Quid Pro Quo | ‘Aquaman’ Makes Waves for DC and WB

Whenever there is a movie that has us all in a deep lather, there can be conflicting reviews. Some loved it, others hated it. Thumbs up, thumbs down. A big red fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) or something that goes ‘Splat!’

You know the drill. It’s no different here in the Matrix, with one exception. Our opinions are admittedly subjective based on what we know, think, and love about movie making. That’s why the MatrixMeter is a collection of voices creating one score.

For Aquaman, we learned two very important things: 1.)  this is a movie that creating some polarizing views, and 2.) there is no end to the amount of idioms we can force into a review relating to water.

Below, we will have our collection of voices, the smattering of opinions, and the overall score we give to the hopeful resurrection of a considered-sunken extended universe. (See? Can’t help the idioms.)

In Too Deep (in Its Own Way)

aquamera

If I could explain this film in 4 words it would be “not good, not bad.” Does that make sense? In my opinion, this film isn’t at all a bad movie, just more average than I thought it would be.

Negatives

One of the biggest flaws with this movie, I believe (and so do others), is the soundtrack and music. Music is almost everything when it comes to making a good movie, namely a CBM. It shapes every scene, and usually, some of the best movies have the best scores. Aquaman’s score is truly painstaking and, without a doubt, this has one of the worst comic book movie soundtracks of all time. It’s a shame because we have had a galore of superhero soundtracks this year.

The second thing I didn’t like about Aquaman was the script. In the first act, Arthur Curry (Aquaman) is portrayed like a clown, All the jokes and quips fall flat. The comedy around him lacks originality, ingenuity, humor, and charm. It reminds me when Marvel Studios changed the character of Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. They turned him into a lighter tonal character because audiences weren’t resonating with him. Back then. Thor was a stubborn brute, now he’s funny and courageous.

And that’s what DC is doing right now with Aquaman. He comes across as stupid for the most parts of this movie. Writing for a character is everything, it’s what makes or breaks the character. In the first two acts, he’s dumb but by the third act, the writing strengthens and Arthur is portrayed much better.

Also the script in this movie is very very very bad. All of the characters are written the same and don’t feel interesting. The only character that stands out is Oceanmaster. This movie is called Aquaman and he’s the least interesting character in this film. The dialogue is very hit or miss, the script is everywhere and is really cheesy. The whole movie is about Arthur Curry learning to be a hero which is brushed over due to rushed story beats and flat dialogue.

This movie is very cheesy and I mean really cheesy. It’s your average superhero flick with flashes of Saturday morning cartoons.

Positives

My favorite thing about this movie is Ocean Master who steals the show from an incredible performance by Patrick Wilson. I loved his motivation. His ideologies made sense and brought more to the table for his character. He had depth and benefited from great writing. I said this once and I will say it again. The best villains are the ones who you agree with and see where they’re coming from. I agreed with a lot of Ocean Master’s ideas and I truly saw where he was coming from.  Also, DC got Ocean Master’s suit perfect. It looks exactly like it was in the comics. When I first saw it in the theaters, I went crazy.

The animation in this film is beautiful. Atlantis looked visually astounding and added more to the film. The color palette is great. Every scene feels colorful. It’s a huge upgrade from the previous dull-looking DCEU films. It was technically and visually stunning, which makes for an eye-opening experience.

Lastly, the action scenes are great. The creators of Aquaman use a lot of one-take action sequences, kind of like what the Daredevil TV series. Right from the beginning of the movie, there were one-take action scenes and it was great. Along with that, the choreography was fantastic. I love one-shot action scenes because it adds more to the film and it feels real. When it feels real, you get more engaged in the scene. The action in Aquaman is engaging and goes along with the plot. None of the action ever feels forced and it’s arguably the best in the DCEU.

Aquaman is a fun ride filled with visually stunning shots but still feels like an average comic book movie and brings nothing much to the table.

Review by: Michael Scruggs (@MadVillainMike)

Hope Floats (That’s a Good Thing for Now)

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After Justice League became chum in the water, anyone who was a fan of the DCEU needed something to believe in. Then, we got James Wan.

His vision for anything he touches is 20/20. We knew Aquaman was going to be an oyster in a world full of clammy DC/WB movies that hadn’t reached its potential since Zack Snyder was unceremoniously provided his walking papers.

Then, we saw–and heard–Aquaman. Part Avatar, Part Blade Runner, and an overwhelming skosh of Spongebob Squarepants. 

Visually, this movie is captivating. Atlantis was everything it should have been — vibrant in color, majestic to witness, larger than anyone could have imagined. Leading us there was quite a journey, which began like a rejected scene from Ron Howard’s 80s movie Splash. 

There is Daryl Hannah, eh…Nicole Kidman, queen of Atlantis, washed ashore into the live of some watchtower operator in Hawaii. The story of Arthur Curry didn’t need much time to tell. He was a child that was destined to unite our world with waterworld, he talked to fish, and ran from his future. Fortunately, the movie is still attached to the DCEU with a reference to beating Steppenwolf. Timeline is there, which was a wink to the hope we needed.

And then, we got a campy love song that was force fed to us like a baby to creamed spinach. Four of them in fact, including one massive gag involving Pitbull because what CBM doesn’t need a guy who needs to be booted out of his current universe. So much for that hope.

The soundtrack of this movie was the worst! Like, up there with Scarface, Cool As Ice, and Rocky IV. Did James Wan even pay attention to the music in this movie? The score had some serious momentum. The inspiration Gregson-Williams captured from Vangelis and Blade Runner was clearly–and audibly–evident. Then, we got ‘Shake Senora’ blaring in the sea pod. The hell?!

Schmaltzy soundtrack aside, a star was born in this movie and it wasn’t Jason Momoa. We already knew he had chops to command a heroic role like Aquaman. Patrick Wilson, if you are familiar at all with James Wan’s work, is sorely underrated as a lead, so we all could have assumed his greatness was going to shine.

No, the star was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. He wasn’t on screen much as ‘Black Manta’ but he was captivating every single minute. The mark of a singular film is how its scenes can make a stand-out of someone who just stood up. Cyborg’s dad (Joe Morton) was Black Manta’s dad here and brought his paternal oversight to this film too.

Overall, the writing was campy in parts but was consistently striving to make the point–any man can lead but not any person can be a leader of men. The score made you feel it (although the soundtrack made you ignore it). The build-up made you see it. The action made you experience it. And above all, the story made you believe it.

Was this film “great”? Depends who you ask. Did it make the great difference DC needed? It doesn’t matter who you ask. The answer is “Yes” all day long–above the horizon or under the sea.

Review by: SPW (@WriteOnGeek)

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