Aquaman (2018)
December 21, 2018 9:54 AM - Subscribe

The swift and powerful monarch of the ocean gets his own movie in the DC Extended Universe.
posted by prize bull octorok (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite


* Black Manta was used sparingly but had some really cool scenes, a solid actor playing him, a fleshed-out backstory, and he stole the freakin' show whenever he was featured which is exactly everything I ever wanted in an Aquaman movie. His suit design was perfectly weird yet menacing. And he got the mid-credits bonus scene!

* The trench sequence was strange and creepy and Lovecraftian and beautiful and I loved it

* Speaking of Lovecraft, Julie Andrews's character is basically a Great Old One

* It impressed me that none of the major bad guys ended up dead. I'm so used to the over-the-top setpiece death of the villain at the end of the superhero movie that it was pleasantly surprising to see Ocean Master just...give up when he realized he'd been defeated. AND THEY WERE FIGHTING IN FRONT OF GIANT PROPELLERS. Giant whirling blades of death in the climactic fight scene and nobody gets shredded by them! Refreshingly bold!

* In fact, almost every time the movie has a choice to go the dark 'n gritty route, it edges up to it, then pirouettes into something wholesome

* The script/dialogue is cheesy as hell in parts but everybody just kinda rolls with it and it never bothered me. All the cheesy/campy stuff feels very intentional and like it's supposed to be fun and IT IS


* I also enjoyed it when the movie briefly became an Indiana Jones sequel

* THE SEA BATTLE AT THE END was so cool and I loved the ship design but Aquaman was basically the least interesting part of that, riding into battle on Cthulie Andrews and yelling and making that pose with the trident framing his eyes

* At one point, a dead fish tangled in a six-pack ring floats through the scene while Aquaman and Mera are doing something. The movie doesn't call attention to it, it's just there. Later they go for a less subtle approach to environmental messaging when Ocean Master causes the seas to barf up all their accumulated garbage onto the shores of the surface world. "We are fucking up the oceans" is not the primary theme of the movie, and they do kind of undercut it by making the main villain the person primarily advancing this viewpoint, but I'm glad they stuck it in there anyway


posted by prize bull octorok at 3:20 PM on December 21, 2018 [9 favorites]

It was big and loud and fun!
posted by heathrowga at 6:46 PM on December 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

It was a lot of fun. I thought they pulled off the Black Manta suit without it looking cartoonishly out of place, and the guy playing him (whom I kept thinking of throughout the movie as Kevin Hart's taller, angrier cousin) was great. For me, the lowest point was the great mass-on-mass battle at the end. As with so many CGI battles before it, it was confusing and bored me to tears. I just saw it as killing time until the big Aquaman vs. King Orm fight.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:30 AM on December 22, 2018

It was terrible and I hated it.

The acting was awful. The dialogue sounded like it was from a rough draft of a script at best. Every emotion was unearned. The costuming looked amateurish.

So little thought was put into this film that a message left when North Africa was "still an inland sea" gave directions to a Roman Empire era statue. Which then provided further directions to a trident which had been hidden for "a thousand years".

It ripped off the only part of Black Panther which was dumb. It couldn't even get ripping other movies off right.

It failed the Bechdel test so hard that the two main female characters were actually left alone together for an entire scene and STILL DID NOT TALK TO EACH OTHER.

The only good things I can find to say about it are that Dolph Lundgren's acting has improved since he played He-Man and the bit where they ate the flowers was (intentionally, for once) funny.

I'd say that it was MST3K level bad but I worry that would backfire and end up encouraging people to go see it.

I want my two and a half hours back.
posted by kyrademon at 2:40 PM on December 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

I liked it quite a lot, although it was very much Avatar meets Black Panther. (It didn't literally rip off anything from Black Panther--the filming wrapped long before Black Panther premiered--but the Marvel film came out first, so the comparisons are inevitable.) And, yeah, it's pretty sprawling and messy in parts; even the first sight of Atlantis looks like nothing so much as the world's biggest bin of plugged-in Christmas lights. But I was strongly impressed by how the film took Momoa's basic oafish bro-ness and leans into it, making something of a virtue of it (and strongly implying that Mera and Vulko are going to do most of the policy-wonk heavy lifting). Part of the fun was how I was still subconsciously mapping some of the actors with parts that they'd played in previous superhero movies, with Willem Dafoe being the erstwhile Green Goblin, Randall Park having just been in the second Ant-Man movie, and Patrick Wilson playing Orm closer to Ozymandias than Nite Owl, his role in Watchmen.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:21 PM on December 22, 2018 [4 favorites]

This movie retroactively improved my opinion of the first Thor movie quite a bit.

