Aquaman (2018)

JAMES WAN

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.  Australia/USA, 2018.  DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Panoramic Pictures, Rodeo FX, The Safran Company, Warner Bros..  Story by Geoff Johns, James Wan, Will Beall, Screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, based on Aquaman created by Mort Weisinger, Paul Norris.  Cinematography by Don Burgess.  Produced by Rob Cowan, Peter Safran.  Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams.  Production Design by Bill Brzeski.   Costume Design by Kym Barrett.  Film Editing by Kirk M. Morri.

Amber Heard and Jason Momoa in Aquaman.

The Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) washed up on shore and won the heart of a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison), but a few years later had to abandon her husband and small child or else risk the rage of her home kingdom being wreaked upon the human world.  Decades later, the boy has grown into a bar-fightin’ hunk (Jason Momoa) who exists ambivalently between worlds, gifted with abilities to swim fast and talk to whales but also looking pretty kickass in tight jeans on a motorcycle.  His anger at the place that took his mother away from him means that he is unmoved when a beautiful princess (Amber Heard) emerges from the waves begging him to come help save the planet from his warmongering half-brother (Patrick Wilson), who would like to spread his oceanic superiority over humanity and make regular mortals his slaves.  To do so would mean voyaging to a mythical place to find an all-powerful Trident that will help Momoa lay claim to his rightful throne and unite the worlds of aquatic and land life, but first he has to survive having every conversation in the movie interrupted by explosions.  If you think the film is going to have a charming environmental message, you would be wrong; instead, beautiful recreations of worlds deep beneath the brine are undone by humorless, noisy fights and a bloated, self-important tone.  Momoa doesn’t have the acting chops to match his physical grandeur, his attempts at the film’s humorous lines seem more like he’s making excuses to finish early, while Heard seems quite impatient to try and bring him up to speed with her own skills.  The pedigree of the supporting cast, which also includes Willem Dafoe, gives a great deal more class to the funky hairstyles than they deserve (who knew aquatic life required so many top-knots and chignons) but director James Wan has no idea what opportunities for creative fun exist in this tale.

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