acting is great, but it fits the role well. Patrick Wilson, as bad guy King Orm, is acting his fish tail off in this movie. Unfortunately, it feels like it is wasted, but he does go for broke. As for the rest of the cast, well, we will deal with them later.
The best moments in Aquaman and the ones that make it worth staying awake through are the underwater moments. These are the times the filmmakers let this movie go insane and throw every piece of eye candy at you. There are merpeople riding giant seahorses, great white sharks and all kinds of underwater contraptions. The colors are beautiful and the detail of these undersea kingdoms is amazing. Wan keeps the action kinetic and moves the camera all over each battle, capitalizing on the splendor of the underwater environment. Some of the shots are incredible and I especially liked the way he films the attack of the weird crab monsters on our heroes in a boat. You may have seen a shot in the trailer, as Aquaman and Mera dive off the boat chased by these monsters, it is straight out of a nightmare and gorgeous to behold on the big screen. It is when the film lets loose and goes over the top that it is at its most fun and I wish they would have stayed in that underwater world.
Now it is time to cast our net on the negatives of Aquaman, and believe me this is going to be a large haul! The cast, outside of the two mentioned earlier, is either terrible or criminally wasted. Amber Heard, as Mera, is so bland that vanilla ice cream is suing her for copyright infringement. She has zero chemistry with Jason Momoa, zero emotion on her face and the acting range of a nerf gun. In case you did not get the picture, she is awful in this movie. The one that hurt the most was Willem Dafoe as Vulko, young Arthurs merteacher. Willem Dafoe has played so many crazy and oddball characters that seeing him as a fish-man should have been more over the top fun, instead, much like Nicole Kidman does in this movie, he stands around looking shocked that he is in this incoherent mess. What a waste!
As I mentioned earlier, this movie tries to do so much in its runtime that, while I admire the craziness, it is impossible to follow. It felt like the filmmakers were abusing me with all the plots. You want an origin story? BAM how do you like that? What’s that? You like horror movies? BOOM Ohhhh you like Thor’s epic space opera? BLAM You thought Black Panther had some royal blood on royal blood fights, take this!! You want more? We will give you some Lord of the Rings world building and you will like it or else! There is a plot about the main bad guy trying to unite the undersea kingdoms against us crappy land dwellers, that could have been interesting but instead, it makes little sense and I didn’t know enough about these kingdoms to care what they did one-way or the other. My favorite awful turn the movie takes is when it sends Aquaman and Mera on an Indiana Jones-type adventure in the desert. Yes, the filmmakers decided to send the King of Atlantis to the desert for some pointless reason with the most boring women on the planet. BRILLIANT!!!
There is a character that is digitally de-aged at the beginning of the movie and it is so bad it looks like Gumby was cast in one of the roles. Why can they not just hire a younger actor that kind of looks like the older actor? I have a brain I can figure it out. There is a magic shirt, and if you spot it I have a crisp one dollar bill for you as a reward. There are underwater stormtroopers that are just as bad at shooting as their Star Wars counterpoints. Black Manta is just silly, although his costume is pretty cool, and I understood why he wanted to kill Aquaman, and sort of side with him on that front. And why do underwater people that swim super-duper fast need underwater ships to get around in? I need to stop going down this rabbit hole again, but did I mention Amber Heard is an awful actress?
We have reached the blessed shoreline on this review and we can lay on the sand thankful we survived our trip to the depths of the sea with Aquaman. I want to recommend this one just for the underwater craziness, but the rest of the movie is so bad I couldn’t sleep knowing I told you to see this in the theaters. I respect the attempt they made to make this world epic, but it is just so bad that it fails under the weight of the attempt. Perhaps one day I can watch this like I do Flash Gordon and enjoy the campiness, but it is not this day ( as the wise man said)! Until then I will stay out of the water like on the Fourth of July at Amity Island.
I hope you enjoyed my rambling insanity and if you did please like, follow and share with your friends across the globe!!
As always, thanks for your time.
The Movie Psycho