Director: James Wan
Screenwriters: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall
Stars: Jason Mamoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman
Ok, so we went out and saw Aquaman! We will be covering this movie in a basic review style. We will try hard to stay away from spoilers and just let you know whether the movie was good or not. If you’re looking for a cinematic breakdown of everything from camera angles, movie score details or Federico Fellini homages, well this ain’t that kind of review.
Mrs. Movie Couple and I, are not trying to impress or dazzle you with our cinema knowledge. What we will do is simply tell you what we liked, what we hated and what we loved! You will also get two distinct takes on the film in one review! Finally we will let you know if it was worth paying a sitter for! Our final ratings system will use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system. 1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money! 3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent! 5-6 Bills equal Wow! Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter! Please take our money again!
We were both excited to see this as the trailers looked great and we have followed Jason Momoa’s Aquaman through the Justice League film and were looking forward to this release. Now I know a lot about Aquaman, From old comics, through the New 52 and DC Rebirth. If any of that rings a bell, then you know from whence I come. We can smell our own. Mrs. Movie Couple, now her knowledge of Arthur Curry begins and ends at the Super Friends cartoon. It can be summed up with the quote “Meanwhile at the Hall Of Justice.” Nevertheless, we both were eager to see this movie.
James Wan has directed a great looking film with plenty of over the top actions pieces. He deserves a lot of credit for making Aquaman come to life. But its not all Sebastian and the gang singing Under The Sea. Let’s get started. You learn early on just who Arthur Curry is and why he is unique to both Surface Dwellers (Us) and Atlanteans. Again trying to stay spoiler free. He is indeed conceived in love and a special child. Although, as in many heroic tropes, he just doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. His origin is handled well and is nearly without tragedy, a surprise in comic book characters unfortunately. Soon he is thrust into the political world of Atlantis. A world he knows very little about, nor does he care to. Alas, fate holds all the cards and he is forced to join the fray as Atlantis is setting its sights on his home, the surface world. A threat he can not ignore.
Before all that, we see him in action! Apparently after the events of Justice League, he has begun to help those less fortunate than himself more often than before. He is seen rescuing a Russian submarine from high tech pirates. It is here that he meets who will become his long time arch enemy. It is a good action sequence with a corny line or two thrown in, but what occurs here is the genesis of the villain Black Manta! If you do not know his origin and what sets him against Aquaman for the rest of his life, you will find it all explained right here and it is handled very well. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II does a great job in the role of Manta! He doesn’t just chew scenery and twirl an evil mustache, his pain is real and his anger can be felt.
Not all of the enemies Aquaman faces can say the same. Patrick Wilson, who we both love in most everything else he does, plays the despicable (I chose that word on purpose) villain Ocean Master, nearly channeling Daffy Duck the entire way. The plot of Ocean Master is typical and poor Patrick doesn’t have much to play with here in my opinion. Again my previous knowledge of Aquaman and Ocean Master may have gotten in the way, but they have had many interactions on the comic page that out shine what we get here, but I nerdly digress. Willem DaFoe is serviceable as wise Atlantean advisor Vulko, but even he seems to be sleepwalking through this one. Nicole Kidman as AquaMom was great in my opinion, but the Mrs. found her to be mailing it in. We both agree that Amber Heard as Mera was the worst. Sorry, if you’re a huge Amber fan, but she was wooden the entire time! Despite Mera being an equal to Aquaman in the comic books and a fierce warrior in her own right, the attempt to get that across on film fails on every level. Heard and Momoa attempt to create a ‘Romancing The Stone’ type back and forth which falls on its face. They just have ZERO chemistry together. Jason Momoa makes a great Aquaman. The Mrs. agrees with me on that, but the guy really is not a great actor either. He is carried by nearly everyone he shares the screen with, thank goodness, but when the caliber of actor he is working with is less than stellar (looking at you Amber) you can painfully notice it. The personality he brings to the part of Aquaman wins you over most of the time and that’s a good thing, because he needs a bit more acting polish. Which he will get. If you’ve followed his career up till now, you can see the improvements, but lets just say The Rock and Jason Statham are not losing sleep over him just yet. The movie looks beautiful! It’s colorful and bright, a change of pace for the DCEU. It looks gorgeous, like a comic book come to life. The underwater scenes and the world of Atlantis are like Wakanda was placed underwater after being crossed with the world of Avatar!
So the final verdict?
Mr. Movie Couple: The movie has great action set pieces and looks amazing! Momoa’s personality goes very far to rising above the sub par acting, but the movie goes on for way too long (much like this review!) it throws in everything from Ocean Master, Black Manta, The Trench, The Lost World, Atlantean history, and nearly anything anyone ever thought was cool about Aquaman (Yes he even rides a seahorse!) But at the same time, it never takes the time to make a real connection between Arthur and Mera, nor even explains why Arthur and Mera’s powers are unique and different from other Atlanteans! Can all Atlanteans lift a submarine? Talk to fish? Can all Atlanteans create weapons out of water? I knew the answer thanks to years of reading comic books, but the Mrs. did not, even after the film was over she couldn’t answer these questions! As a huge comic reader, I liked the film despite these misgivings, but wanted it to be even more! It doesn’t match the success of the Marvel movies, nor does it resonate as well as DCEU’s very own Wonder Woman did.
Mrs. Movie Couple: She hated it. Couldn’t wait for it to end were her exact words. Despite the positives I mentioned, she has had it up to her teeth with comic book brothers (Cousins count she says, while looking straight at Black Panther) fighting over titles, power or love. Yawn! The acting of Kidman and Heard drove her crazy! She would only say the visuals were great and Momoa was OK. She enjoyed the action, but found the romance between Arthur and Mera forced at best and non existent most of the time! Two dead fish were what she actually said. Pun intended. In fact, she never bought AquaMom and Arthur’s dad either. The thought of them was fine, she said, but it never seemed real. It was Meh, bordering on good.
I felt it was money well spent, while she felt the entire evening was a waste of money. So we average it out to the low end of 3-4. 3 Bills it is!
I’m sure this will upset many. The movie is making bank! Which makes me happy as a fan of Aquaman, maybe the acting and chemistry can improve in the inevitable sequel. And a streamlined plot couldn’t hurt as well. Stay for the mid credits scene to see where they are heading in the soon to be produced sequel. Mrs. Movie Couple rolls her eyes at the mention of a sequel. She just told me I’m going to see Aquaman 2 by myself. Sigh.