I may be forty years outside the intended target audience age for this movie but that didn’t stop me staring amazeballs with my jaw dropped firmly to the floor in dumfounded amazement for just about every minute of this film. Marveling at what $225 million gets you these days as far as circus-like, cinematic mega-extravaganza wild rides go turned out to be so much fun.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t go within a 100 miles of any cinema showing a superhero movie, having grown up a number of decades past. But we’d promised to take our eight year old daughter to her first ‘adult’ film (she still needed one of those black leather child booster cushions to see the screen) so I was in some ways living vicariously through her.
When I was my daughters age, Aquaman looked like this –
And I used to love it.
Now he looks like this and I still love it –
Yep, there’s stunning eye-candy and then there’s AQUAMAN. ‘Next level’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. Filmed principally at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast in Australia, critics have rightly labelled this the best thing to come out of the DC Universe canon since the THE DARK KNIGHT (2008). Considering that Christopher Nolan directed masterpiece with it’s Heath Ledger imbibed turns of genius rewrote the standard for what superhero movies could aspire to be, that is high praise indeed.
Apart from where it was made, the other Aussie connection to this film is Nicole Kidman (who coincidentally, along with AQUAMAN star Jason Momoa, was also born in Honolulu, Hawaii). 51 year old Kidman, who looks barely a day older than when she appeared in my all-time favourite movie of hers, the mid-nineties Gus Van Sant directed TO DIE FOR, plays Aquaman’s mother Atlanna.
In another coincidence, Kidman is the exact same age as Jason Momoa’s real life wife Lisa Bonnet (she of the THE COSBY SHOW back in the 1980’s, the series she was famously fired from in 1991). That’s the same real life 12-year-age-gap between Aquaman and his reel-life mother and Aquaman and his real-life wife. Whatever, right?And speaking of Jason Momoa, how about him! He’s undergone quite the transformation to assume the hulking form he is today, as the pictures above testify to. He portrayed the title protagonist in Conan the Barbarian (2011), a reimagining of the 1982 film of the same name and a role made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger and his rise to fame includes parts in BATMAN Vs SUPERMAN (2016) and JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017).
He plays Aquaman with the sort of charm reminiscent of an early Marlon Brando. Instead of a blonde All-American boy type (see 1960’s cartoon opener) Momoa plays him more as a leather-clad, tattooed biker. He also genuinely looks like he could physically pulverise with one hand tied behind his back a posse of other superhero’s who, for dignity’s sake, shall remain nameless here. (Ok then – Ironman, Spiderman and Captain America – are you listening?) And to complete the picture he fights all comers like a thrashing machine in this adrenaline-charged thrill-ride of a movie.
Throughout the length of this movie I watched with interest the character of King Nereus, the father of Aquaman‘s love interest Mera (played by Johnny Depp’s ex, Amber Heard) with the nagging suspicion that I knew the actor playing this part from some place. Yet try as I might I just couldn’t place him. That was until the credit’s came rolling on (this is one movie you won’t want to leave the theatre in the middle of the scroll-through of production names due to unfinished end scenes that play in the middle of them) and I realised for near two and a half hours I’d been gazing at my old mate Ivan Drago! (Dolph Lundgren). I know the producers inserted him in AQUAMAN just for the likes of me so I’m pretty grateful.
Every frame of AQUAMAN has marvelous details that you might not catch on first viewing. The Atlanteans use their mouths to speak, but there are no visible bubbles, only vocal distortion that suggests “bubbly-ness.” When the characters aren’t swimming at dolphin speeds, they square off against each other as if they’re standing on a sidewalk on land, bobbing ever-so-slightly. It’s all so well done.
Naturally there’s been the odd dissenter (HERE) who’s given a less glowing account of the film then the one I’ve provided but haters gonna hate and haters most definitely gonna nitpick. As I’m departing a movie theatre I usually like to eavesdrop on a sample of conversation to gauge what people thought of a film. On this occasion I overheard this from a popcorn maxi-box holding teenager – “The visuals were great but everything else was crap”.
And as to that critic who wrote – “I did not think Warner Brothers and DC Films could make a worse movie than Green Lantern, but Aquaman is that movie. The point at which Aquaman stepped on my last shred of hope was when the octopus played the drums” – I say two things (1) It’s pretty clear you don’t know your AQUAMAN backstory and (2) it’s called a sense of humour. Perhaps you could try developing one.
I went into this movie expecting the usual ‘valleys and mountains’ type rhythm commonly found in these type of films ie moments of explosive action interspersed with slower periods of exposition, dialogue and back story. Yet for me this film passed in a heartbeat with not a dull moment.
AQUAMAN flows. God does it flow! Just like water.
Ps. How’s this for AQUAMAN backstory: according to lore within the DC Universe, it was actually The Flash that came up with the name AQUAMAN –