I happened upon the DVD of Aquaman (2018) at my local library and couldn’t pass it up. The film has gotten rave reviews, and given the DCU‘s relatively poor track record compared to Marvel, I decided they were due for a win.
First of all, I love Jason Momoa as Arthur/Aquaman. Even as a kid, the blond, orange shirted Aquaman of the comic books seemed pretty silly to me, especially when compared to Marvel’s Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, so Momoa’s interpretation of Aquaman is an incredible improvement and a joy to watch. I also loved Temuera Morrison as Arthur’s Dad Tom and Nicole Kidman as his Mom Atlanna. An additional treat was the appearance of Willem Dafoe as Vulko.
All that said, I thought the movie was “okay”. Oh sure, plenty of action, thrills and chills, but it didn’t really stand out. There are already plenty of films about reluctant, exiled kings and their rise to power against evil. Frankly, Marvel’s Black Panther (2018) did it better, although it’s tough to compare the two characters.
Actually, the story line is a rehashed version of Prince Namor’s own quest to regain the throne of Atlantis, which began in 1965’s Tales to Astonish issue 75 comic book complete with the quest for the trident, although Namor undertook his challenge alone and not with his girlfriend.
To be fair, making a film that takes place mainly underwater is a pretty tough task. No, not necessarily the technical aspects of it, but making it seem like the characters aren’t really acting above water and faking being miles under the surface of the Atlantic. And capes? In what reality are capes at all practical underwater? All they’d do was provide drag while swimming.
I haven’t mentioned Amber Heard as Mera, and I thought her performance was neither really good nor really bad. However, I spent a lot of time watching the movie and wondering if her actual hair were dyed such a brilliant red or if it were just a wig. Really, it was that distracting.
Oh, one thing that really annoyed me was the handling of Black Manta played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. First of all, his character and his Dad were murderous pirates, so there was no moral high ground for them to claim. On top of that, when Arthur callously refused to rescue Manta’s Dad during the pirates’ botched hijacking, Manta vows righteous vengeance, as if killing off a good portion of a Russian sub’s crew were somehow virtuous.
The other part was how Manta’s role as super villain was pretty much copied and pasted into the movie. Really, the film would have been just fine without Manta’s appearance. It added absolutely nothing to the story.
Bottom line as I said above, “Aquaman” was an okay film and not a bad way to kill a couple of hours. It just wasn’t anything special.