I like to judge movies on their own merit – not as a part of a larger franchise, or based on anything else. So when I went to see Aquaman, I was determined to not be comparing it to other movies in the DCEU, because I believe that takes away from what a specific filmmaker was trying to do with their film. Besides, there was only one reference to other DCEU movies that I even noticed throughout the whole movie, so it does a very good job of standing on its own.
With all that being said, I still thought Aquaman was just okay. It had good parts and bad parts. The movie was fun and entertaining for most of the time, but the story was sloppy, the visuals were inconsistent, and there weren’t really any standout themes.
I’ll start off with the bad. It felt like the first half to two thirds of the movie was just setup for the rest. There was constant backstory and exposition being thrown around, which was just trying to hype up the end of the movie, which fell flat anyway. I didn’t find myself caring about any of the characters for any reason other than the fact that they were the main characters. They were one dimensional and bland.
The visuals were great at times. There was some really cool cinematography during action scenes that were new and innovative. But then at other times, the CGI looked plain terrible. Each character’s trident looked like a cartoon. And the final battle consisted of random sea creatures and underdeveloped characters fighting underwater. It was just too much to look at all at once.
To round out the negative aspects, I’m getting pretty tired of the, “Become who you were born to be” trope. Aquaman’s destiny is to unite the surface world with Atlantis. That’s as far as we get for themes, which causes it to not work. Jason Momoa brings almost nothing but a drinking problem and cheesy quips to the character. Those are script problems, but he does nothing to elevate what he is given to work with.
There were some fun segments sprinkled in, though. There were plenty of one-liners (half of which landed) and a really cool chase scene at the end of the second act. But other than that, there is nothing about Aquaman that makes it stand out. It isn’t aggressively bad, it just isn’t good.