KING OF THE SEA. Jason Momoa is Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. All photos from Warner Bros

Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat? Well, not really.

Aquaman, directed by James Wan, actually looks more messy than neat, with all of its scenes drowning in a sea of CGI. This latest film adaptation of a beloved DC superhero is as formless as a beached blobfish and as noisy as a repressed porpoise during mating season.

The film puts spectacle on the spotlight and almost everything else, including plot and logic, in the margins.

MERA. Amber Heard is Princess Mera, Aquaman's love.

Carnival show

Aquaman really is more a carnival show than a proper blockbuster. It clearly has very meager ambitions, and does not intend to be anything more than a fun time at the cinemas.

Sure, there’s a bit of that save-the-sea motherhood statement thrown in for a bit of contemporary relevance, but as soon as its visuals go heedlessly haywire with dizzying crowds of both fish and fishy men engaging in underwater squabbles, everything the film is supposed to stand for or could’ve stood for is immediately forgotten. This film just doesn’t care for meat or relevance or contemporary issues. It is all cheese and coloring. It is as junk as the junkiest junk food.

At least, Wan completely surrenders to the film’s fully lowbrow endeavors.

The script is reminiscent of day-time soap operas where characters embroiled in some familial conflict exchange the gaudiest of lines. With such a detailed depiction of an ornate underwater civilization, the already garish dialogue feels oddly amusing. Some of Aquaman’s confrontations could have belonged to Days of Our Lives, had that long-running day-time soap considered a summer special set in the deep blue sea.


Shamelessly ridiculous

Aquaman is shamelessly ridiculous.

It turns a convoluted plot that involves an outsider on a mission to topple an overly ambitious monarch into an ostentatious melodrama, complete with a short-lived love triangle involving the king, the heroic usurper and a red-haired princess.

It then morphs into this quest-laden adventure, one that exploits pseudo-history for convenient plot points the same way National Treasure (2004) and The Da Vinci Code (2006) do. The film is laden with jokes, most of which are delivered with refreshing crudeness by Jason Momoa. The only thing lacking is any one of the mermen bursting into a song about how everything is better under the sea.

There are as much gimmicks as there are fish in the sea for Wan to shroud Aquaman’s deficiencies with.

However, it is just impossible not to notice the film’s deeper problems that are just veiled in so much shallow distractions. The film has two villains, but none of them makes any impact.

Patrick Wilson plays King Orm, Aquaman's brother who plans on forcibly uniting all the underwater kingdoms to destroy the surface world. Wilson struggles to add anything other than that blank and plasticized face of being resigned to playing a lousily-motivated villain.

Manta, played Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is gifted with the film’s sole potentially dramatic moment that could have made him into a potentially conflicted villain but that ends up flat and stale.

THE QUEEN. Nicole Kidman is Atlanna.

Runs too long

Lastly, Aquaman runs for too long.

Clocking at more than two hours, the film feels all over the place. Its few interesting characters who manage to have personalities beyond all the digital make-up and flashy costumes inevitably lose their charm and luster.

Mamoa’s charismatic gnarling eventually gets tiring. The fascination of seeing Nicole Kidman's discomfort over playing an old woman will quickly lose its campy flavor. The film is only a bash when it is served in bite-sized morsels.

Since it overextends its welcome, it ends up more tiring than invigorating.


 Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.

Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.

Source: Rappler

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