Okay, everybody sing the theme song!
Does whatever a tuna can.
Swims around, talks to fish
When he walks, his feet squish
Look out! Here's comes the Aquaman!
Is he strong? Probably
But he has to swim through fish pee
Can he ride a seahorse?
No he can't, they're too small.
Hey there – There goes the Aquaman
In the ocean deep
If a boat is around
When they fall overboard
He'll make sure they don't drown
It's green-tights-wearing Aquaman
Not first choice in a jam
Unless your foe is clam
Oh yeah - he has a magic spear, oh,
You're favorite fourth-string hero
Here comes the Aquaman!
Pretty sure that's how it goes.
A couple of weeks ago I went to see Aquaman. I didn't have a lot of interest in the movie when it was announced, because, well, DC films are usually pretty awful (except for Wonder Woman). But one of the few bright spots in Justice League was watching the fun Jason Momoa was clearly having as Aquaman. Rather than being the oft-ridiculed punching bag of Robot Chicken, (let's face it, the 70's animated Aquaman was the second-worst sea-themed TV superhero ever), this Aquaman was fast, powerful, funny, and kicked butt. But would that character translate to a solo feature film? After all, the CEO of Warner Bros. once said, "...the worlds of DC are very different... they're steeped in realism, and they're a little bit edgier than Marvel's movies." Yeah... like that worked.
Well, if there's one thing that can be said about Aquaman, is that it's a movie not steeped in realism. Somewhere along the line, the filmmakers probably came to the conclusion that the idea of "realism" and "vast undersea empires that nobody on the surface has any idea they exist" probably didn't mesh all that well.
Aquaman is a bonkers movie. It doesn't even pretend to be realistic. It's not so much that it doesn't care, but rather it goes out of its way to be ridiculous. This is fantasy. It's a comic book brought to life with no regard for realism at all because there's nothing realistic about the subject matter. Even for comic books the whole premise is silly. Early in the film Aquaman rescues a sinking sub by swimming under it, and pushing it up out of the water. Somehow. Nuclear subs displace on the order of 48,000 tons of water. But that's no problem for Aquaman - he just pushes on it, and up it goes. His hands should just punch through the hull. I don't even think he kicks his feet when he swims. Maybe he's psionically making the water around him do all the work. But it really doesn't matter how his powers work, because the movie just lays it out there, and expects you to accept it. If you're onboard with that, then you'll probably be onboard with the rest of the movie. After all, nobody asks how Superman flies.
I should emphasize that this isn't a criticism of the film... it's merely a fact. That's what the film is. This is the universe it presents, and those are the rules that apply within it. Only the flimsiest of explanations are given for why things happen. Atlanteans can breath water, because a thing happened. Atlantis collapsed, because a thing happened. Aquaman has a magic trident, because it's a magic trident. In a way, this film is a bit like Thor in that we're given this preposterous world populated with preposterous beings, and that's just the way it is. And to the filmmakers' credit, once they establish how this world works, as wacky as it is, they're consistent with it. It's hard to break rules when you don't have any.
Fortunately, Aquaman is so bonkers that it's an entertaining movie. Again, Jason Momoa is a lot of fun to watch. The visual effects are crazy. The sea creatures are insane. The scale of the battles is epic. The costumes are ridiculous. Amber Heard looks like Mrs. Ronald McDonald. The action scenes aren't just over the top, they're over over the top. It's funny, it's silly, it's ludicrous. But it's a fun ride.
The story? Inconsequential. The villains? Forgettable. There is no logic to anything that happens in the film. But if you go into the theater with the attitude of just wanting to watch a movie for the sake of watching a movie, you'll do just fine. It unashamedly rips off more films than I was able to count: Star Wars (pick any of them), Tron, Close Encounters, 2001, Blade Runner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws (all of them - or for that matter, any movie that's ever had a shark in it), probably every Marvel movie, and so many, many more. In a way, you're really getting your money's worth, because you get to see so many other films that they borrowed from.
This is meant to be escapist entertainment, so don't expect anything particularly deep (pun intended ). Apart from pointing out how much humans pollute the oceans, there's little of substance here. Of course, rather than using their advanced technology to actually help humanity solve our problems, the Atlanteans stay hidden away in their vast, underwater cities complaining about it.
Even at the end of the film, humans still don't believe Atlantis exists, despite everyone already having known about Aquaman because of the events in Justice League. None of it makes much sense, so just try not to think about it. Just enjoy the spectacle, because it has plenty of that.
Aquaman is worth seeing in the theater, because of the scope and scale of everything. It's completely ridiculous. It doesn't make any sense. But that's okay, because it's a comic book movie, and it makes Aquaman a pretty cool character. Plus, based on the Shazam! trailers, it's apparently setting us up for the new tone for the DC Universe: Wacky!
Aquaman gets 7/10, because... why not? Now if they can just fix Batman and Superman.
Does whatever a tuna can...get it? Tuna can!
Sometimes, I crack me up.