The Aquaman Experience

The name Aquaman means different things to different people. To some people, it’s one of the new December movies they should go see with their family. To some, it’s the type of movie they should see because they don’t do Nollywood. To people like me, it’s the movie we hope we have been waiting for – the movie that saves the DC Cinematic Universe.

The first two batch possibly don’t even know what the last batch is talking about– they just wanna see a movie. But guess what? Aquaman makes the grade of all– of everyone who sat in the dark room staring at the giant screen with different expectations, Aquaman delivered.

From the director of “Furious 7” and “The Conjuring” franchise comes ANOTHER superhero movie following a long list of other major tentpoles that have destroyed box office records and the hearts of movie-goers in a good way. But Aquaman seeks to standout and it does because who knows Aquaman?

“Batman, we know. Superman, we know. Wonder Woman, we know. Aquaman we know not.”(Cinema chapter 21stCentury Vs. 1)

The film’s existence instantly makes it a standout because an Aquaman movie has never been made. In fact, the titular character has been the butt of nerdy jokes for decades. James Wan (director) promised to turn these jokes to strength. Did he?

My theatre was scanty at first– just four souls. I was happy. Then five minutes into the movie, it was full. Some people like making an entrance. Actually, I think everyone likes an entrance which is why I was angry they came late, not because of the obvious noise that accompanies a crowd but because of the entrance they missed – James Wan’s.

A woman’s washed ashore. A man saves her. She’s a princess banished from her water kingdom. She falls in love with her saviour. They bore a child. His name is Arthur… Arthur Curry. We will know him as Aquaman.

Nicole Kidman plays the mother of the future superhero and she owned her character to the extent that her name was the first thing I jotted. I’d earlier promised myself I wouldn’t review. She forced me to.

The emotional opening and the subsequent parting of mother and son already got the audience sniffing. What better entrance is there?

It only got better. Aquaman (the movie) brought in an unconventional protagonist who’s dirty (like actual smelly-armpit dirty), carefree and doesn’t want to be a hero (well, they all started out skeptic but this one has the right of it He ain’t no Tony Stark or Clark Kent, all he can do is talk to fishes.)

While Black Panther makes you marvel at archaic tradition and beads that glow, Aquaman makes you laugh. Jason Momoa’s (Arthur Curry) quippy attributes had been brought to light in trailers but little did we know that was just little(haha). The jokes were not adult references or just ordinary quippy one-liners– they were light-hearted funny moments for everyone — children, adults, brokenhearted teenagers and popcorn sadists. Everyone was laughing.

Also, everyone was “wow”-ing. The first fight scene takes place in a submarine. “Permission to step onboard?” Oh wait, that’s the second one.
The first was Nicole Kidman’s character, Atlanna, empowering women around the globe that they shouldn’t miss Wonder Woman too much.
The submarine fight is straight up fiery. But it had it moments. Moments that got my mouth open. Moments that reminds you fight scenes will forever evolve with people like Wan behind the camera. Moments of….. fast-forward to the end of the second act: Arthur did something with his head to a giant bell ( I’m not gonna spoil if for you) and it is hands down the most amazing thing that has happened in movie fight scenes over the course of half a decade.

The carefully thought out fight scenes, most of it CGI’ed, appealed to everyone. The final fight which everyone knew Aquaman would surely win didn’t just appeal, it made the ‘winning’ receive a clap-offering. It is just like knowing it’s about rain and after it rained you can’t help but clap – why? Because it rained well.

The film got a little boring in the middle. Just a little because they tried to make a big deal out of the city under the Atlantic Ocean but it was underwhelming Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful. Atlantis is beautiful to look at. The CGI – no matter how much it costs – still deserves an applause but hey, we knew it was gonna be fine. Making us see the city for the first time partly through the eyes of a grown Arthur clearly didn’t
work. And I should probably stop calling it a ‘city.’

But there are things in Atlantis that impresses.

The Costume. Damn. King Orm looked badass in everything he wore. The Makeup. His hair. So fairy-taley but he sure looked like a king. Best Costume and Make-Up award category needs this treasure. I don’t know much about fabrics and clothing and I’m sure most of it is CGI but it’s damn good. Even the fishes dressed well.

Intermittently, there are scenes that you don’t expect to steal your heart. Some that you don’t expect to see at all and they just end up making you wanna stand up and shout “I love you, James Wan.”

Like the scene where Black Manta, a secondary villain played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, was learning to use the weapons Orm provided in killing Arthur. Most movies would skip that but James Wan sought to humanise his villains and fishes and he succeeded.
Also, the Brazil-like run on roof top scene that took place in Italy which we’ve watched over a
dozen times in the trailer wasn’t supposed to really freak us but it still freaking did.

Now there are issues too. There was a particular recurring mistake (that’s what I’m calling it) that
felt like an overused technique someone in the cutting room should have noticed. I call it the Explosion Interruption: So there’s a scene, characters are discussing and everywhere is cool then boom!, an explosion that blows the characters in front of Camera 1 away ushers in the bad guys. This happened at least five times in the run of this above two hour flick. It got to a point I wanted to yell “No, you can’t keep doing that.”

And before I wrap this up, let’s take a moment to praise the unpredictability of the script. This non-linear thing seems to be working well. The supposed macguffin – the Trident, does little in controlling the plot as Jason Momoa’s glorious presence; Nicole Kidman’s motherly scent; Mera (Amber Heard) supporting gig and Willem Dafoe of all people playing the good guy Sensei, even Orm (Patrick Wilson), the primary villain, all made the film character-centered and not a fight about some object or substance. It’s a fight about
family, love, heritage and the uncanny nature of humans’ behaviour to things that they can’t control. These are signs that the superhero genre is far from reaching saturation point.

What is Aquaman? It’s a perfect holiday movie. It delights the lovers of Hollywood and it damn well saves the DC Cinematic Universe. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was exceptionally good but it was no saviour. Aquaman, however, is the light at the end of the tunnel – literally and figuratively.

When a film caters for everyone, it’s hard to give it anything otherwise from a good rating score. If movie rating scale is at a 8, I’ll like to rate it 10.

Okay, kidding.

I’ll leave the rating to you, you and you. Every one of you. Because I trust, that as long as you’re human and don’t feel the urge to use submarines to attack ancient cities buried deep below the Atlantic, Aquaman will sure make a fan out of you. Atlantis Forever!!!.

Okiki Adeduyite

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