Just watched Aquaman. I’d been told it was good, but didn’t really believe it. However it is in fact excellent.
People overuse “turn your brain off” as a way to excuse like, fucking terrible shite movies, but Aquaman is actually a movie that is both extremely dumb and extremely fun, for once in human history. Well, not really for once, it used to be fairly common (c.f. a whole lot of Will Smith movies for example), but recently dumb has tended to equal bad.
Here, it doesn’t. James Wan was obviously the right director for the job, and he starts off with what seems like it might be a protracted origin story, but about not far into that he just switches to the main story and tells the rest through implications in dialogue and a couple of short and fun flashbacks, and the whole movie just zips along and stays extremely fun despite it’s 2hr 20mins length (felt more like a normal movie length).
Jason Momoa is perfect is Aquaman, even though/because he’s basically playing Jason Momoa, and also playing a character who is frankly, a dumbass, not an idiot, but definitely a dumbass. The rest of the cast is universally solid. Amber Heard is totally decent as Mera, Willem Dafoe plays Aquaman’s mentor, and is just amazing like Willem Dafoe always is, he never fucking holds back or sneers at the material.
There are a lot of “just don’t think about it too hard” scenes in terms of physics/biology (I’m pretty sure torpedoes are neutrally buoyant and that underwater pirates can hold their breath for a couple of minutes… I mean, I can hold my breath that long… whatever…), but the movie is directed in such a way that you don’t sit around thinking about that stuff because new crazy shit is catching your attention, or Momoa is waggling his eyebrows and exerting his not-insignificant charm, and honestly the battle scenes, both individual and massed are easily some of the best I’ve seen in any superhero movie - I’d certainly say the final large-scale battle basically outclasses Endgame in terms of style and spectacle, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It’s cheesy as fuck and it knows it, and it doesn’t care, nor should it.
The directing in general shows a sort of lack of regard for how things “should” be done which is almost like… and this is weird, Wes Anderson. It’s like Wes Anderson meets Taiki Waititi or something, only there’s a bit of Snyder in there as well. I’m not saying it’s as good as those first two, quite, but it’s like, it’s a noticeably unusual directing style in a good way.
And it’s got heart too. It’s not a cruel or mean or nasty movie (unlike all of Snyder’s work, and even unlike a lot of Marvel stuff).
The closest thing is probably Thor Ragnarok, but this is less ironic and less reliant on slightly meme-y stuff, it’s also less beautiful (though perhaps impressive?), and has less of a brain, but maybe even more of a heart (and Ragnarok definitely had a heart). They’re both stories about big dumb superpowered kings doing big dumb stuff against an incredible backdrop, in a good way, and both contain a lot of cute and stupid moments.
Anyway, definitely in my top 10 superhero movies now, maybe even top 5 depending on my mood. It’s like a superhero movie made by someone who was actually in a good mood - you don’t see that very often.