“Aquaman” holds no water to “Moana”


Photo credit: Andrea Nebhut

”Aquaman” made a billion dollars — staggering, especially considering that “Aquaman” is not a good movie. There were several contradictions to “Justice League,” which I do not mind because one, I did not see “Justice League,” and two, who cares? I like superhero movies, but try as I might, I rarely cared about anything happening in “Aquaman,” mostly because there were more explosions than there were discernible human moments.

“Aquaman” was no “Moana.” I cried throughout “Moana,” but the only moments in this movie that made me cry featured an actor from “Moana,” and I think that really says something.

The film opens with a surprisingly half-decent love story. Nicole Kidman is a trident-wielding, literal fish out-of-water ocean princess on the run from an arranged marriage. She falls for the first human she meets — a kind, gentle Maori man who left New Zealand to operate a lighthouse in Maine. Classic. The role of her soon-husband is played by Temuera Morrison, known also for his role as Jango Fett and, more importantly, Chief Tui in the greatest film of all time: “Moana.” This love story lasts 10 whole minutes and is the most compelling part of the movie. Also, it features Nicole Kidman eating a pet fish.

Later, the only other named woman in the film shows up wearing what appears to be a $50 Little Mermaid cosplay outfit. I knew within five seconds that Mera, played by Amber Heard, would be the film’s token woman. As such, I was a hundred percent sure that despite it being inconsequential to the plot, this woman was totally going to make out with Aquaman by the end of the film. Sure enough, despite absolutely no chemistry and their active dislike of one another, the pair makes out for 30 full seconds in the middle of a full-on battle because they are both hot and it is a very dumb movie. While they are frenching, explosions go off in the background. Director James Wan realized too late the lack of fireworks between his two leads and added some in post. Explosions also went off for literally no reason during a way-too-long kiss in Netflix’s “The Kissing Booth,” which is no doubt a far worse movie than “Aquaman.” Because no, “Aquaman” is not the worst movie ever. It is just not good.

Like Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” — a film that is a thousand times better but still forgettable, which I also watched this year with my brother — “Aquaman” portrays a presumed dead mother that is rescued from some mystical realm and comes out looking nothing like she would have looked if had she actually spent decades in that place. The realm where Nicole Kidman lived for decades without aging had dinosaurs in it. Dinosaurs are also a prominent feature of “Jurassic Park,” a much better film than “Aquaman.”

Speaking of Park, another thing “Aquaman” shares with “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is colossally wasting the comedic talents of Randall Park, the second hottest dude to star opposite Constance Wu — the first being, of course, Henry Golding in “Crazy Rich Asians.” “Crazy Rich Asians” is superior to “Aquaman” in literally every way.

The actors truly try their very hardest with cheesy dialogue pulled straight from a Saturday morning cartoon. The story was a hot mess of expositional world-building interrupted with a million jumpscare explosions set in a really cool-looking magical underwater world — props for that — and also what I assume to be Atlanta decorated to look like an Italian village.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the only other significant female character in this movie was an unnamed princess from the Fisherman Kingdom, where the people look like fish but apparently used to be humans. She straight-up watches her dad get murdered in front of her and then has to rule her kingdom, but literally gets one line. She’s pretty hot for a fish, so why wasn’t she making out with Aquaman? Also, why is Aquaman the king when it turns out that his mom, the queen, is actually alive? Aquaman is an idiot who is hot. His mom is smart and also hot and like, still alive.

There are other things that happen in this movie but literally none of it matters. Black Mantis, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is wasted, but if the end credit scene is to be believed, he is going to get a buddy cop movie with Randall-freaking-Park. I’m there for it. I bet it will be better than “Aquaman.”

While Jason Momoa may have beautiful hair and I can enjoy DC movies when they are directed by Patty Jenkins, this was too much. The story was all over the place and that octopus did not need to be playing that drum. The fish queen was robbed.

In the end, I wish this film was “Moana.”