Film Review: Aquaman

FilmReviewAquaman

Saw this in the cinema and… daaaaamn.

This and Wonder Woman restored some faith for me in the DC movie-verse. Aquaman is action-packed, full of beautiful CGI, breathtaking scenes, mindblowing music, and a cheesy plot. Worth watching in the cinema.

Contains spoilers, duh.

Arthur Curry, AKA Aquaman, is a vigilante who can communicate with sea creatures and have amazing strength and prowess under water. When a war brews in the underwater world, Mera, an Atlantean, seeks his help to usurp his own brother to the throne and prevent the war.

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Cue plentiful political betrayals, backstabbings, civil conflict, and a reluctant hero in the form of Khal Drogo Aquaman. Because he’s the hero, we ended up rooting for him, but in a way his ascension to the throne of Atlanta isn’t unlike how Killmonger rose to the throne in Wakanda, an outsider with a valid claim and no support from the natives whatsoever. But because Killmonger is the antagonist, he dies. Because Aquaman is the hero, he succeeds. I’ll give kudos to Aquaman’s character in both acknowledging the people of Atlanta won’t accept him as ruler (but the way to amend that is to get this legendary trident to force people to acknowledge his worthiness) and he isn’t anywhere near qualified to rule an underwater kingdom, being from the world above.

But lampshading it doesn’t remove the sin. Ding.

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The Eye Candy

The film is full of eye candy. The scene where Mira takes Aquaman into Atlanta and the scene pulls back to reveal this huge-ass underwater empire, with the orchestra blaring away in the background, is breathtaking. It’s CGI’d to hell and back, but my god it gave me goosebumps. So much detail. So beautiful. Goddammit the composer is a genius.

The flashback of Atlanta in all its former glory, the beautiful cityscape. The kaleidoscope that was the underwater chase scene. The dazzling battles with soldiers riding on sea animals.

And then there are Aquaman’s abs and Mira’s boobs. I mean, it’s endless eye candy.

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Because a lot of the scenes take place underwater, the characters end up doing a lot of swimming, arms waving, legs kicking as they move from room to room, and the motion all appears very natural and not at all distracting.

The Characters

Ah, Willem Dafoe. The sharp-eyed wise man. Feels like he always ends up playing those sorts of characters. I was honestly expecting him to die as the teacher who sacrifices himself for the greater good to motivate the protagonist. That, or Atlanta being miraculously alive and then dying to be the motivator instead. Disappointingly, neither happens.

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Aquaman has no tragic motivational twist. He just wins, wins, and wins. That aspect made it a disappointment. This character wins everything without losing anything.

I like how Orm, Aquaman’s half-brother, never actually seeks Aquaman’s death despite the animosity. It does make him stand out (just a little) from the stereotypical antagonist.

And Mira, although definitely gorgeous and has plenty of eye candy scenes, is a character that is self-motivated and contributes to the action rather than remains a damsel-in-distress. She actively seeks out Aquaman for his help. She busts his ass out of Atlanta when Orm is about to kill him in combat.  Yes, my inner feminist likes this film muchly.

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Black Manta seems like excess baggage, though. He was a bit like a fly that keeps flying into your ears when you’re trying to watch a film. Aquaman is learning his underwater powers and seeking the throne. There’s a major showdown between the surface and the underwater folks. A war is breaking out.

(Sorry, let Black Manta just throw in some gamma rays or something and scream about how bitter he is that his murdering pirate father got exactly what he deserved, pause this war for a second.)

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The Plot

Well, there weren’t actually any twists. This film has a tendency to explode whenever there is a slow or meaningful scene just to propel the story onwards. Characters having a heart-to-heart? Explosion. A moment of success when they are getting a breath of well-deserved air? Boom, boom, boom. It’s become almost expected and worn-out. I expected there to be another explosion when Mira and Aquaman kissed. Because that’s the kind of interruptions the film has built me up for.

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There was too much mention of Atlanta, Aquaman’s mother, for her not to be alive. I was expecting her to pop up at every critical moment — and she does, eventually.

The plot was cheesy and predictable from start to finish. Arthur is the chosen one to stop the war. His brother is the corrupt one who will be brought to his knees. His vice, his mother being dead, will be addressed and solved. He searches for the mystical trident that nobody has been able to find, but he could, because he’s Special. He then wins wars with it and becomes king. His trusty sidekick is loyal and beautiful and they fall in love and live happily ever after.

I mean, the only satisfaction I got, plot-wise, was how Aquaman’s parents finally united after all these years. That reunion brought a tear to my eyes.

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Verdict: would watch it in the cinema again. 5 stars.

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