It is difficult to review a superhero film, because the scale is different. How am I going to talk about a comic book movie and put it in the same scale as your typical Oscar-bait tear-jerker? Which is something film critics should stop doing, by the way. But at least I can say this: even the worst Marvel film is better than the best DC one.
Not that Aquaman is terrible, let me be clear. In fact, it’s up there with Wonder Woman in the Top 1 of DC movies, all the others being on the top bottom. Aquaman is not as bad as one would have expected (because it’s about a dude who talks underwater), even though it still has some over-the-top cringey moments.
I’m not even going to explain the plot, because it jumped from Aquaman’s childhood to his adult, hunky version, assuming we have seen the explanation from Justice League -I have seen Justice League, and still could not understand what had happened, how Arthur had become Aquaman, how on Earth had he first met Willem Dafoe’s character, but anyway…
This film would have bombed spectacularly, hadn’t it had a main star with the charm and charisma of Jason Momoa, who effectively carries the movie on his shoulders with his wit and his god-like figure. Without him, we wouldn’t even be talking about Aquaman. He is the one who makes it special, he is the one who gives life to the character and breathes in the bits of the film that are worth watching.
But as much as Momoa has charisma to spare, the script and the, I don’t know, everything, results in all the other actors being underused. Patrick Wilson, a man I have followed and admired for over a decade and a half now, and who has a wide range of acting (just watch Insidious AND Hard Candy AND The Phantom of the Opera AND any clip of him performing on Broadway), is here forced to portray a laughable character who is reduced to a caricature of a person. Director James Wan brought the best of him in The Conjuring and the Insidious movies, but here, he is wasted.
And Nicole Kidman, one of the best actresses we have, plays a thankless role, with an overly CGI’d action sequence at the beginning that looks like something out of a video game, and is then forced to act like she has chemistry with Temuera Morrison, and we are meant to believe throughout the whole movie that they love each other so much that it holds the story together. Nope, they deserved better. And Dafoe just walks around like he doesn’t know where he is. I prefer his turn as Green Goblin in the Spiderman movies from my childhood, and I’m looking forward to seeing him display his true talent in At Eternity’s Gate.
So let’s be thankful the movie had Jason Momoa in it, and that at least he had material to work with and do this movie some justice.
At least they didn’t have that silly conversation bubble thing from Justice League.
PS. I forgot to mention that the “villain”, Black Manta, was very underwhelming. I felt zero sense of threat from him. I even forgot about him until he showed up at the post-credits scene.