Aquaman

Aquaman is a movie that has to be experienced – because you sure can’t sit and enjoy it like a normal human being. Besides, it doesn’t even matter what you think about the thing. It’s already made big bucks all over the world. America’s just pocket change at this point. Hopefully, that’s because all the other nations got a dubbed version that really improved on what has to be one of the most absurd comic book movies of all time.

The script for Aquaman is painfully self-aware and constantly self-mocking, but the latest installment in the DC Universe still has all kinds of idiotic plot holes and flaws. The action is just a series of sudden blasts coming from off-screen, while you’re wondering what life is like for those jellyfish who have to spend their existences serving as Princess Mera’s fanciest dress. Those creatures will sure have something to complain about to Arthur Curry if the aspiring superhero ever fulfills his psychic bond with all the oceans’ creatures and conquers the evil Ocean Master to become the rightful King of Atlantis.

He will, of course. There are no spoilers in this DC movie. Jason Momoa just smirks his way to an obvious conclusion. The only surprises are things like Willem Dafoe, who once helped launch the Marvel Universe, giving a painfully awkward performance while Dolph Lundgren comes across like a total pro. There’s also one good horror sequence worthy of director James Wan. By then, however, you’ve already suffered through a series of moronic set pieces that show Aquaman is mostly influenced by forgettable ’80s cable standbys like The Goonies and Road House.

At least some of that ’80s dreck showed some craftsmanship. Aquaman is just a lazy mess. The script uses animal reaction shots for quick laughs, and some of the CGI is unforgivably chintzy. Dafoe – when worried about Aquaman’s odds in a duel – protests, “This isn’t a contest, it’s an execution!” right after the hero gets the upper hand. The climatic final battle simply ignores a vital plot point, and one big reveal goes on long after the audience has figured out what’s happening. Wonder Woman was kind of overhyped, but Aquaman can’t even begin to match the spectacle of Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern.

[PG-13]