Frankly, this movie is ridiculous. The premise of the Aquaman is one of the loopiest comic book concepts that was ever created. There is something fishy about the whole idea. (Yeah, prepare yourself for a lot of bad puns her). Despite the silliness of the whole thing, it turns out to be pretty entertaining. If ever there were bad movies that won me over by sheer will power, than “Aquaman” can be added to the list. This is a mash up of concepts that should not work together but somehow manage to overcome the complete incompatibility of those ideas to make something that is hypnotically watchable, regardless of how inconsistent it is.
First of all, this movie is cheesy. In addition to the bad puns, you are going to get a whole lot of metaphor in this review. Like the soft, cheddar flavored goop that covers your nachos, this movie drips warm flavor over the saltiness of the sea. It is a fairy tale to begin with. The title character actually narrates the opening and closing of the story and it involves a peasant and a royal, finding love and trying to overcome the obstacles they face. There is a return to the glowing sunrise that gives the film a “magic hour” look, which reflects like the crusty topping off of your baked Mac and Cheese recipe. I spent most of the movie trying to figure out who the actress was that plays Aquaman’s mother. I thought to myself, where did they find this Nicole Kidman look alike? Then it turns out it was Nicole Kidman, I had no idea she was in this movie. Her scaly costume must have thrown me off. Also, I did not know she was so Gouda at martial arts. Some of the action takes place in Atlantis, which looks a lot like the castle in “The Little Mermaid”, but also the more CGI heavy scenes in “The Lord of the Rings” films. Oh, and just to emphasize the fairy tale connection a little more, the romantic interest in the film is given the same red hair as Ariel.
The second genre that is sprinkled on top of this souffle, is a Sci Fi quest story. A little bit like “the Hero’s Journey” in most of these films, there are a series of steps the hero must follow to reveal his true nature. The grated Parmesan covering this concerns an attempt to unravel some clues which will reveal the sacred Macguffin at the end. If you thought the National Treasure movies were laying on the Provolone a little thick, than get ready for a panini of ginormous proportions. For a movie set in the ocean, the characters end up on land, in the air and the middle of the desert for some very odd reasons. When the bottle has a secret code engraved on the bottom, which will only make sense in the hands of a statue that the characters find in a provincial Sicilian village, you know that fish oil is ripening and the cheese mold is finally curdling sufficiently to make you stop worrying about any consistency in tone.
A third genre that gets heaped onto this, like a slice of blue cheese that you don’t really need but over powers all the other flavors, is a war film with a Kaiju thrown in. There are elaborate effects creating different under water kingdoms which will battle one another at the climax of the film. Some of the characters look like elves from the Lord of the Rings in elaborate capes flowing in the ocean currents. Other creatures are orc like fiddler crabs with one enlarged claw and an exoskeleton covered in barnacles. They are approaching each other like Calvary battalions on seahorses and sharks. This is the most comic book type image you can fathom. On the page, these panels would stand out as illustrations of over stuffed imagination, but in the movie, which is already filled with a bunch of preposterous images, they simple seem to be the natural conclusion to someones gumbo recipe.
Aquaman is a comic book character, but from the D.C. Universe not Marvel. That does not stop the creators of this movie from flavoring the pot with some melted mozzarella on top of the French Onion. There is a revenge story with a pirate who steals technology for the Loki-like Prince who is Aquaman’s half brother. This character gets suited up like Iron Man or Ant-Man, and has crazy powers that he uses to try to kill our heroes. I think you will laugh out loud at the endomorphic head that the “Black Mantis” wears during the combat in the middle of the story. The top heavy look is another choice that makes this film a continuing bag full of Doritos.
The base that holds all of this mixed metaphor together is Jason Momoa. Having been introduced in earlier D.C. stories, he gets to be the lead here and he has the charisma to carry it off. Somewhere I read that this movie is basically “Wet Thor”, and that comparison is apt, especially to the first of the Thor Marvel movies. Both characters are masculine parodies, full of self confidence and blundering humor. They are battling against siblings who are plotting to take over a kingdom and launch a war. At one point they are outcast and seemingly disgraced. Thor has to regain the power to wield his hammer and Aquaman, cleverly named “Arthur” in a brie moment, has to pull the sword from the stone, no wait, I’m sorry, he has to recover the trident from the ossified king. Whiter we are dealing with Arthurian legend or Norse mythology, it doesn’t really matter. It is all nonsense but it is like a curated plate of cheese with enough crackers and wine, you will not notice how much it all seems to clash.