DC’s latest attempt at making a big splash with their cinematic universe has arrived.

Title: Aquaman (2018)

Cast and Crew

Directed by James Wan
Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, Geoff Johns, and James Wan
Featuring characters created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris

A Cast of Thousands, including, but not limited to:

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Amber Heard as Mera
Willem Dafoe as Vulko
Patrick Wilson as King Orm
Nicole Kidman as Atlanna
Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Manta
Temuera Morrison as Tom Curry
Ludi Lin as Captain Murk
Michael Beach as Jesse (Manta’s Father)
Randall Park as Dr. Stephen Shin
Graham McTavish as King Atlan
Tainui Kirkwood, Tamor Kirkwood , Denzel Quirke, Kaan Guldur , Otis Dhanji, Kekoa Kekumano as various younger Arthurs
Julie Andrews as Karathen (voice)
John Rhys-Davies as Brine King (voice)
Djimon Hounsou as King Ricou (voice)
Andrew Crawford as Brine King and King Ricou (mo-capture)
Sophia Forrest as Fisherman Princess
Natalia Safran as Queen Rina

Premise:

A lighthouse keeper finds a magic girlfriend who turns out to be the outcast queen of Atlantis, and they have a child, whom they name Arthur. The lad receives secret training from another Atlantean and becomes a superhero and he angers a high-tech modern pirate who now wants revenge. Meanwhile, the half-Atlantean’s half-brother is looking for him because he’s trying to unite the Seven Kingdoms and start a war with the surface world because we pollute the oceans but then Arthur and his half-brother’s betrothed end up going on a videogame version of an epic quest because he has to find a magic trident and dear Neptune if they had just picked one or two plots and developed them into something interesting DC might have had a good film let’s not even get started on the world inside the earth’s core and a guest-appearance by “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cthulhu!” and did anyone actually sit down and discuss how this all would play as a single film because it feels like highlights from six seasons of the biggest-budget superhero TV show in history?

The only thing missing is a scene where Aquaman battles a giant kitchen sink.

High Points:

This film features glorious CGI, with waves of interesting imagery hitting the screen every few minutes. Visually, this film impressed me.

Occasionally, a better movie surfaces. The interplay between Arthur and his father? Pretty good. Arthur and Mera reenacting Indiana Jones/Romancing the Stone? These scenes show potential, indicating what Aquaman might have been.

Low Points:

…but none of the film’s multiple plots receive adequate development, and tonally, the film is incoherent. On the few occasions it succeeds at being a submarine Guardians of the Galaxy, it works.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 You’d think with this many plots, something would seem original. Warner has not only adopted the comic material, they’ve pirated numerous other sources.

Effects: 6/6 Aquaman is a visual effects fan’s wet dream, with stunning imagery and some impressive action sequences. Don’t think about too much about what you’re looking at, though. The logic flounders. Why would Atlanteans ride cool-looking aquatic steeds when (1) they can move faster without them and (2) they have super high-tech?

Acting: 4/6 Momoa and Heard show potential. The movie often floats when the leads get to play off each other. The rest of the cast can’t overcome drift-wooden writing, and so we’re left with submarine echoes of the Star Wars prequels, good actors playing half-realized characters who spout uninteresting and often ridiculous dialogue against cool backgrounds.

Production: 6/6 They sunk a lot of coin into this film, and it shows.

Story: 2/6 The plot is designed to be a multi-level videogame, and if I were inclined to play such games and were, in fact, playing such a game, instead of watching a movie, I’d probably think this was a pretty good one.

Emotional Response: 3/6 Abalone!

Overall: 4/6 Some people will want to just surrender to the crazed beauty of the film. I say the movie-makers should have done that. Let Aquaman be the fun film it wants to be, but ground it with the characters. The actors would have been equal to the task, and the effects people wouldn’t have had to sacrifice the key visuals.

You should probably see Into the Spider-verse instead.

In total, Aquaman receives 27/42