Yes, “Aquaman” is loud, dumb, and ridiculous, but you can’t say it doesn’t fit the character perfectly. It may be the movie Arthur Curry’s alter-ego deserves, an epic spectacle of ludicrous joy that’s as dreadfully terrible as it is thrilling. You won’t want to like it, but it’s near impossible to look away. It’s a preposterous mess, but it’s also an achievement in creativity.
Director James Wan brings the CGI-heavy adventure to the screen with a classic origin story of the half-human, half-Atlantean. The story begins with Arthur’s (Jason Momoa) birth to his lighthouse keeper dad (Temuera Morrison) and undersea dwelling mother (Nicole Kidman). The story fast forwards to present day when Mera (Amber Heard) appears on land to warn Arthur that his half brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) is waging a war between the two worlds. The man must travel to Atlantis to face his foe — and discover if he is worthy to be King. It’s hokey, but it works.
The first third of the movie is actually quite good, entertaining, and touching, with energetic action scenes and dazzling visual effects. The story is evenly split in its setting that’s half under the sea and half on land, with great rough-and-tumble stunt work.
There’s some genius casting at work here with Momoa in the title role. He’s the polar opposite of the comic books’ Aquaman character, and he is insanely charismatic. Unfortunately, the performances are so wooden and mediocre that most are laughable, resembling something out of a late night B-movie. There’s Willem Dafoe hamming it up with an awkward seriousness as Vulko, and the goofy but delightfully weird villain Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) that’s more laughable than fierce.
Momoa is a riot as he doesn’t really need to do much except ooze masculinity. I love the rougher, tougher take on the third-tier DC Comics character that formerly made me, and likely most of you, point and laugh at how dumb his superpowers are. I’m not a fan of the character nor am I well versed in the DCEU, but I’m certain there are plenty of Easter eggs thrown in to appease the diehards. My only real knowledge of Aquaman is he’s that silly superhero that shoots radar beams so he can “talk” to the fish.
Two plus hours proves to be too long for the flimsy story and characters. The film outstays its welcome tenfold, becoming waterlogged by its halfway point. The final third becomes a cacophony of nonsense.
Regardless of its clunky, corny, laughable midnight movie vibe, “Aquaman” has eye-popping effects, imaginative costumes, and enough rowdy fun that manage to make it entertaining in spite of itself.