Aquaman

DC’s latest offering is a greedy affair. Part superhero origin movie, part Clash of the Titans, part Lord of the Rings, part disaster movie with a smidgeon of rom com, Jurassic Park, Jaws and kids cartoons added in along with anything else lying around. The inevitable outcome is a mess of action, comedy, epic and flesh crawling cheesiness. Having said that it’s not entirely unenjoyable, and any film that has Willem Defoe riding a shark can’t be all bad.

The plot centres on Jason Momoa’s Arthur, half human, half Atlantan, and his quest to become king of Atlantis and prevent a war between the underwater realms and the surface dwellers. Yep, that is as stupid as it sounds. He’s accompanied by Amber Heard’s Princess Mera, and the interplay between these two, particularly when on land in ‘human’ mode are the best parts of the film. Momoa is ludicrously well suited for the role, and if you can forgive anyone for the cringe-inducing dialogue, it’s him.

The underwater scenes in Atlantis and the other realms are a mixture of beautiful and unintentionally comic. This sense of ridiculousness permeates the film, and at times it uses it to good effect, but ultimately it doesn’t embrace its own sense of the ridiculous enough. Aquaman is like one of those world cuisine, all you can eat buffets. You end up with a slice of pizza, some beef in black bean sauce, chicken curry, some veg, a Yorkshire pudding and chilli con carne on your plate. It’s interesting, but not as good as a specialist restaurant in any one of those cuisines, and although full, you feel rather unsatisfied.

After all the ‘dark’ DC movies, this represents a deliberate attempt to add lightness and colour to their palette. Ironically though, it is one where a grimier take would have worked. A tighter, individual focus on Momoa, working with Mera on some decidedly human enemy would have provided more opportunity for the elements that work best. I wanted a metal Aquaman, with him drinking in bars and beating people up. It could have ended then with him discovering he has a destiny. The trouble with the epic is that there’s nowhere left to go now, just bigger and that isn’t very interesting.

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