Lost adrift: 'Aquaman' abides the superhero status quo

    (L-R) JASON MOMOA as Aquaman and AMBER HEARD as Mera in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "AQUAMAN," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

    2.5 out of 5 Stars
    James Wan
    Writers: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall, Geoff Johns, James Wan, Mort Weisinger (character), Paul Norris (character)
    Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe
    Genre: Action, Fantasy
    Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language

    SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Synopsis: Arthur Curry, the son of a mortal lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean princess, must decide to ascend and take his place as the king of Atlantis and save humanity or sit aside as mankind and the underwater nations go to war.

    Review: My favorite moments in “Aquaman” were those that took the neon glow of “Blade Runner” and its heavy-synth-laden score and placed it at the bottom of the sea. The way the light reflects off the glass of Mera’s underwater craft. It’s a beautiful slice of cinema squeezed into a film filled with characters prone to giving grandstand speeches.

    So many speeches, so little to say.

    The origin of Aquaman is a familiar story torn from the pages of Greek tragedy as Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), a princess of Atlantis, washes ashore with a vicious wound. There she is rescued by the smitten lighthouse keeper Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison), a human. Love follows, a child is born, Atlanna is forced to return to Atlantis and the child, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), is forced to grow up without a mother. Every morning Tom goes to the end of his dock waiting for Atlanna, who promised to return, to rise from the ocean with the sun.

    In the absence of his mother, Arthur is trained in the Atlantean ways by her advisor Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe). Arthur becomes a working-class hero, a living folk legend that turns up at the local bar to drink himself under the table. As much as he’d like to outrun responsibility, Mera (Amber Heard), a Atlantean princess, pleads with him to take up his claim to the throne.

    Enter the campy theatrics of King Orm (Patrtick Wilson), an Atlantean filled with bloodlust and a desire to expand the reach of his empire.

    There is plenty there to fill a film, but the story also includes the origin story of Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateem II) shoehorned in. I’m not opposed to planning ahead, but this aspect of the story is never as interesting as the main plot and acts as more of a distraction and a speedbump. It’s also incredibly anticlimactic. You needn’t cut Manta entirely, but giving him 30 minutes in a film that stretches past the two-hour mark feels like a misuse of time.

    In fact, my biggest complaint about “Aquaman” is that far too much of it feels unnecessary. It also feels disconnected from the rest of the established DC Cinematic Universe. When the world is in danger, why do all the other superheroes seem to disappear?

    “Aquaman” will probably entertain most audiences, but anyone looking for anything beyond a bloated and by-the-numbers origin story is going to leave disappointed.

    With “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” I thought that DC was making some bold choices. You could argue that they were the wrong decisions, but at least they were willing to be bold. “Aquaman” should feel different, but it’s just more of the same.

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