Aquaman (2018) Movie Review - Cebu X-Geeks


Friday, December 21, 2018

Aquaman (2018) Movie Review

Directed by James Wan
Produced by Peter Safran, Rob Cowan
Screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall
Story by Geoff Johns, James Wan, Will Beall
Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman

In the wake of last year’s Justice League debacle, Warner Brothers/DC has been desperately trying to retool itself so they can have some of that shared universe moolah so effortlessly enjoyed by rival Disney/Marvel. Most evident (and dramatic) of these retooling schemes has been the removal of Zack Snyder as universe architect or any of his artistic flourishes that would have given the DCEU a more distinct, grittier, edgier vibe, and Aquaman (probably the last DC movie we should expect with any Snyder credit to it) feels emblematic of this messy retooling.

And yes, this movie is messy, bearing scant but discernible traces of the DCEU that could have been had WB allowed Snyder to stay the course, but at the same time it so desperately tries to address the issues of those initial DCEU films that it all seems, well, “trying hard.” Grainy, dark cinematography? Let’s wash the film with shiny, shimmery CGI (which, I’d like to point out, is quite impressive, verging on assaultive even). Not enough humor? Let’s throw in some corny banter between Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) and hope it lands, maybe let his mom Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) eat some goldfish too while we’re at it so we can really emphasize her being a fish out of water.

On the surface (no pun intended), Aquaman does seem to have pitch-perfect casting, especially with respect to the villains. I, for one, was excited to see frequent Wan collaborator Patrick Wilson take on the villainous role of Ocean Master, but the character (as with Wilson’s portrayal) was your typical one-note disappointment. As for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta, you can see the filmmakers tried to give this guy a compelling backstory similar to that of Black Panther’s Killmonger, but because he isn’t the main villain here, his struggle is consequently sidelined, and all those fleshing-out efforts seem for naught.

On the bright side, though, Aquaman is still leagues better than most other films set in the same universe (*cough *cough Suicide Squad and Justice League), so I guess we can take this marked improvement as an indication that execs at WB kind of have an idea of where to move forward with this franchise.

Score: 5/10

About the Reviewer

Charles SanCheese is an avid reader, student of literature, and pop-culture vulture. He works as a copy editor in Mandaue City and has lived in Cebu his whole life. 

He has authored several essays, short stories, and lengthier works of fiction, all of which can be found in the grand annals of his personal hard drive. Follow him on Twitter at @charlesancheese.

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