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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Aquaman

December 12th, 2018 by Marc Comments

Aquaman (12a)
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard & Willem Dafoe 
Running time: 2hrs 23mins

Arthur Curry learns that he is the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis and must step forward to lead his people and be a hero to the world.

I had high hopes for this one, really I did.

Everything I’d seen in the run up looked great, I liked Momoa as Arthur Curry in Justice League and I’m a fan of James Wan’s direction, so my anticipation levels were pretty high.

And, while the movie has a lot of good stuff, sadly it never seems to gel together properly.

So, the good: The cast here are all pretty good – Momoa has more charm than he should have, proving that he can take the heroics and humorous in his stride and is every bit the hero.

So too are all the supporting cast with Amber Heard’s Mera handling herself just fine in all the chaos and action and never looking short of stunning. Willem DaFoe, Nicole Kidman and Dolph Lungren have little to do but handle it with aplomb but sadly, the movie’s problems begin in the villains.

Everyone was excited for the debut of Aquaman villain Black Manta, played here by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who is superb but sadly, so underused it’s actually upsetting, although he’s obviously a glorified set-up for Aquaman II which is in the works already.

Then we have Wan favourite Patrick Wilson – a top-notch actor who is never praised enough – but who is, pardon the pun, out of his depth here. His performance as Orm, half brother to Aquaman and wannabe king of Atlantic, is sadly little more than a lot of scowling and shouting.

Wilson deserves more than this, as does Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Manta, with both villains ultimately having little to do. And while we can see Manta being a big villain down the line, Orm is clearly set-up here to be the Loki-like character of this universe, the is he/isn’t he villain of the story. I’m not comparing to Marvel here, before the haters jump on (I’m a DC guy first, always, for the record), I’m just comparing to something the fans will know.

On top of this, the visuals are stunning. I was worried that the underwater scenes would suffer due to the shear fact that they have to be CGI over-load, but they don’t. The world is beautiful and realised and by the time the battle breaks out that we have seen glimpses of in the trailers, the world is fully, ahem, immersive. The creatures and warriors look amazing and the battles are really well handled.

However, curiously, a lot of the scenes in the ‘real’ world look overly lit and full of digital enhancement, with many of the scenes looking less realistic than the world beneath the waves.

The story too is simplistic – and this is just fine – but seems to think it’s serious shakespeare-level shenanigans with much overblown and occasionally toe-curling dialogue and lingering shots on actors’ faces that feel really awkward.

Sadly, Aquaman looked like a real home-run in the lead up: the promotional material was great, the footage we saw was superb and we had faith in the cast and crew, but sadly, while the movie has a lot of heart and it’s hard not to like the core cast, the overall pacing, editing and writing makes the movie suffer ultimately.

Sitting above Justice League in the rankings of the DC universe so far, it falls well behind Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman Ultimate Edition, Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad. And it’s a bit of a shame really because it should have been so, so much more.

Fun but very, very flawed.

3 out of 5 Nerds 

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….