Review: Aquaman

Written by tha - bang from the blog blah blah blah on 19 Dec 2018
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Zack Snyder, who is either loved/loathed by DC Fans based on how they see his films, cast Jason Momoa against the grain of what Aquaman is in the comics.

Momoa is not a blonde, clean shaven type that fits the archetype of regal.

He showed us in Joss Whedon's Josstice League ... oops, I mean Justice League, that he has charisma and a helluva lot of testosterone but the question has always been: can he carry a movie by himself?

Well, let's dig in to find out...

Aquaman is directed by James Wan (The Conjuring, Saw) and he gives the film great visual flare, both in the epic battles, costumes and animal creations.

There's a clear sense that Wan is creating a movie that is a call-back to the classic action adventure movies in the vein of Jason and the Argonauts, Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The high adventure is seen in the plot of reviving a magical artefact that sets our hero and lovely sidekick in an adventure where they encounter incredible magical, mythical and humanoid creatures.

But it's Momoa, and to some extent his partnership with Amber Heard, who plays Mera, the lady with water kinesis, that are the heart of the movie.

Momoa is able to carry the movie, doing his best with the one-liners (most don't lend well). The ladies will love all the shirtless scenes (and there are plenty).

Then there's Momoa playing to his strength of gruffy, beer chunking,alpha male.

The movie could have just been a straight shoot 'em up, which it is (mostly but not all of it), but it's in the Aquaman antagonist and the arc where you see there was potential for it to be elevated to something more. 

Yahya Abdul-Matteen (from The Getdown) is given a great backstory for Black Manta, one of Aquaman's Arch nemeses. The entire movie has a subplot in building Black Manta into who he is in the comics.

Then there's King Orm aka Ocean Master, played very well by Patrick Wilson, who ironically looks and sounds like the classic Aquaman in the comics: blonde, regal and Shakespearian in mannerism. He, like Manta, has a solid motivation for them being opposed to Momoa's Arthur Curry.

Pity, it feels like DCEU after BvS and MoS, keeping things at a very surface level when it comes to plot themes.

The film does not dig deeper into the father-son arc that is set up in Manta / Aquaman and even the Orm sub theme. It does not dig deeper into the eco-terrorism and preservation theme from Orm's motivation.

It glosses over the fact that our version of Aquaman has native Hawaiian and Samoan roots but frames him more as a land looper than an Atlantan.

It's like framing Killmonger as an American and not as an African-American in his battle with his African cousin Tachalla - it loses some nuance and layers of meaning... but I guess Warner Brothers just wanted a straight popcorn blockbuster and Wan delivered.

Although, in their defence, they do give Arthur Curry a definite arc, which works - it just takes a bit too long to get going 'cause there's a lot of world building and setting up of characters that takes place.

Although Aquaman is a cool epic adventure with monsters, magic and corny lines, it had potential to say some great things around representation and environment but played it safe on that.

It does deliver a fully realised arc for Arthur Curry and sets up a sequel but the movie probably won't stay with you past the screening.

What it felt like: Raiders of the Lost Ark meets How to Train Your Dragon 2 meets Thor Ragnarok - if it took the destruction of the world seriously but underwater.

*Junk **Ja nee *** E ya zama ****almost perfect *****Instant Classic

Actors in this post: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard


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