Aquaman: an enthusiastic review

January 1, 2019

So, ya girl got to go see this rainbow bagel of a film a week early thanks to being an Amazon Prime member (and an elitist, let’s be real).  Andrew is a very quality spouse and 1. wanted to see this movie plus 2. knew this movie had been taking up an entire chamber of my heart and lobe of my brain since it had been announced that Jason Momoa was gonna play the title character.  As you may have noted from this post, I adore Jason Momoa.  He is labrador energy in a grizzly bear body.  He is starshine and your oldest, most comfortable pair of shoes.  He is a waterfall of enthusiasm and he’s probably broken some ribs with his hugs, and he is hashtag goals.

We went to see it on December 15th, but you have all now had access to it for a week, so now I can talk about it.  Additionally, I have seen it twice, and although I was willing to vouch for it entirely based on one viewing, I am standing even more fully in support.

This movie, man.  This movie, which combines the beauty of James Cameron’s Avatar with the terrible dialogue of… James Cameron’s Avatar okay I’m done that was not true.  But legit, this movie was The Fast and the Furious: This Time We’re in Water  and I adored it.  Like, the below still is him while he’s talking to a man who is about to drown.  That’s the look we went for.

this is it, this is the whole movie

And let me be clear: this movie is not reviving DC like Wonder Woman.  This movie is not Wonder Woman.  I loved WW, but it made me laugh and cry and feel things about the substance of humanity and souls and what can be saved and what is deserved and where hope lies.  Aquaman made me laugh and laugh harder and pump my fist for CGI battles with Atlanteans riding on sharks and for Momoa’s pectorals.  It is an absolutely bananas movie, and I will slowly work up in levels of bananas.  Spoilers for everything: don’t read if you haven’t seen it and care about spoilers, but if you won’t see it and just wanna see me say stuff about Jason strap in

Reasonable amount of bananas

Black Manta

So they advertised Black Manta as being in the film, and he is, but he is mostly set up to be a recurring problem for our damp wonderboy.  And he’s… fine?  He’s not in the movie as much as I thought he’d be, but he is a part of this really gorgeous chase scene through a Sicilian town, and he could be fun in follow-up movies.  His origin story made sense: he and his dad are pirates, Aquaman shows up to rescue a sub they attacked, his dad gets trapped and Aquaman doesn’t save him.  Manta therefore hates him and yeah, that’s a solid backstory.  This isn’t even that bananas, it’s just that the head of the costume looks kind of like that Lord Farquaad costume from Shrek.  It is unreasonably large.  Also mantas are chill animals but I digress.

King Orm

The actual “villain” for this movie is King Orm, who suffers from the same problem that Killmonger did, in that when he talks you’re like “eeeeeeerm homeboy is kinda right???”  Like he is starting the war because surface-dwellers (i.e. humans; he’s not mad at echidnas) are throwing their warships and submarines and their relentless trash into the oceans, and that is killing them, and… shit, he’s got a point.  He’s so incredibly extra about everything, but we are genuinely ruining the oceans and while I appreciate not having a heavy cruiser landing on my home, we have to be less terrible.  He still looks like an elf from Lord of the Rings who calls the cops on the party next door at 9:30 PM on a Saturday, but homie has a point.  He has several points, in fact, since he has a trident heyyooooo okay please don’t yell at me for that joke

Jason’s little forehead kiss to his lady at the end of the movie

I really don’t have any commentary for this, but obvs Aquaman and Mera, Ariel in Real Life become a couple, and in the last triumphant frame of the movie that shows them, he hugs her to his body and gives her a little forehead kiss and if you need me I’ll be lying down

tbf if you need anyone with eyes who has seen this movie they’ll be lying down too

Fully into the bananas farm now

Willem Dafoe

You guys.  YOU GUYS.  Dafoe plays Vulko, the vizier to Orm (sidenote has any vizier ever in the history of fiction NOT betrayed his king or queen like) and just pretty much does what he wants?  Like it is hella unclear what his duties are other than saying “BUT, MY KING” and swimming a lot.  His job has such a good vacation policy that he can apparently visit Arthur all the time to Aqua-Karate-Kid (Aquate Kid?) train this little bastard to be swimmy and fighty and hidey and good with that trident.  How.  Like, does Atlantis have an FMLA policy?  How do you have this freedom? Don’t you have like, a to-do list?  Is there an Outlook calendar for you to plug in a scheduled absence?  What do you put, like, “training your nemesis to fight you, April 12 8:30 AM to 4 PM”  He’s totally necessary to the plot, it falls apart without him, and the training itself makes sense, it’s just odd to watch him go back to The Bad Guy after he’s done From Here to Eternity-ing Jason Momoa.

He also has a top knot that makes him look like a hipster Prince Zuko

him and Baby Arthur

I’m saying it’s bananas, I’m not saying I didn’t like it; I LOVED IT

The initial battle between Arthur and Orm

It is… just, a lot.  Our lovable, stupid hero challenges Orm to a battle to the death, because he is stupid, he is so stupid, he looks like a college freshman challenging the president of the campus’ party frat to a drinking contest (YOU WILL LOSE, YOU OVERCONFIDENT CHILD) and the challenge is called The Ring of Fire.  Johnny Cash is not there.  Lava is.

You know what else is there?  An octopus with a set of timpanis.  He has a mallet in each tentacle and plays the pump-up music for this fight on his enormous soggy timpanis and IT’S ONLY LIKE 2 SECONDS OF THE MOVIE AND WE MOVE PAST IT.  It fits the scene, and I adored it, and who better to play the drums than an octopus?

Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren is in this film as a watery king.  There’s nothing I can say to enhance this image; whatever you’re picturing is it.

The bar scene

These tough looking biker guys go up to Arthur, ask him if he’s “that fish boy,” he replies “fish man,” they say they have a question, and that question is if they can take a selfie with Aquaman.  The spokesman for the bikers has a pink iPhone case.  This set the tone for the entire movie (that tone is “Arthur Wants to Hit Everything Into Justice/It’s Not That Serious”) and it was great, my theater cracked up.  This alone was worth the price of admission.

Nicole Kidman

She’s a queen of Atlantis.  She gets a long blonde wig.  She eats a goldfish.  She is clearly having a goddamn blast chewing scenery and delivering lines like “where I’m from, the sea carries our tears away.”  Like that is objectively TERRIBLE but she delivers it like she’s in The Hours again and she is just so EARNEST and EMOTIONAL that you are listening to her deliver the lines like they’re the tears in rain monologue.  They’re not.  They’re bad.  But she absolutely owns the part of a stunning sea queen.

Now, onto my favorite section

An excessive level of bananas

Pitbull’s cover of Toto’s “Africa”

We earned this, everyone.  We did.  Our hero and Ariel are riding a plane to land in the Sahara desert to continue the chase for this trident (stay with me) and the plane flies over sand to a cover of Pitbull singing “Africa.”  And technically, Mr. Worldwide is just Mr. WorldRapping the verse while his Mr. WorldWomen sing the chorus and I don’t even know, guys.  I started laughing in the theater and couldn’t stop for about a minute.

Julie Andrews

This is a spoiler, but my girl voices a sea monster.  And this thing is like a kraken plus Surtur from Ragnarok. It eats people.  She’s the voice.  Like if Smaug had a girlfriend.  I absolutely LOST IT when I heard her start talking.  She’s perfect I love her if she needs a kidney she can have both of mine

Aquaman’s attire

(just real quick to the producers) CHANGE NOTHING, I DIDN’T SAY I DIDN’T LIKE IT

He is shirtless when he is saving people, which… fine, you know your audience.  Which is a bunch of desperate, thirsty people.

And then, you go ahead and put this fucker in jeans and a leather belt and leather armbands and a big ol’ necklace that is not affected by drag I guess and like 400 rings to go swim in the goddamn sea like that makes any sense at all and you know what?  Good.  This might have just been how The King of Thirst showed up on set one day and you went NAILED IT and just started shooting and made him walk through mist while a guitar riff plays and he is smirking and wearing what have to be the least comfortable pair of jeans in the entire world and good.  The world is a broken, sad place where logic infrequently reigns, and this costuming choice was chaotic good.



And I just realized we are all lusting over a character with a chain wallet

supports my theory of “Jason Momoa could wear anything up to and including the line from Derelicte from Zoolander and make it look appealing”

Atlanteans have evolved like a drunk cladogram

Yes, yes, I hear you, people who are like “okay but whales are weird, too! They were on land, and then they went back to the sea, and that doesn’t make sense either!”

But, okay, there are 7 kingdoms, one is Atlantis, two is Atlantis but not Atlantis because we need a princess who isn’t Orm and Arthur’s sister, three is people who are also fish (Orm mocks them by calling them philosophers and poets and…they can hang, probs), four is the Brine who are, I believe, crabs, for all intents and purposes, and five is the Trench, who are the scariest things to ever happen to me don’t TOUCH ME.  Two are dead and gone.  I… how.  How.  How you get crabs, and fish people, and gills, and not gills, and people but our city sunk into the sea and we did okay, and… what.  Vulko signs off on this with “our technology allowed us to survive” WHAT.  That’s like me getting dropped next to Guam and being like “nah I’m fine I’ve got my glasses with me.”  Like the rest of the bananas stuff, I’m psyched they ran with it, because the final battle was Return-of-the-King-FOR-FRODO gorgeous, but it makes less than zero sense.  Just because Willem Dafoe delivers the story and he’s supportive and terrifying doesn’t mean I’ll buy it, movie.

and, my favorite

There are dinosaurs and no one cares????

There’s another kingdom, at the center, you get there by going through the Trench, Atlanna was stuck there, the trident is there, they get out, but THERE ARE DINOSAURS AND EVERYONE IS FINE WITH IT.  Even just the existence of AN ENTIRE OTHER OCEAN AND WORLD AND THE REST OF IT is like “oh look it’s MOM”

Nicole Kidman is very pretty and your mother is very important but THERE ARE DINOSAURS




And Scales-R-Us here just swings back with the trident like “not now I got stuff to do” and lets the dinos stay there and… well, okay, yeah, based on a whole bunch of Jurassic Park movies that’s probably the best call but literally no one says ANYTHING about it.  We are too busy strapping plasma guns to sharks and letting Julie Andrews voice a calamari to even focus on the dinosaurs.

to be fair this is the battle

And like the rest of the movie, let me reiterate: it is Ain’t No TrawlaBack Girl b-a-n-a-n-a-s (please appreciate my fishing boat joke) but in no way did I dislike it.  More shark plasma guns.  More swimmy jeans.  More Dolph Lundgren.  This movie was everything I needed to seize some happiness, and I am delighted that it exists.  2019 is the Year of No More Gritty Reboots.  I don’t wanna watch anymore sad stuff, okay? And if you fee me a diet of Willem Dafoe’s topknots, I will give you all of my free time.

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