One of the most anticipated movies of last year was Aquaman (2018). The action packed two and half hour journey is expected to appease the audience, but, has it managed to do so? If you’re a smart person that likes watching good films, you’re not missing much if you decide to skip this one, writes Arafat-Al-Yeasin
I WILL say this much about Aquaman — it managed to make the latest member of the Justice League with a little tiny bit less lame. Jason Momoa is likeable enough to follow him throughout the journey he embarks on in the film without rolling your eyes too much. And if you do, it is probably because of other aspects of the movie.
Jason Momoa is a solid dude. He looks the part and looks like he is having a blast as the man-fish (or is it fish-man?). Naturally, I was not expecting much from a DC movie, especially the one about Aquaman. But, when I noticed the lack of ‘drama’ then I realised it was the Jason Momoa’s movie. So, I went in with zero expectations.
Having actually seen the movie instead of pre-judging it based on the recent fact that DC movies are usually awful. However, I am happy to say that this movie is not completely disappointing. That being said, there is enjoyment to be found in Aquaman. Some of the underwater shots of the city are colourful and beautiful, the story is not awful but it is not too creative with its storytelling either, Jason Momoa has a pretty charming on-screen presence and I guess that is pretty much it. The two leads are good-looking charming people and they get into some adventures that are fun, sometimes. And that is pretty much all of the positives that I can say about this movie. It has enough fun in it, so it is not super boring, although it does drag in plenty of unnecessary scenes to make it a problem.
Now, let us have some fun and talk about the negatives. This movie is almost two and a half hours long, it honestly feels like three and they could have easily taken out at least 30 minutes out of the film. The main reason why it feels so long is the story which lacks focus. Aquaman starts with a flashback of how Arthur’s parents met, his dad being regular old Jango Fett and his mom being Nicole Kidman. A few minutes later, the fish people come and take the mom away because she is the queen of Atlantis and she has to go back to fulfill her oath. Now, I honestly felt like the whole absent mom and single dad part of the story could have been taken out completely. I understand that they’re trying to give him a backstory and create some emotional conflict and all of that, but it is not necessary for this movie.
Arthur has enough motivation to carry out his goals in the film because literally millions of people would die if he does not. If that is not enough motivation for him, then he is not a real hero. The movie does not need this boring emotional side to it for him to have a justification to want to save the world.
So a few minutes later, Amber Heard’s character shows up. It looks like her only purpose in the movie is to be Arthur’s love interest. A pretty forced love interest, by the way. You could argue that she is the one that leads him to Atlantis and all these secret locations they have to visit in the story. But, it is established pretty early on that Willem Dafoe’s character trained Arthur since he was a little kid.
Going back to the lack of focus, once we get to Atlantis there is this entire storyline revolving around the city’s political issues and war among Atlanteans, between the fish people and the crab people and the kind of regular people that is just confusing as hell. The movie jumps back and forth between Arthur’s adventures with Amber Heard, the weird political drama under the sea and there is also this entire side story with a pirate that wants revenge because Arthur let his dad die and it is just like, focus on one thing, please.
Okay, so this jumping back and forth between storylines is awful because every time it happens you just want to get back to Jason Momoa because he is the only consistently entertaining thing about the entire film. There was a point in the movie where Arthur and his lover are looking for a secret cave or something in the Sahara desert and honestly, being in complete consciousness, I completely forgot what they were doing there. And then you cut back to the underwater politics and it is like ‘Oh, there is this political subplot as well, totally forgot about that too’. Moving on to some other weird stuff in the film, the casting choices are very distracting.
There is also one thing that kind of worked the first time, but it is used three or four times in the movie. I’m talking about people having a civilised conversation and then Boom! Explosion! And the action starts. It is a pretty lazy way to start the action sequences. Speaking of action scenes, there is one scene where Amber Heard is running on rooftops while one of the Atlantean guys is chasing her through the houses, breaking walls. That scene is completely ripped off from the ‘Fast Five’. There is a very similar shot or at least it is the same situation where Vin Diesel is jumping on rooftops and The Rock bursts through a window. Talking about the ending, the conclusion reminded me of the ‘Man of Steel’ ending, but it is not that bloated and unnecessary but it is still confusing, loud and there is just too much going on on-screen.
All in all, Aquaman is not a terrible movie. It is fun enough that I did not walk out super annoyed or saying it was a waste of time or money. If you love DC movies, then this is going to be like Citizen Kane for you. On the other hand, if you’re a smart person that likes watching good films, you’re not missing much if you decide to skip this one.
Arafat-Al-Yeasin is a student of University of Dhaka.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Art Culture