AQUAMAN – So Cheesy I Left the Cinema Lactose Intolerant

I am finally back in full swing after taking two and a bit weeks off from movie reviewing. Refreshed and dazed and ready for another, our 13th year, of film reviewing. Originally my review was coming out for AQUAMAN before Christmas, I saved it a spot in my Top 20 and managed an invite, and encounter, with the man-god, Momoa, in person at the premiere.

But sadly the movie could not make the Top 20 and for a brief moment there I didn’t even want to review it. Besides some epic, and I mean truly epic, visuals AQUAMAN is atrocious. I was on the detest-it-train before half way through. I am still in a state of bewilderment it is getting so much love. Not too much bewilderment. JUST LOOK AT HIM!!! Kids will love this movie claiming it as “the best movie ever” and mums will volunteer to take their kids to see it over and over and over again.

AQUAMAN is out now, runs for a painful 143mins and is rated M.

Aquaman Jason Mamoa image
Jason Mamoa

BY JASON KING

AQUAMAN SYNOPSIS:

Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people – and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Arthur Curry/ Aquaman, Orm’s half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.

Aquaman Patrick Wilson image
Patrick Wilson

SUCCESSFUL DOESN’T NECESSARILY MEAN GOOD:

AQUAMAN is currently the most successful DC movie since The Dark Knight Trilogy. It has crossed gross earnings of $960MIL which is just awe inspiring. But why oh why?! It is beautiful visually bombastic rubbish with a script worse than ROBIN HOOD. I will give it the unique angle of offering something new with an underwater environment and there are no better CGI visuals for 2018, it looks out of this world and that differing universe will hold mass appeal.

Then there is the Momoa factor, everyone adores him. He has the body of a god, has GoT cred and his epic hotness in BAYWATCH still makes me hot and bothered. In person he is like a giant child in mangod body so kids will flock to him. He has the whole package but I can’t imagine him doing any Oscar performing roles.

Aquaman Jason Momoa and Amber Heard image
Jason Momoa and Amber Heard

VISUALLY STUNNING BUT INCOHERENTLY JUVENILE:

The script for AQUAMAN will appeal to children, it drops to that juvenile level of bad cartoons that are on early mornings. It lacked the ability to mix adult and childhood humour. If it was released in the 80s or the 90s it would have been the film of the year, a technical achievement that would have been appealing to the minds of the day. But for some of us (at least) we have grown intelligently over the years and want more out of a film than a hot guy, a hot girl and some cool underwater scenes. Think 80s Ninja Turtles dialogue and you’re on the money.

And seriously, where is the intelligence and depth to the characters? Nothing remotely intelligent about the movie besides a big nod to climate change and cleaning up the oceans. Again I reiterate the special effects are mind blowing but besides that it is paint-by-numbers as far as superhero movies go. On the heels of a wonderful (pun intended) WONDER WOMAN to a less than stellar JUSTICE LEAGUE there was an opportunity to make something great here but it was drowned in the making with a throwaway script. The DCU needs to make something as good (more than financially) than it’s current Maccas fastfood approach to movies, make something great, make something that in 20yrs time people will still be watching it regularly, JUST LIKE THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY!! Jesus Christ – offer Christopher Nolan a billion bucks to make the next JUSTICE LEAGUE movie and the world will bow.

And while the CGI is mostly insanely awesome there are some uses of it that are embarrassingly poor and should have been cut. Young Temuera Morrison is all I need to say – just dreadful.

Aquaman Shark Warriors image
Shark Warriors

LUCKY FOR EVERYONE MOMOA HAS THE BODY OF A GOD:

As the heading states, Momoa is great as a kid in a mangod’s body, he was awesome in GoT, he hardly spoke, and he brings a new generation Arnold Schwarzenegger style to the screen but complex dialogue is not his thing. He is all about the throw away line, big muscles and fighting. His back-and-forth quips with Amber Heard are cringeworthy. They just both couldn’t pull it off, that chemistry/ love/ hate beginning to a relationship. Think Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, up there as possibly the best chemistry in an action/ quest movie. Momoa/ Heard are on the opposite side of the scale.

BUT – Momoa is always likable and you will always side with him, when he says those stupid lines that make your eyes roll, you just acknowledge it’s Momoa and it’s a little easier to swallow. And of course that body – jeeeeeezus effing christ – it is just out of this world hahaha.

Amber Heard is passable as Ariel, I mean, Mera. She is the spitting image and she looks amazing, a great piece of casting. James Wan’s go-to guy Patrick Wilson was a great bad guy but overall generic and I am impressed that Willem Dafoe, or the Hollywood embodiment of Benjamin Button, has de-aged even more.

Nicole Kidman had always wanted to be in a Superhero movie and jumped at the chance to play Atlanna, I thought she did really well except when in the major green screen scenes. I imagine most of her roles haven’t had too many green screens. And finally the Dolph – stoked to have him back in movies, he was so bad in the 80s and 90s and seems to be a much more intriguing actor now he is a bit older.

Aquaman image
Aquaman

IN CONCLUSION:

AQUAMAN might be a box office success that will guarantee a sequel but so was VENOM. They were both grossly disappointing and poorly made hero movies. In a world of superhero movies they need to look like a renaissance painting with a screenplay that rivals THE GODFATHER. Relying solely on a hot mangod and some epic CGI makes a quick buck but leaves a quickly faded-from-memory paint by numbers piece of trash. But hey, if you love it and have seen it multiple times, I am stoked for you – this is just my opinion afterall. I just think less of you hahaha.

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.