Picture this – a night plagued by torrential rainfall. There’s a house placed right at the edge of a cliff, almost on top of those rocks that unfortunate ships crash into. The wind’s blowing hard and there’s a man trying his best to close an unwilling window. We get no ominous soundtrack blaring doom, just the continuous pitter-patter of rain accompanied by the occasional thunder and lightning. Out of nowhere, the score changes to an emotional piece as the man notices a washed-up lady down by the water. Now, I don’t know if I’m painting a vivid enough picture but I immediately pick out a big flaw with this one tiny sequence – there isn’t enough time for the audience to settle down and get into the mood of the scene. There has to be some sort of flow and continuity – at least show his prior efforts of securing down the other aspects of his house. But no – torrential rain, window not closing and a shipwrecked lady – that’s all we get.
What is it about these DCEU movies that make the director and screenwriter forget the basics of film-making? Action sequence after action sequence has multiple slow-motion money shots. It’s overdone so much that the word “epic” stops to mean anything. And what do they have against subtlety? A dying father’s last words to his son are “You need to live so you can kill that son of a bitch!”
To be fair, James Wan has tried his level best to deliver an Aquaman movie that won’t be ridiculed as badly as the previous flicks in this franchise. You do get what you expect – an underwater world you can immerse yourself into completely without wondering “How and why do clouds exist underwater?” The CGI world of Atlantis might be too much sensory overload, but you can get behind it all. Mostly.
The storyline needs no introduction. Ever seen a comic book movie where the downtrodden hero goes on a character-building adventure and is aided by his competent female love-interest in order to prove himself worthy of being some important chap with a fancy title? You know what to expect. Jason Momoa manages to carry this thing just by being himself. He doesn’t reinvent the wheel as there’s nothing in this movie that suggests that there was even an attempt to rise above the rest. The supporting cast is nothing exceptional – except for Nicole Kidman, who plays the fish-out-of-the-water troupe to perfection with the limited screen-time she gets. Don’t care about Patrick, Dolph, Willem and the rest. Their wigs are too distracting.
So why should you see it? To be honest, there is a lot to love here. If you can turn off your logical centre and are hungry for combat sequences that go on and on, you’re in luck. They’ve created an entire world full of believable elements – one that you want to go back to. Aquaman is a solid entertainer, and I’d argue that it needed to be longer in order to solidify itself as an epic. Unfortunately, poor editing, bland dialogue and uninspiring characters rob it of having any chance. Its a step in the right direction. Just don’t do it again.