As much as I have complaints about the new Superhero DC comic AQUAMAN film adaptation, I have the highest regards for the film’s director James Wan. Born In East Malaysia, (a neighbour of Singapore where I was born), Wan is the only Hollywood successful director from that region. Wan was a skinny teen like myself, and his early photos reminds me of myself. He has gained fame and fortune through his talent and horror films like he SAW franchise, INSIDIOUS and the CONJURING films. He also brings on board Patrick Wilson from the latter two movies to play the villain in AQUAMAN.
Wan is known for his excesses. Excesses abound in the 2 and a half hour action blockbuster aquarian fantasy AQUAMAN, played with aplomb by Jason Momoa. There are plenty of images and CGI effects to gawk at. The film looks amazing. See it in IMAX and one will feel that one is in a gigantic fish tank as in one of those big aquariums found in big cities. As far as super-action hero movies go, there is plenty to satisfy the fan base. Superhero action fans will no doubt leave the theatre cheering, as in the case of the promo screening I attended. Surprise guest Patrick Wilson was present . Who can ask for anything more?
But one can. The film lacks any good plot development, character intelligence and spicy dialogue. When Aquaman is told that he has to save the underwater and land worlds by claiming the throne, all he can say is ‘duh!’. The script does not offer him any good one-liners either. Lazy writing leaves a lot of unexplained and choppy facts in the story. The effect of the evil that the villains do is brought down several notches by making them misunderstood beings. One scene shows AQUAMAN as a boy at a city aquarium bullied by other kids, when a shark in the tank comes to the rescue. Where did the boy, who is supposedly born and bred by the lighthouse keeper father find residence in the city and who where his foster parents? That one scene appears from nowhere and conveniently disappears. The key that only unlocks the trident with droplets of water is far-fetched bulls**t. The climatic fight underwater by the edge of the cliffs makes no sense. No one can fall off a cliff underwater.
The story begins in the year 1985, though Aquaman existed in comics way before then. In Maine, lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison ) rescues Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), the princess of the underwater nation of Atlantis, during a storm. They eventually fall in love and have a son, Arthur, who is born with the power to communicate with marine lifeforms. Atlanna is forced to abandon her family and return to Atlantis, entrusting to her loyal advisor Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe) the mission of training Arthur. Under Vulko’s guidance, Arthur becomes a skilled warrior but is rejected by the Atlanteans for being a half-breed and ultimately leaves Atlantis behind.
There is a subplot that really looks out of place with an invasion in which Arthur confronts a group of pirates attempting to hijack a nuclear submarine. Their leader, Jesse Kane, dies during the confrontation while his son, David (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), vows revenge against Arthur. David later targets Atlantis at the behest of Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s younger half-brother and Atlantis’ king who uses the attack as a pretext to declare war on the surface. All thistles to Aquaman having to retrieve a trident (like the Sword in the Stone) and battle Orm to ave the world. Yes, all action here films involve saving the world. The inter-racial subplot looks too obvious a political correct move. We have seen all this before time and again.
Still, as far as Warner Bros. DC super hero film adaptations go, (example the awful BATMAN v. SUPERMAN, SUICIDE SQUAD), AQUAMAN, as in WONDER WOMAN is one of the better films.