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Aquaman (Spoilers)

Mediocre, 6/10 sort of movie. Disappointing. Not surprising given the director was behind the Saw franchise, but there's not much depth here. Typical kings and knights type of story, but underwater. A bratty antagonist that wants to be king because he hates his brother or whatever.

Jason Momoa is not a bad actor, but I don't think he's a particularly good one either. He basically has two facial expressions; a sort of ass-kicker one and an over-the-top smiley one. There are a few scenes where Heard attempts to give some emotional weight to what is happening, an form a connection between Mera an Arthur but Momoa can't match it, he doesn't have it in him.

Black Manta is the best part of this movie. Unfortunately he's not in it all that much. The actor, who I haven't seen in anything before, made you feel the character despite knowing his hardships are of his own doing. I think he'll make a good adversary in future films, if there are any, and one that you might be rooting for (to some degree).

Lastly, the movie is a good 30 minutes too long, if not more. Like I said, if you have seen any epic fantasy of the swords and dragons variety, then you've seen this movie. They could have skipped the many scenes where they try to impress us with how big of a world Atlantis is, etc.


  • spidspid Posts: 203
    edited December 2018
    The movie is good but not great. I find it interesting that Black Panther and Aquaman have the same basic plots, royal outsider comes in and challenges for the crown. There are some scenes that could have been cut especially the scenes with Mera and Aquaman alone. I think they were only in to justify the kiss at the end which was dumb scene.

    On the positive side where Asgard always felt smaller than it does in the comic Aquaman succeeds in making Atlantis feel just as big if not bigger.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 332
    edited December 2018
    Unfortunately, I found this dopey in the extreme. Other than the blizzards of very up-to-date (I suppose) CGI that are constantly bombarding the screen, this script feels very much like one of those old "comic book movies" that were common place before the first X-Men film, before Marvel started making quality, memorable superhero flicks & before Nolan got his hands on Batman. The kinds of bad superhero movies that the phrase "comic book movies" used to mean (the first 2 Superman movies and the first Batman film being notable exceptions). When the mindset was that superhero movies were just for kids.

    I am guessing that anyone who loved the Brendan Fraser Mummy movies will enjoy this on some level. Like that film (which I know has its many many fans) I found it to be an extremely derivative third-tier amusement park ride. Like that film, the characterization doesn't matter very much here at all, only the action. (Things explode frequently.)

    Aquaman isn't really a character in the traditional sense. His mood and motivation don't change organically following whatever his character has just experienced but change based on whatever mood the director wants to shift things into. James Wan often wants to change the mood into light and "fun" after something serious, no matter how unlikely or incongruous it is.

    The most egregious example of this is a scene where Aquaman's just barely escaped being killed and failed to defeat Orm (who he knows plans on attacking land-dwellers who he is presumably sort of concerned about since his father is on land and his father just barely survived a tsumani attack) and he literally lies back like he hasn't gotten a care in the world and asks Mera, "What now?" like they were on a picnic. I know there are plenty of people who can think "Who cares, it's fun", but I wanted something more.

    The film is at its worst, IMO, when it has Aquaman and Mera "falling in love". Some of the attempts at humor here are eye-rollingly cheesy. It reminded me of the painfully contrived banter between Fraser and Weisz in the Mummy, but here it feels unintentionally camp. While the Mummy clearly was not interested in being anything other than a goofy live action cartoon, Aquaman wants us to simultaneously take what's at stake (the fate of Atlantis and land dwellers) very seriously and everything else not seriously at all. An example: the filmmakers throw in several reminders of how much land dwellers have polluted the oceans, but it's very unclear if the Atlanteans are particularly bothered by any of the pollution or dumping. Orm brings it up as a talking point of why Atlanteans should attack us but that's about it. They seem to find it more of a trivial annoyance really. (Thereby making it much easier for the lazy writers to have Atlanteans pledge allegiance to Aquaman by the end.)

    The film also fails to do anything interesting with the idea of a society of underwater dwellers that's existed for centuries. Granted, this is faithful to the comic (I liked seeing the giant "seahorses" and shark "horses"), and Atlanteans started out on land, but very little thought seems to have gone into "world building" here. Anyone hoping for even some minor re-imaginings with such an interesting concept, will be disappointed. Atlantean society, despite having existed for centuries under the sea, appears to function in much the same way it did before it sunk. Atlanteans - from what I could make out - are still housed in structures that sort of resemble "buildings" which is odd because the purpose of a shelter is to protect the dweller from the elements. If you live under the ocean, what would be the purpose of a home with walls? If it's to protect from predators, then the Atlanteans seem to have resolved that as well wince sharks all seem to have been tamed by them. If it's to separate your home from your neighbors wouldn't homes more likely be spread out over the sea floor? It's an interesting idea to wonder what a society might look like if it did not have to worry about shelter (and presumably food and water), but there's nothing particularly unusual here, only the usual tribes and monster folk who live elsewhere like in LOTR or any other fantasy story.

