CineMaierson: “Aquaman” Review


Courtesy Photo

“Aquaman” fails to redeem DCEU, burdened by predictable dialogue and bloated scenes.

Eli Maierson, Senior Assignments Editor

After suffering through the bloated, stale Justice League late last year, I vowed never to watch another DCEU film again. I’m sad to report, dear readers, that my morbid curiosity got the best of me with Aquaman.

Let me start with the pros, as few and far between as they were. Generally speaking, the action sequences were fairly fun and exciting; the unnerving and overpowering scene with The Trench was a major highlight. I really appreciate how brave deviation from the same, stormtrooper-esque Atlantean soldiers made for a haunting scene. I wish, however, that the film had explored more underwater creatures.

I guess I also liked that one shot where the octopus was playing the drum.

Unfortunately, the DCEU failed to redeem itself in any significant way. Aquaman commits all seven deadly sins of superhero movies.

Too much Slo-Mo

This is a common flaw in most DCEU films; they tend to favor quick images over well-constructed, clever sequences. The overuse of slo-mo augments this point, as practically none of it services the story or even the action.

Predictable Dialogue

Have you ever heard a line like “You’re worthy”? How about expositional dialogue where a character talks about how their parents met? What about “Legend has it,” “Forget everything you think you know,” or some other variation? There’s no technical movie term at play here: this is called bad writing.

Dialogue is the cornerstone of filmmaking and character building, and this movie lacks a strong foundation. The screenwriters of Aquaman are Hollywood professionals, so why am I able to predict every other line?

Hero not acting heroic

There’s about six seconds in this movie where Aquaman saves civilians. Most of the time, he’s leaving people to drown, killing his own people or waging wars without a care in the world. Aquaman doesn’t feel like the lionhearted superhuman he should; he’s mostly a blunt instrument with powers he doesn’t deserve.

Final battle is a CGI-filled, oversaturated, anticlimactic mess

‘Nuff said.

Tries too hard to be funny

I’m sorry, but I just don’t think Jason Momoa running around screaming “BADASS” is that entertaining. DC really tried their hand at making a funny, relatable hero who subverts his powers with comedy. Unfortunately, Aquaman isn’t charming enough to be mistaken for Tom Holland in Spider-Man: Homecoming, nor is his performance hilarious or absurd enough to be Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok. Momoa ends up looking like a wannabe Marvel character, but without the likability or strong script.


Entire scenes of this film should have been left on the cutting room floor. The movie mostly plays as a political drama in a society we barely understand or care about. Yes, most superhero movies are drawn out for about 15 minutes longer than necessary, but nearly 45 minutes of this film felt extraneous (the dinosaur world where Aquaman finds the trident, all the flashbacks to Aquaman as a child, etc.).

Hero isn’t the most interesting character in their own story

Even in great movies (Black Panther), this can be a regular occurrence. Mera (Amber Heard) had massive potential. As an Atlantean princess equipped with water manipulation powers who betrays her own father, Mera could have carried this movie by herself. Instead, she’s held back by weak writing, is little more than an exposition machine and falls in love with the least intelligent character in the movie. What a waste.

I wanted to keep the “seven deadly sins” joke intact, but this movie has well over seven flaws. The classic “multiple-villains-because-neither-are-interesting” mechanic is at play here, as are the ageless “narration-to-open-and-close-the-film” and “over-exposition” trends.

I understand that these critiques apply to most superhero movies, but in the face of some great films these last few years that show some evolution in the genre (Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, especially Logan), the faults in Aquaman feel particularly egregious. Do yourself a favor and watch any of those films instead of this one.