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If Aquaman was a worse movie, he would have been better

When the trailers for Aquaman were released by DC […] at the beginning of the year, they promised a lot of wild pleasures. There were angry aquarium sharks. A bioluminescent Atlantis, in equal parts Gungan City and Avatar planet. A replay of the Underwater Thor vs. Hulk Gladiators in Thor: Ragnarok . Patrick Wilson's deeply disturbing hair. Of course, at the top of this list is an eternally naked, constantly wet Jason Momoa. In fact, the promise of a DC movie that knowingly pampered the female gaze – and in a glorious abundance that was worthy of some of the best and worst films of the past decade ̵

1; was so important to these early promos that he inspired a very good one Mem.

The finished film certainly puts Shirtless Momoa ™ on the table. All the beats that were played in the trailer actually appear in the movie itself. In all reports, as was said in by Polygon Karen Han: "This movie has everything." However, this checklist is more or less all Aquaman amounts to two hours, 23 minutes extended cut of the trailer – smart singles, Lisa Frank's worthy underwater cities and all.

But that alone is not enough to save this hitherto dampest DC movie of what it could have been Aquaman is not disappointing because it's predictable or because it's terrible. Which fool of us expects at this point the true filmic size of a DC movie? Aquaman is disappointing because it is not bad enough .

This movie, which looked like it would eventually bring DC Entertainment to full, self-confident prosperity, is a far more confused, superhero film factory that thrives on high-end prestige storytelling, but in the chaos of decadent madness as it is. Perhaps writers David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall were trying too hard to rationalize the material by turning one of DC's stranger, quenerter heroes into something modern. Maybe director James Wan really takes his work seriously and does not have enough screws to throw the artistic caution away.

Whatever the case may be, Aquaman falls into an uncomfortable, hard, dead zone, making him in better shape than Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad but he only spares the happy anarchic predecessors whose ranks he could have joined, such as Jupiter Ascending or Valerian and the City of the Thousand Planets .

Some spoilers for Aquaman follow, but here too most followers are in the followers.

The plot is exactly what the predictions promise, and no more: Arthur Curry (Momoa) is the unauthorized child of Maine's lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) and Atlantic Atlantian Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman). He has no interest in Atlantis until his younger brother, the Atlantic King Orm (Wilson), decides to consolidate the kingdoms and powers of the sea into "Ocean Master" so that he can wage war on the "surface dwellers" who it is pollute the oceans. To save humanity, Arthur must return to Atlantis with the help of Orm's fiancée Princess Mera (Amber Heard) to find a legendary trident, defeat his brother and claim his rightful place as king. It's Camelot, it's The Lion King it's a goddamn patriarchal monarchy where a pair of fully thought-out white women in phenomenally bad wigs get one or two fight scenes.

Along the way, there are a whole host of extra delicacies – 143 minutes are pretty much space. After Atlanna returned to Atlantis to protect her family's secret, Arthur was executed for attempting to escape her arranged marriage with the king. In its place, the royal advisor Vulko (Willem Dafoe) – in his inexplicably ample free time aside from his duties to King Orm – Arthur visits the surface and teaches him to fight and swim in the ways of his people. The Fascist Teacher from The 100 (Michael Beach) is the fierce father of the B-plot villain Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a capable underwater pirate whose vendetta ridicules Aquaman's expensive-looking, but admittedly impressive, sprawling chase in an Italian coastal town. In addition, there are dinosaurs in the very core of the earth, in a revelation so natural that not a single character expresses it.

Photo: Warner Bros. / DC Comics

It's clear that fans are only enjoying the rococo decadence of everything from the mighty neon underwater world to the vast armies of CGI riding fish. In Aquaman there is a certain amount of self-esteem that contains more grandiose images and plot movements that were certainly missing in previous DC films. The story is so deliberately trite that it never really moves, no matter how far it goes in the direction of the emotion.

But too many aspects of the story cohere in a deceptively irrational way, which fits badly with a tattooed movie about a man fishing for a magical fork. Orm sounds quite reasonable in planning his revenge on the venomous, imperialist man, but he's also a megalomaniac who really wants people to call him Ocean Master. A compelling villain with a sympathetic platform is better than gold in these times, and even harder to find in Marvel's House of Hits. Orm's apparent sincerity and serious attitude to the surface dwellers is out of line with the rest of his deal. A film framed like Aquaman demands a Balem Abrasax, not Erik Killmonger.

Other potential entry points for Bananapants antics are not investigated. For example, Aquaman shows a whole subspecies of real fish people. They seem to be the pacifist philosophers of the sea, but they only exist to conquer them in a 60-second scene. There is a crustacean nation whose combat scene is reminiscent of the Dwarves of Middle-earth, confronted with the endless monsters of Mordor Lord of the Rings but the film shows only a few short lines of its leader. The audience is plunged into whole new kingdoms and types of underwater receivers, as if the cameraman appeared too late to work, trying to make up for the lost time. Each cut feels like an uncompromising compromise in the studio – the 143-minute runtime is deteriorating, though it's not nearly enough time for so much ground.

Photo: Warner Bros. / DC Comics

And Mera seems to be able to do her own, with her water manipulation skills (which have never been commented on by anyone in the movie) and her wild martial arts. Nevertheless, she does amazing footwork to guide a hostile, self-described doll as that of her people. (Because a true king, the chosen one, the traditional fish monarchy is something.) By now, there is not enough shirtless-Momoa video-viewing time. After a wave of advertising that focuses primarily on his chest, his actual presence in the film feels minimal, to a degree bordering on fraudulent borders.

Garbage can not be more speculative garbage if the viewer has control while watching him. For example, Jupiter Ascending requires that the audience give up any notion of predictability or reason within the first 10 minutes. And filmmakers can not give the world a Troll 2 if they actively aspire to make Troll 2 . Aquaman 's stunt-CG and loud, shrill lines like "Where I come from, the sea carries away our tears," are not enough to qualify for a movie for the Exquisite Trash Hall of Fame , 19659018] All said, Aquaman is still a step in the right direction for Warner Bros. and the DC Universe. It may be unreasonable to expect a studio that has invested a decade in dark, brutal self-nutrition to make its screenplay a movie, no matter how many Baja hoodies, rainbow sandals and literal kraken they throw at it. However, it is clear that the company is finally starting to get the joke and relax. "That was the worst pep conversation. Ever. "Is about as far as the humor goes in Aquaman but the humor he conjures up is still a relief after so many sour, gloomy DC movies. Get Taika Waititi and the Wachowskis to find out about the inevitable script, and DC will fully recognize his true heritage.

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