I know describing something as “ridiculous” can be taken as a negative, but in this particular case consider it a compliment.
James Wan’s Aquaman definitely has the chops to being a generic super hero film, but it excels above others by accepting how ridiculous the Aquaman mythos is. (Strap in, I’m gonna be using the word ridiculous a lot.) From a shallow (pun intended) perspective Jason Momoa plays the protagonist in a “Chosen One” style story about the son of a queen who must fight his evil half-brother for the throne of a hidden empire. If that plot description sounds familiar it’s because you’ve seen before. Or at least parts of it. This movie is part Indiana Jones, part Atlantis: The Lost Empire, part The Little Mermaid, part Avatar, part Star Wars. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not any sort of novelty story-wise.
On the other hand, what is a novelty is how well the underwater scenes were pulled off. While there were minor moments where I didn’t really know what to focus on of the amount of activity swimming on-screen (pun intended), the way these characters moved when submerged (pun intended) gave Finding Nemo a run for its money. My favorite was the hair movement in Momoa’s locks and Mera’s Ariel-red hair. I also enjoyed the ridiculous choice of Mera, in Little Mermaid fashion, to wear a pink dress made of jellyfish. I laughed as she tore that “dress” off dramatically for her action scene that followed. Speaking of Mera, Amber Heard was a surprise gem. I’m not familiar with Heard’s filmography, but here she pulls of the strong princess with hydrokenises powers beautifully. I hope Netflix is paying attention for when they make bring to life waterbending in their live-action interpretation of The Last Airbender.
The villains didn’t offer anything new that challenges the likes of Thanos or Ledger’s Joker, but the comic book accuracy is very much respected. Down to the ridiculous Ocean Master purple outfit and Black Manta’s helmet. Both getting really close to going over-board (pun intended) on the cheese factor. That wasn’t the only comic-accurate outfit as Aquaman rocks the orange and green outfit with no sense of irony. In addition, the amount of adventure towards acquiring the magical McGuffin felt like sequential storytelling from a comic book run. Kudos on knowing your DC Comics.
I’d like to praise everything that I liked in this movie, but it would require me to dive (pun intended) into spoilers. When I do mention the ridiculousness of this movie, I do hope that it isn’t taken negatively. This isn’t an Oscar-worthy film and, while there is an underlying message about the polluted oceans, it isn’t a cultural phenomenon. This is a fun romp with fork jokes, splashing action sequences (last one I promise), one of the best on-screen kisses, and a chosen one story that revolves around a man who talks to fish. The biggest takeaway is that sometimes there’s good outcome if you embrace the ridiculous.