<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 19, 2018

Aquaman Movie Review: Sensory Overload With One Spectacular Scene After Another

JAMES WAN is a Hollywood director born in Malaysia but grew up in Australia. He first gained fame for starting the twisted “Saw” horror-thriller franchise in 2004 when he was only 27 years old and it has since spawned seven sequels. He also did the first movies of hit “The Conjuring” (also Part 2) and “Insidious” horror movies, and directed the megahit “Fast & Furious 7”.

Now, he ventures into action superhero territory in “Aquaman”, a very ambitious and ostensibly very expensive project with so much CGI special effects that produce a feeling of sensory overload showing one spectacular scene after another. Aquaman wasn’t really taken seriously before as a superhero. He’s more like a butt of jokes compared to other DC Super Friends like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash.

He was then more Aryan-looking in his green and orange costume. His only great advantage is he can swim like a fish and talk to marine creatures.

Now, he is played by muscleman Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa, bare chested, with long hair and so many tribal tattoos. He first starred in the remake of “Conan the Barbarian” in 2011 but it didn’t click. He has since done a number of TV shows, notably as Drogo in “Game of Thrones”. He was first introduced in a small role as Aquaman in “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” in 2016.

Then last year, his role was expanded in the ensemble flick, “Justice League”. Now, he gets his own solo origin movie where he plays the title role. It starts with his parents meeting one stormy night. His dad is Tom, the lighthouse keeper in an island (Temuera Morrison), while his mom is Atlanna, queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman), who escapes from Atlantis to run away from an arranged marriage. After he was born, named as Arthur Curry, his mom is forced to return to Atlantis. She never came back to them and they thought she’s dead.

Arthur has no intentions of going to Atlantis until a red head chick from Atlantis, Mera (Amber Heard), suddenly shows up to try to convince her to fight his half brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson), now the King of Atlantis, who plans to declare war on surface people (that’s us living on dry land) for all the pollution we are dumping into the seas and oceans that harm marine denizens, giving the film a legitimate environmentalist overtone.

Orm has always felt some envy for Arthur since he is said to be their mom’s favorite who received special training as a teenager from Atlantis’ royal advisor, Vulko (Willem Dafoe.) To defeat the powerful Orm, Arthur must first retrieve the mythical golden trident made by the first king of Atlantis, just like King Arthur and Excalibur. At first, Arthur doesn’t want to get involved but eventually, the reluctant hero is persuaded to claim his right to the throne. He then has to undergo through lots of exciting adventures with Mera.

Director Wan presents us with an underwater dreamland that will elicit gasps of amazement from viewers as it looks more like an over the top laser show extravaganza inside a planetarium with all the great costumes on crustacean warriors, lush production design with marvelous undersea architecture and dazzling aquatic transport vehicles, plus various colorful sea creatures like giant jelly fishes, giant sea horses, a giant octopus that plays drums, scary sea monsters, even dinosaurs. This makes the movie a true visual achievement, equalling that of Wakanda.

There’s also a slambang action sequence shot in a beautiful coastal town in Sicily with Mera being chased by Orm’s men as she hops around cobbled rooftops. Wan looks like a msichievous little boy given no limits by the producers in making this movie and he really goes to town with his curiosity and imagination running wild. At times, it can be exhausting as it hardly gives us time to breathe, and also cumbersome as it’s just too long at two hours and a half. At one point, our granddaughter tells us: “I’m getting bored.”

In all fairness to Momoa, he is quite effective as the half-breed who grew up treated as an outsider, bullied even as a child and with a huge chip stacked on his shoulder. He knows how to crack jokes and certainly shines in all his action scenes. He gets superlative support from Amber Heard (the ex-wife of Johnny Depp in her biggest role to date) who has stunning screen presence as a formidable aquawoman and Arthur’s strong-willed partner who quickly jumps out of a plane without a parachute. Also outstanding are Patrick Wilson who looks like a blonde Greek god as Orm and Nicole Kidman whose participation as the ageless queen mother lends some degree of credibility to the back story.