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‘Aquaman’ (review by Leyla Mikkelsen)

Produced by Peter Safran, Rob Cowan
Screenplay by Will Beall,
David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
Story by Geoff Johns, James Wan, Will Beall
Based on Aquaman by
Mort Weisinger & Paul Norris

Directed by James Wan
Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard,
Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson,
Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II,
Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison

 

For the DCEU, 2017 was a mixed bag; while Wonder Woman won the hearts of audiences and critics alike, Justice League turned out to be an unimpressive box office bust.

As such, most viewers have since completely zoned out of anything not pertaining to the continued solo adventures of Wonder Woman, and plenty of people have expressed feelings of severe apathy towards Aquaman’s first standalone film.

Skeptical as many may be, the novelty of the Atlantean superhero finally getting his own film nonetheless works in Aquaman’s favor.

The production team was clearly aware of this and that it meant they could do pretty much whatever they wanted with this character and his world, as no one would have anything to compare it to per se.

This original approach was already evident for the genius idea to make Arthur Curry a Pacific Islander, a creative decision that revitalized the eternally mocked character we knew before Jason Momoa arrived to imbue him with not only his refreshingly rugged rock’n’roll charisma, but also bringing sincere diversity to the table by having Aquaman portrayed by a person from a culture that is arguably a very fitting choice for such a character.

Doing what he does best, Jason Momoa charmingly smirks and wisecracks his way through he film, and while his onscreen chemistry with Amber Heard leaves something to be desired, all parties involved seem to revel in the unabashed campiness that soaks every frame. Both heroes and villains feel like they could just as well belong in a fantasy flick of decades past, and while that hardly makes Aquaman a thespian masterpiece, it still manages to inject enough personality into the film to keep you invested as the goofy mayhem unfolds.

As for those who have claimed that the DCEU was too dark and serious compared to lighthearted Marvel, it looks like all the brightness and silliness of the DCEU was hiding in the oceanic depths of Atlantis all along. The CGI bombards the senses with myriads of colorful, glowing creatures and landscapes that seem both ancient and futuristic all at once, giving the film an intriguing, other-wordly feel.

In fact, Aquaman feels like someone took Avatar, The Abyss, Indiana Jones, Tron, Romancing the Stone, Thor: Ragnarok and The Lord of the Rings, threw them into an overpowered blender together with copious amounts of bright CGI and dialogue best described as waterlogged cheese before serving it with a sprinkling of Dolph Lundgren as a seahorse-riding merman on top of this oversaturated cinematic protein shake.

If that sounds like a dizzyingly huge amount of movie to process, it is because that is exactly the kind of brain-melting excessiveness Aquaman has achieved. Equally flawed and fun, many will undoubtedly find the the bloated narrative and visuals of film endearing due to its utterly carefree nature, while others in turn will find it as off-putting as a seafood buffet left out in the sun, and neither party would be wrong.

There is almost too much movie here to take in, and the film does indeed feel overly long at times with its nearly two and a half hours of unbridled cinematic extravagance. Where other DCEU films have been mercilessly chopped down too much, ironically, Aquaman could have benefitted from some sequences being left on the cutting room floor. This would have kept the narrative from stalling, as it continuously seems to get stuck in repetitive plot points that veer dangerously close to being downright disengaging.

On the other hand, the absurdly over-the-top narrative, the seemingly endless amount of locations we must visit with our heroes and the bombastic visuals are mesmerizingly bold.

One thing is for sure, though; Aquaman truly is an oceanic adventure that needs to be seen in all its ludicrous glory to be believed.

Verdict: 7 out of 10.

 

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