Collin's been a movie critic since 2009. In real life he works in marketing and is also a novelist ("Good Riddance" published in Oct 2015).
Aquaman may be one of the lamest superheroes ever—there’s a page on Ranker titled, “52 Aquaman Jokes, Because He Sucks”—but don’t tell that to the folks over at the DC Films. They’ve gone ahead and given the guy his own movie (following appearances in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and last year’s Justice League). And if there’s anyone who can give Fish Boy some legitimacy, it’s Jason Momoa.
The former Game of Thrones actor definitely throws his all into the role, and though the resulting movie may never be as memorable as anything in the Marvel Universe (or even as worthwhile as DC’s own excellent 2017 Wonder Woman), it’ll still give superhero flick fans plenty to cheer about… in the same way that a lot of people also like Michael Bay’s five Transformers films. Aquaman is a full-frontal, all-out assault on your eyes and ears that is stuffed with so many ridiculous set pieces that you may wonder if it’s absurdly over-the-top on purpose. And, heck—let’s just give ‘em the benefit of the doubt and assume (and hope) that it is.
Working from a cheeseball script by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall, director James Wan throws everything but the kitchen sink into the lengthy (143-minute) epic, which joins the ranks of many superhero movies in being far more convoluted than necessary. The fact that the story requires an hour of set-up and later concludes with a thirty-minute undersea battle so big and loud that it makes The Two Towers look like a polite skirmish should give you at least a rough idea of what we’re dealing with.
The movie begins with Aquaman’s origin story—Atlantean Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) washes up at a Maine lighthouse and falls in love with the (human) lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison). They have a son, Arthur, who grows up to become Aquaman, but our hero prefers to spend his days on land hanging with the locals in his fishing village.
Under the sea, Arthur’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) is ruling as king and is attempting to unite the seven undersea kingdoms to attack the land-dwellers… in retaliation for our polluting the oceans. Orm’s betrothed Mera (Amber Heard) isn’t on board, though, and goes rogue, attempting to get Arthur/Aquaman to come home and assume his position as rightful king. Reluctant at first, Aquaman eventually agrees, and the fight for Atlantis is on.
If one villain is good, two must be better, so we’re also introduced to Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen), a human who blames Aquaman for his father’s death—never mind the fact that it came as Manta and pops were attempting to hijack an innocent Russian submarine.
So, yes, there’s a lot going on, and credit goes to Wan for certainly making the most of all of it. The visual effects are through-the-roof, but so is the cheesiness of lines like, “I came to save my home and the people that I love.” Aquaman may be a big-bang-boom flick that gives you your money’s worth in the spectacle department, but if you think it will be remembered in the same stratosphere as The Dark Knight or The Avengers, or even as a half-way intelligent comic book flick, you're all wet.