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I had no hopes for Aquaman as a film. I liked Wonder Woman and Justice League enough, but not everyone else did (especially Justice League) and even then I found them serviceable and okay. But lo and behold Aquaman was getting some good reviews and being considered by plenty to at least be "fun", and I like fun things so I went to see it.
Two and a half hours later I left rather satisfied with this popcorn film, and it scratched a certain itch I hadn't gotten since Thor: The Dark World (as flawed as that movie was). But more on that in a bit.
First, the problems of the film. People talk about the cliches all the time and how it is fairly by the numbers in terms of plot beats, but to me the real fault of the film is there's quite a bit of exposition that feels clunky and more for the audience than the actual characters. Like why the heck wouldn't Black Manta know about his grandfather if he was the one who started them doing the pirate thing? With all the underwater stuff, sometimes it can also be very hard to understand what people are saying, especially during action sequences.
But other than that...? It's a very solid film that felt consistent from start to finish, and even internally. Most of the humor just comes from Jason Momoa, whose Aquaman is coarse, somewhat foul-mouthed, and extremely casual. The fact he gets thrust into this very traditional setting with a fairly standard quest to prove himself king is made all the more prominent when everyone else plays their part with a straight face. And that is feels very refreshing when Marvel films have gotten more humorous and self-aware, with varying results. I really liked the gravitas and seriousness of the first two Thor films, for instance, and all the humor in Ragnarok kept me from loving it and instead merely thinking it was fine.
When I see Black Manta wear his goofy helmet, but nobody calls attention to it, that actually helps sell it. That helps sell that I'm watching a story unfold rather than actors perform in front of me. If Aquaman had played its story with any kind of self-awareness, it wouldn't even be half the film it is because what'd be the point in taking the movie seriously when the actors don't?
For all the usual tropes, we still get mountains of great characterization too. We get to see Aquaman actually is plenty intelligent, and has a rough exterior but is a great guy underneath, and his ability to communicate with sea life is similarly played straight-faced and has a fantastic and thematically appropriate payoff.
I don't know what people were expecting from the film. I'd imagine some people wanted it to fail just because hurrdurr Aquaman, and others probably either wanted it super dark and cynical, or really comical instead because again, hurrdurr Aquaman, but can't we just have a nice thing? Can't we just have a well-executed film with heart, charm, and an earnestness we haven't seen very much recently?
\'s about where I am. My only real comment you didn\'t make is that I really liked the music, except for that awful Pitbull song that literally hit as I was thinking how much I was enjoying the music.
I\'m a stickler for music. About the only two modern Superhero songs that have really stuck with me is the Wonder Woman theme which is just so ATTITUDE I can never unhear it, and the Ant Man theme which I fucking love because it had the balls to not be in 4/4 time and has a great sense of caper-ness to it.
I generally like synthesizers and Junkie XL\'s work. Makes me sad they kicked him out after Batman Vs. Superman, even though his score was not one of the things wrong with that one.
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