Aquaman (Rated T)
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman
Genre: Action adventure fantasy
Despite the attempts by some fast-food operations to convince us otherwise, fish and cheese don’t naturally make a comfortable pairing in most circumstances. And in the few instances where this can work, it is still, perhaps, an acquired taste.
And yet, the cheese is positively overflowing in the latest fish tale to hit theaters. With all its glittery effects (it’s practically fully animated!), the much-anticipated “Aquaman” may on the surface look like a tasty seafood dish, but [not so] deep down, something really stinks!
This is the origin story of Arthur Curry, the so-called Aquaman, whom we glimpsed in the origin story of last year’s “Wonder Woman” and got to know better a few months later in last year’s “Justice League”.
We learn that the city of Atlantis, once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people, and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm’s half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.
If that sounds like fun to you, you would probably thoroughly enjoy “Aquaman”. Good stuff!
But if that sounds like the typical plot of a Saturday morning cartoon series from the mid-1980s – one written by teenagers, no less – then you, like me, may be squirming in your seat every five minutes.
Yes, the movie is truly beautiful to behold, with some of the most stunning visuals since “Avatar”; but we find ourselves wishing it were only a silent film (or available with a mute button), so we would not hear the nonsense that spews from the mouths of those on the screen, or the way the nonsense is delivered by the cast.
Now, that doesn’t apply to star Jason Momoa, as the title character. Next to those visual effects, he’s the best thing going for the flick; he tries his darndest with the material he’s given, so this is not his fault at all.
Rather, blame the genius who decided this cartoonish script, with a story which could have been wrapped up in a half-hour (if not 15 minutes), should be stretched to two and a half very long hours. There’s only so much CGI saturation and incessant fighting and blowing up one can take.
There was potential for something less ridiculous. An under-developed environmental protection sub-plot could have been beefed up; this would have made for a compelling reason for these ocean dwellers to decide to try to eradicate the land-dwelling human beings. We might all have been able to get behind that concept, but it’s just barely mentioned.
Instead, this child-grade action film behaves like a spoiled brat, changing tone every few minutes. When not impersonating “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe”, with its cheesy dialogue and over-dramatic reactions, we are served the most sudden and forced love connection in recent times, as Aquaman and red-headed mermaid Mera are apparently destined to be together.
This aspect of the story is responsible for the most jarring tonal shifts of all – the awkward attempts at occasional humor. These are few and far between, and come in a most unnatural manner, meted out every few minutes as if pre-programmed. It’s like a parent having to dole out sour, cheese-tasting medicine every few hours on the dot. I can picture it now: in the middle of playing ball with his son, Dad stops suddenly, like a robot, and says: “Sorry son, it’s time for your medication.”
Son: “But dad, do I have to?”
Dad: “You’re gonna feel better when it’s all over, Billy.”
Son: “Okay dad.” Gulp!
Dad: “That wasn’t so bad was it?”
Exactly, Billy! Yuck!
Underneath that colorful and shiny foil wrapper, this is just a generic fish sandwich, slathered in the blandest, oiliest cheese, and overflowing with more tartar sauce than should be on six sandwiches.
And you’ve probably heard: sad, pathetic DC, trying so hard to be like Marvel, is sneaking in scenes in the middle of the credits, when everyone has already fled after two and a half hours of seeing even Nicole Kidman reduced to the likes of an amateur thespian. By the looks of it, “Aquaman 2” is inevitable, and with possibly the most cartoonish and unreasonably motivated villain since Skeletor.
Hopefully between now and then someone will figure out which one is stinking this thing up – the cheese or the fish.