by Alan Yudman
I’m always apprehensive when I sit down to watch a movie in the DC cinematic universe. They have been wildly inconsistent, tilting toward bad for the most part. Really, the best in the series was WONDER WOMAN. So, the mixed reviews for AQUAMAN activated that early warning system in my brain. Maybe it was those reduced expectations that enhanced my enjoyment, but I like AQUAMAN.
Sure there are some difficulties here. Origin stories by their nature go deep in the weeds (or sea weeds in this case). Sometimes it’s a little too much information. Viewers want to watch the hero be heroic, not learn about the political history of Atlantis. I get why, but there’s got to be a better way to serve that information. Maybe hand out viewer guides ahead of time, or suggest reading material to peruse before you walk into the theater.
I also had a Transformers-style problem with some of the climactic action sequences. They were hard to follow and not least because they took place in an unfamiliar environment— under water. Viewers need less frenetic action and more meaningful set pieces. Give us stuff that services the story not the endless list of computer technicians and software engineers that are listed in the credits.
But those were my only problems with the movie. I thought Jason Momoa was fantastic. He brings the right amount of badassery and balances it out with humor. I believe he is Aquaman. The other surprise was Amber Heard. She and Momoa had great chemistry. They played well off each other. They were in rhythm and I believed their relationship was real.
Other than the fighting scenes near the end, the underwater world created by director Ruben Fleischer and his team was spectacular and beautiful. The choice of Patrick Wilson as the big villain was odd, but he’s such a good actor it worked. It was great to see the Black Manta character show up and be portrayed with such clear motivation. Revenge is always a winner.
Overall I had fun with AQUAMAN. It didn’t drown in outsized expectations or in themes that were too dark (that note is once again for you Zach Snyder). It was what you want from a superhero movie and I look forward to seeing a more streamlined version next time.