At least the dog doesn't die.
posted by praemunire at 11:20 PM on December 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

In retrospect, I'd say Aquaman is a decent Conan the Barbarian fanfic, if Lisa Frank animated half of it.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:40 AM on December 24 [4 favorites]

After watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this movie was just alright. It reminded me that most superheroes movie can be done better.

I'm not sure if it's because I've consumed so much media, but nearly every beat of this film was predictable as hell and it felt kind of too familiar, so I didn't get the "new movie" sense of excitement. What I did like was that the visuals are great, and so was that action, except for the messy huge battle near the end. Also, it's silly how his whole goal of getting the trident was to stop the war, and yet he commanded the giant Karathen to bust out of the core and wipes out both armies fighting, and then had the gall to tell them to "stop all this killing!" My dude you just killed a bunch of them with that one move.

Another weird thing that bothered me was that he tells Mera he doesn't even know her name and has never been to Atlantis, but then she tells him that since he helped defeated Steppenwolf, he should be strong enough to be king. In Justice League, he definitely went to Atlantis to stop Steppenwolf from taking their Mother Box (but failed), and he was fighting alongside Mera so she probably knew her name. It's almost like the writers of each movie only traded notes once and had no idea what the other was doing. Not a good sign for movies set in the same universe.

It was entertaining and audiovisually impressive enough to justify the movie ticket, but I don't think I'd see it in theaters again.
posted by numaner at 11:26 PM on December 25

The only good things I can find to say about it are that Dolph Lundgren's acting has improved since he played He-Man

This is so amusing to me i am tempted to copy and paste it here just so I can favourite it again.
posted by biffa at 4:24 PM on December 26 [2 favorites]

I knew the movie was going to be terrible when the first shot was someone securing the flapping-around-because-of-the-storm storm shutters open.
posted by sideshow at 8:23 PM on December 26 [4 favorites]

It was fun in parts but way overlong and kinda stupid. By the time what felt like the 37th underwater fight, I was was done but there was still another half hour to go.
posted by octothorpe at 11:06 PM on December 26

I liked the crab people.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 2:09 PM on December 27

I enjoyed it, mostly because finally DC have served up a movie with a bit of lightness, humour and some imagination. Tonally it was a million times better than anything else. Also, I liked the had a villain with, you know, actual real motivations not just that he's eviiiiiil. TBH, I kind think that dude had a point.

I enjoyed Momoa and Heard, found him quite funny. Certainly, it was by no means the perfect movie, and was cheesy as hell. But it celebrated that cheese and earned a lot of goodwill from me as a result. It's just so nice to see a DC flick that isn't dreary as hell - a flaw Wonder Woman succumbed to as well, eventually.
posted by smoke at 3:16 AM on December 28 [2 favorites]

It was very good. Before the recent trailers and reviews, I'd have bet serious money this film would suck, but it didn't. As some above have noted, it walked a lot of fine lines successfully: it explained Aquaman without being a full-blown tiresome origin story, it had dark moments without becoming a dark movie, it blended comedy without becoming a comedy. I wouldn't say it was "great," but by superhero film standards, it was very good.

My only gripe was that Rupert Gregson-Williams tried to emulate what Mark Mothersbaugh did with the music for Thor: Ragnarok and missed pretty wide of the mark. But hey, I get it. I've tried to emulate things and missed, too.
posted by cribcage at 9:43 PM on December 29 [1 favorite]

after watching 'planet earth 2', I kinda think aquaman should be the one threatening war on the surface, we've lost 2/3rds of the near surface great barrier reef since 2016, that made me want tidal wave powers.
posted by French Fry at 8:57 PM on December 30 [1 favorite]

I think they knocked it out if the park on tone, casting, and character concept for Arthur/Aquaman. These being the things they seemed most likely to botch, the film was a pleasant surprise, even though in execution, it was actually somewhere between not bad and mildly good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:19 PM on December 30 [2 favorites]

I liked the crab people.

They looked delicious.

I enjoyed this quite a bit, and a lot of that was just enjoying Jason Momoa. And then it was just nice to have a superhero movie where no parents died. It was definitely overlong, but I took a twenty-minute nap towards the beginning, and that really helped keep the pace manageable.

My biggest gripe is Amber Heard's wig (wigs). Her hair looked like Bratz doll hair most of the time. I can't believe there wasn't a better solution to get that color.
posted by gladly at 9:35 PM on December 31 [3 favorites]

Re parents dying: I agree that it's nice that didn't happen, but I'll admit that toward the end of the film when everything got calm, just before he was led away, I thought Orm was going to kill Atlanna. In the 2015 animated film Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (which is excellent), he does, and these superhero films have often borrowed from other storylines. I'm glad the writers made a different call here.
posted by cribcage at 10:24 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]

Aquaman HEADBUTTS a BELL and a SHARK, thus this is a great movie; I will not be taking questions at this time.
posted by pseudonymph at 4:15 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]

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