I literally hated everything about this movie. I was hoping that James Wan, a deeply talented filmmaker when he’s involved in other properties, would be able to pull free from the black hole that is Warner Bros absolute mangling of its DC universe. But it turns out, gravity will get you every time.
The look of the movie was not good, but I won’t even waste time on that because the bottom line is that the script was trash, and I don’t think any budget our amount of visual trickery in the world could have covered for it. This movie is literally wall-to-wall exposition. They obviously learned nothing – literally nothing – from their past failures which is that throwing everything and the kitchen sink at a movie because you have a raging case of Marvel envy is a recipe for an over-stuffed, under-developed mess. And that was exactly this film’s problem.
Clocking in at 2 ½ hours, it races from the get-go to bring you up to speed on an expansive and ridiculous underwater mythology. Now, there are ways, of course, to do some of this elegantly and efficiently, though the ambition of this film’s orgy of storylines may have precluded any non-amphibious mortal from finding a natural way of explaining what was going on.
But because they wanted to pack so much into the film they simply went for the path of least resistance which is to have characters spout exposition almost non-stop. The scene where Patrick Wilson rides a giant seahorse around telling a group of underwater kings why they have come to a meeting and who everybody is was a masterclass in how not to make a movie. I mean, they came to this meeting – don’t they already know why they are there and who everybody is? Could you not have put a little more thought into this?
By the time giant crustaceans started fighting mythical octopuses I was well checked out, counting the seconds until the thing was over. And look, I like a ridiculous super hero flick as much as the next person – but you undercut everything you are trying to do with that kind of lazy, almost insulting writing and by trying to overwhelm your audience with a wall-to-wall cacophony of stuff. Really that’s the best way I can describe what happened in this film. It was just totally, and utterly full of stuff. And not the right stuff.
Had they trimmed it down a bit, eliminated a few villains, explored the world and its characters with some depth and attention instead of racing about to tick the next box in the “world-building” checklist, the movie might have worked. Jason Momoa is certainly a pretty good leading man for this kind of schlock. And look at Wonder Woman, which told a pretty simple, straightforward tale with time for the relationship between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine to breathe a little – that was a much better movie.
Aquaman still did over $1.1 billion at the box office and has a 66% on rotten tomatoes. So if nothing else this film confirms what we already knew – that on the whole the world is a depressing place populated by people with questionable taste who will continue to underwrite the making of shit blockbusters until the Earth becomes a wasteland littered with the remains of a creatively bankrupt society wondering where it all went wrong.