Fish out of water superhero film fails to make a splash (Aquaman review)

DC have done it again! Thrown loads of money at a massive CGI fest that forgets that the script is where some of the best films start. Aquaman is a ludicrous premise, and many people were unsure how DC would manage to well adapt this superhero in their dark cinematic universe. The answer is they haven’t, and what’s left is another inconsistent, dull and dragged out DC Superhero film.

It’s a terrible thing to admit but as much as I think Jason Momoa is a great personality in real life, I was not keen on him at all within the context of the film. Playing the titular character, he was cocky, awkward and unfunny. Admittedly, a lot of this is due to the script and editing process. His attempts at humour aren’t funny on paper so even with the best delivery they never will be. Equally, a lot of his cockiness came from the fact that EVERY SINGLE time he did something cool, the camera would zoom in on his face while he smirked and rock guitars played.  His on-screen partner is Amber Heard, and the two of them have as little chemistry as a primary school science class. A forced romance between them had me cringing in the seats, and this clear attempt at a ‘fish out of water’ romance did not work at all.

As expected with the premise of the film, a lot of this film takes place underwater. This is where the problems start. One amazing detail about the underwater sequences is the way the characters hair (presumably CGI created) floats around utterly realistically. However, past that, all the special effects and CGI is questionable at best. The actors were clearly on green screens with strings attached to give a floating impression, and the filters the sound department put their voices through makes all the dialogue sound even worse then the lazy writing gives it credit for. It’s a shame, because other than the underwater voices, the sound design in this film is fantastic.

The design of this film is all over the place. Some of it is spectacularly well designed but some of it looks like a rushed after thought. Once particular down note is the villain of the piece, who genuinely looks like a Doctor Who baddie. The action is also poorly designed; stunt doubles are obvious to see, fast editing doesn’t fix the lack of threat, and someone made the terrible decision to have a huge CGI battle take place in murky sea trenches, where almost nothing is visible.

So much of the film made me squirm with embarrassment. Most awful was a moment when the characters are flying over the Sahara Desert and the filmmakers decided to play a dreadful rap cover of Toto’s Africa. The tone of this film is very messy, with emotional character work and awkward humorous engagements both totally failing. A huge emotional pay of at the end of the film left me utterly cold, and this is a real problem that is occurring with a lot of films. You can’t simply throw as much romantic or emotional music at the scene for it to work. If you haven’t properly set it up, then I won’t be moved.

DC really need to sort out their films to be more coherent, better written and more consistent with one another. Most importantly, I need to care about their hero’s, and right now I really don’t. This film is a complete wash of different tones, bizarre character choices and messy CGI battles.

Step up DC, because right now the house that Batman and Superman built is beginning to crumble.

4 Stars

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