I am not a DC guy, so I went into Aquaman with a bit of dubiousness. We Boomers chose sides in the DC/Marvel rivalry decades ago and you either were fer or agin one or the other with a fanaticism bordering on Cold War intensity. There were some outliers who claimed to like both equally, but they were viewed with suspicion, like pacifists who insisted the Commies weren’t all that bad. Adding to the dubiousness, it’s Aquaman, a blond spandex/fish scale armor-wearing guy who rides a seahorse and pals around with spandex wearing Aquakid, a la Batman and Robin, evoking the same uncomfortableness regarding their relationship. And he talked to fish. Fish.
Not that I felt any particular animus to the character. I watched the cartoon
back in the 60s with some satisfaction, thrilled that TV had finally come to its senses and was showing comic book characters, even if it was DC. Cartoon Aquaman remained in his wheelhouse, the ocean, and did ocean things so was not to be taken seriously. This movie Aquaman, though, is deadly serious, done up in the person of badass cool guy Jason Momoa who did quite a good job in Justice League…which I liked.
Yes, I know, that places me in a very small minority and lends suspicion that I might be one of those aforementioned pacifists going soft on the Reds, but it was pretty good. As was Batman vs Superman. See? I can be persuaded. Aquaman might turn out to be this year’s Dark Knight.
Instead, it turned into a mash-up of Lord of the Rings, Excalibur, Starship Troopers, the Cthullu mythos, Gladiator, the Little Mermaid, the Hunt for Red October, the Avengers, oh, just about every movie of the last twenty years or so. I swear some computer geeks got together and said, “Man, we gotta make some money, so let’s CGI every trope from every movie because you know people like that stuff.” There’s even a Skywalker finding his mother. I swear.
The first ten minutes or so was great. Nicole Kidman…or her stunt double… kicked royal butt and butt royally, depending on with whom she crossed tridents. Gotta say, all the movie fights were stellar. But, danger, Will Robinson: a copy of “Dunwich Horror” lies on a tabletop.
Now, why would that be? ‘Cause, you know, if you show a gun in the first act you gotta use it in the third and, yep, Cthulhu shows up later. Along with his/her fish monsters. WTF? Did one of the computer geeks note “Arkham Asylum” in Dark Knight and figured there was a Lovecraft connection?
I blame public education.
Minutes later, the scene that killed the movie: a line of armoured seahorses facing off a line of armoured sharks. With lasers. And all roaring at each other. I laughed out loud, then asked, “Is this a joke?”
No, apparently not. Even when the timpani playing octopus was beating out the Planet Hulk combat rhythm in the arena, when the Green Goblin CGI-floated around pretending he’s still loyal to the Master Race, and Aryan God Boy Ocean Master screams like Howard Dean on the campaign trail, you’re supposed to regard all this as serious and intense.
It’s like Springtime for Hitler.
I can go on and on and on but I’ll just hit the lowlights. F’rinstance, the entire Russian Navy knows Aquaman exists. Aquaman even speaks Russian. Fluently. Everyone on the East Coast knows Aquaman exists. They party with the dude. Yet, the news media pish-poshes the idea of Atlanteans among us.
Must be CNN.
There is an eeeevil villain who simply can’t get over that Aquaman didn’t save eeevil villain’s Dad from a watery death. Dude, your dad was a pirate. Sort of goes with the territory so lighten up. But noooo, evil villain constructs an eeevil costume replete with a dirigible helmet that fires plasma. You’d think a guy who knows he’s going to be maneuvering around submarine interiors would select something a little less unwieldy. But, it’s DC. Simple physics never bothered them. Like the Batcopter.
And for all their high tech, the Atlanteans are not the brightest. Aryan God Boy knew for decades where his hated half-brother lived and waits, of course, until Aquaboy is full on badass Aquaman before deciding to take him on. For that matter, the plasma firing laser shark Atlanteans have had a beef with the surface world for nigh-on millenia, but, of course, wait until we’ve got badass Aquaman on our side before making a move. No wonder the gods drowned them.
But Nicole Kidman showing up in a lobster suit…that’s it. Done.
Make mine Marvel.