What did I do to deserve the tidal wave of garbage that is Aquaman itself? I refuse to believe DC Comics can ever come up with a worse movie than this. Aquaman is such an eyeball-scald and an eardrum-shiv it makes me long for the relative excellence of Justice League.
Picture the worst Pirates of the Caribbean mashed up with the demented psychedelia of Green Lantern and you’ll have some idea of the feel of Aquaman, which even throws in some Sahara scenes straight out of a regrettable Mummy picture. Whether it’s Nicole Kidman’s kickboxing, Willem Dafoe’s man-bun, or the cheesy Bill-and-Ted-style guitar riff that introduces Aquaman on the soundtrack, every choice is crazy bad.
The whole production is like a gargantuan load of digital garbage being tossed into the CGI Cuisinart. Sea monsters come and go with so little explanation that you can hardly guess whether a giant croco-fish is to be dodged or hailed like a taxi (as Orm does). Mera saves Arthur in what appears to be a sporty catfish-mobile. This is one of those movies where the VFX guys are giving the story guys wedgies in the locker room, and the story guys just cringe and try not to look like they’re being humiliated. And yet the effects are woeful. A gun gizmo that shoots “energized plasma” looks like a plastic Super Soaker. In the Brine Kingdom (Really? Brine? Scary brine?) the villains are crustaceans who are less intimidating than anything in The Little Mermaid. Manta, in full bad-guy regalia, sports a football-shaped head that reminded me of Stewie Griffin.
The major rule for all jokes and plot twists is for them to be as dumb and contrived as possible. Confronted with an ancient set of rusty gears beneath the Sahara, Mera instantly guesses a single drop of water will oil them up nicely, then uses her magical water-extraction powers to draw a bead of sweat from Arthur’s brow. Meanwhile, director James Wan films the fights with maximum attention to cliché — Matrix time, the circling camera, lots of “Aaaaaaaggh!” and “He killed my father!”