True blue actioner

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Dec 2018 12:09:22




By Farina Salim Quraishi

Thrice is definitely the charm for DC Universe’s water wonder, Aquaman. After not-so-watertight appearances in two other movies - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), Arthur Curry comes unto his own with Aquaman and rides the roaring riptide of a movie with amazing agility and some mean action chops. Yet another surprise from the DC World after the wondrous Wonder Woman, Aquaman, despite its derivative premise, is surprisingly engaging. With little traces of the trademark doom and gloom of DC movies, Aquaman - with its spectacular visuals and goofy humour - is an aquatic adventure worth diving in.

Centered around Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, Aquaman is an origins story set in the aftermath of Justice League. Arthur, a reluctant hero who uses his abilities as half-human, half-Atlantean, to save those in need of help, still drinks like a fish and can even talk to them. Aquaman then chronicles how Arthur’s father, a lighthouse-keeper rescued his mother, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), queen of Atlantis on the run from an arranged marriage, in Massachusetts. It goes on to explain how then the couple fell in love and had a baby Arthur; and how soon after Atlanna was forced to return to aquatic kingdom to fulfill her obligations.

Fast-forward a few years and Arthur has now mastered his inherited Atlantean abilities. He whiles away time as a part-time superhero and full-time drifter in love with his drinks. Using his ability to communicate with sea creatures telepathically, Arthur patrols the sea, rescuing people when he feels like it. One such rescue involving a nuclear submarine and a gang of pirates goes all wrong and its leader is killed in the pandemonium. His son, David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) blinded by rage then swears vengeance.

Meanwhile, unrest is brewing in the deep blue waters as well. Arthur’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), the new king of Atlantis, is trying to stir up a war against the surface people so that he can control the seven realms of the ocean and become the
‘Ocean Master’.

With the help of Meera (Amber Heard), Orm’s fiancée, and his old tutor Vulko (Willem Dafoe), Arthur travels to the undersea kingdom to challenge Orm. After barely escaping with his life in the duel, Arthur sets off with Meera to find the long-lost Trident Of Atlan, one which will let him control the sea and with it all the creatures living in it, Orm included.

Director James Wan sure knows his way around in mammoth blockbusters and charters a fine course for Aquaman. The stunning underwater visuals, the spectacular action sequences and conspicuous lack of grimness despite the stakes being ‘super’ serious (read apocalyptical), all make Aquaman a whole lot of fun. The underwater world of Atlantis is a fantastic fantasy realm with sumptuous seascapes of different places and sea people. And if you thought the beasts seen in the recently released Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald were the most majestic creatures on screen, think again! Gargantuan lobsters, iridescent-armoured seahorses, weaponised sharks and an
armada of sea creatures in all shapes and sizes are lined up for attention and admiration in Aquaman.

The action sequences are another high points of the film, and to action fans’ delight packed to the rafters. Be it the Sicily chase sequence or the showdown in the lava realm or even the penultimate underwater face-off between Arthur and Orm; the action is a brawl in Aquaman alright! The film is also unapologetically over-the-top and refuses to take itself seriously. The goofy humour and whacky one-liners delivered by the poker-faced Momoa are superb and evoke wry smiles more often than not.

However, the sheer abundance of heroes and villains, plots and counter plots, climaxes, anti-climaxes all strain attention in the messy storyline which is all over the place. The convoluted premise constantly alternating between several storylines is a little hard to follow at times, especially when an action sequence pops up time and again. Though over-populated and yes, over-complicated, the story is very predictable with little going for novelty. With its central characters going around in circles several times before arriving at the film’s predictable finale, the wondrous water world looses its sheen and at 2.23 hours,

Aquaman feels over-extended and far too long. Moreover, despite being an origin story, the fun portions of discovering one’s power and its potential are just touched upon in the movie with only one single sequence - the fish museum portion - leaving an impact. Even the pertinent messages in the film about inclusivity and ecological concerns are just skimmed over diluting the entire effort.

Jason Momoa is wonderfully cast as Aquaman and plays the titular role with a lot of masculine charm. After a seconds-long and silent cameo in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice and a slightly better run in Justice League, Momoa gets good running ground in Aquaman and he makes the most of it. His metamorphosis from a drifter to a hulking hero of the blue is magnetic. His fiery eyes and fierce body language make it impossible to look away when he is on screen. Amber Heard as the brain of Aquaman doesn’t quite nail the meaty role. Shrugging her head and ruby-red hair out of her face one time too many, Heard struggles to shine especially paired with all-heart and fire
Jason Momoa.

Patrick Wilson is evil personified as Aryan Atlantean King Orm, who can’t get over Arthur being of mixed race. Abdul-Mateen is a little out of place as David Kane, while Willem Dafoe gets the rawest deal as Nuidis Vulko and is totally wasted. However, Nicole Kidman is remarkable in the small-but-pivotal role of Queen Atlanna. So as the Protector of the Deep rides and misses some of the tidal waves of fun rising fast and furious in Aquaman, brace  yourself for a grand visual spectacle, so what if it’s not entirely water-tight.

The Hitavada : O O 1/2