    There is also the fact that Atlanteans speak - and amazingly - read English. (We only discover that they read English just so they can deliver a very lame joke about Pinocchio.) I don't see why they couldn't have had Aquaman have been taught Atlantean by his mother and Volko. Or explain that Atlanteans have been monitoring land-dwellers and speak many languages like the Amazons did in Wonder Woman. This may not seem like a big deal but that kind of effort would help distinguish this live action fare from a DC animated cartoon, which is really what this is (although I'd say the cartoons are better written.) For instance, the film at least acknowledges that Atlanteans are somehow speaking underwater by quickly noting that yes, Atlanteans are different and can speak underwater. They didn't have to address that, but they did.

    To be fair, if I had found any of what was going on particularly interesting (I think the action sequences were okay but nothing special) I probably wouldn't have been noticing these problems and been more forgiving of these kinds of things.

    I was hoping for something more thoughtful that allowed me to emotionally invest in the characters as opposed to just riding the ride.

  • mphilmphil Posts: 448
    @Vertighost I have been thinking about your review for a few days now. I find the comparison to The Mummy intriguing. I'm having trouble reconciling my thoughts on it, though. It may be because I like The Mummy and I don't like Aquaman all that much. But I like calling it a roller coaster, that is apt.

    It may be because I liked all of the characters in The Mummy and didn't really care for any in Aquaman all that much. Part of it was that The Mummy used comedy quite effectively, imo. For example, you are introduced to the Beni character early, and every time he's on screen you know he's going to do something cowardly. It's helps to bring down the level of the scene. In the roller coaster analogy, it's the smooth parts before a big fall.

    I don't think Aquaman really had any of that. The comedy it had was too self-aware. Any comedy was muffled by the fact that the characters had to remain cool. The Mummy didn't really try to make Brendan Fraser be cool. It was fine that he was a bit of a goof ball with a heart of gold (sort of a Han Solo character in fact).

    I don't know, still thinking about the analogy.
  • @Mphil, even though I really disliked The Mummy (mostly because I hate action movies where supernatural beings are defeated in non-supernatural ways especially guns or fists), I think you put your finger on one of the big differences between the 2 films: Fraser isn't supposed to be taken seriously at all, like Aquaman is. Fraser isn't really "cool". I was also most reminded of the Mummy during the middle third of the film with the "banter" between Aquaman and Mera and their "falling in love" arc. In both instances I found the relationships extremely predictable, contrived and cliched: They argue, she gets flustered, adventure ensues, share a moment, repeat, etc.

    I think I would've forgiven all of that had I laughed or even smiled. I think both films will be fun films to watch as long as the comedy bits work. I can excuse all of the contrivances if I was laughing. I've certainly seen my share of dumb films I've enjoyed simply because I had a smile throughout. My expectations also altered things a lot. I was hoping for something less cliched in terms of character, relationships and world building.

  • batlawbatlaw Posts: 879
    Finally got to see it last night. Me and the family enjoyed it just fine. I was overall pleasantly surprised. There were only a couple moments of stand out cheese and preaching. The stunts and effects were excellent. Performances were fine or at least adequate at worst. Story was unoriginal and predictable (of course) but fine. Costumes were excellent and impressive. I expected a bit more comedy and there could’ve/should’ve been?
    As a spectacle film and on a basic level it was well rounded, consistent and competent. They could’ve tried harder or delved deeper but they wisely chose to keep it simple. We’ve seen what they do when they try to get too “smart” or “intense” and how it’s worked for them. I’d rank this second behind WW as dceu’s best movie.
  • MihawkMihawk Posts: 432
    Finally got around to seeing it and I thought it was like a 7/10 movie. It thought the first half was kinda slow, but I really enjoyed the last half of the movie.

    A lot of the lines were a little to cheesy at times.

    But my biggest issue with the movie was Black Manta, he just didn't need to be in this movie at all except for maybe as a stinger at the end. I thought his entire story arc was pretty generic and lame, I don't know if it was the Actor or the lines he was given? But I thought the performance was pretty awful. And how he somehow retrofitted the Armor and Weapons that Orm gave him into a Mantis suit in like a day was ridiculous.

    He was just to secondary of a character in this movie, probably Aquaman's most recognizable Villain and he's second note in this movie. Now I thought the fight was fine but everything else about Manta was disappointing.

    If it wasn't for that I would rank this movie higher.
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