I Watched “Aquaman” For Some Reason!

Availability is everything. 

My grandfather lived his entire life in rural Illinois. However, in his later years (around the 2000’s), he once mentioned how his favorite basketball team was the Los Angeles Lakers. 

This seemed sacrilegious to me.  He liked watching sports, sure, but I thought he favored local teams. The Bears, the Cardinals (it was one of those houses), the Bulls, University of Illinois… why The Lakers?

I asked this of my mom, to which she said, “Because they’re the one that’s on TV the most.”

This relates, I swear, to me watching “Aquaman.” I currently have HBO Max, it’s on there. And here we are. Here are some random thoughts about it.

1. It’s not… baaaaaaaad. Right? It’s not bad. It’s not especially great either. It’s got a little style to it, as far as recent superhero movies go. I like the underwater stadiums and buildings and monsters and stuff. I thought Black Manta’s suit and powers were cool. I even kinda liked the way they got the hair to look during the underwater scenes. But it’s also really, really, really, really, REALLY heavy on exposition. I’m not gonna look it up, but I swear one of Willem Dafoe’s lines went something like, “Arthur, for centuries our people have been divided into seven kingdoms. Only when one person does a thing that hasn’t ever happened can something else happen, but it can only happen at a certain time, and then when it does, only a certain…” you get the idea. 

2. Mamoa’s Good. I will never tire of bagging on Zach Snyder. As a filmmaker, I think he’s annoying, favoring “style” over basic storytelling. I also think, when it comes to these DC movies, that he has generally cast in a lame way. Either that or he cannot get performances out of his actors. 50/50. This is all to say that I think, despite all evidence one might think is there, Jason Mamoa is pretty good in the part. He’s not asked to do too much more than be himself… but what’s wrong with that? Also, given the fact that Aquaman has spent the last 30 years as a joke of a character, casting someone like him, with his own personality, was a good call. I like that he’s a dude. I’d prefer it to someone playing it straight, or overly dramatic. The kind of looks like an old time pirate, his beard and hair look good, and he looks good when wet. Which he is. A lot. 

And shirtless. It’s like half the movie. 

I don’t know if I’d say he’s the best casting choice* for the DC movie leads (a strong argument can be made for Zachary Levi in “Shazam!”), but it’s a close race. 

2.a. Mo’ Momoa. I can’t tell if his part is more WWE or NFL. It’s definitely a Dude Sport

3. Weird “Watchmen.” I found it kind of funny how Snyder’s Nightowl teamed up with HBO-series’ Dr. Manhattan to play two bad guys. 

4. The Second Act of Temuera Morrison. He’s somehow still getting out of the shadow of “Star Wars,” and that’s despite the fact that the Boba Felt show is coming out. It’s also funny that his two biggest recent movies have been about water controlling beings — this one and “Moana.”

5. Is it the Kraken? They pronounce it differently. Is it different? I cannot tell. They say it like “kah-RAY-ken.” They also acknowledge that the founder of Atlantis is named “Atlanta,” which is odd to hear. “We have to find Atlanta.” Dude, it’s right there, above Florida. (Or “fluh-RAY-daaa”). 

What the hell does this have to do with writing, books, or writing books? Very little, I suppose. But one lesson could be: just because something is established and mocked for years doesn’t mean you cannot try something new with it. Even when “something new” means hiring a hot guy to play the part. It’s something.

*Some rankings of the major DC movie heroes/villains

1. Zachary Levi as Captain Marvel in “Shazam.”

2. Jason Mamoa as Aquaman.

3. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I only wish she wouldn’t do “the voice.” What about HQ says she has to have that voice? Just do you, girl!

4. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. This is mostly based on her brief appearance in “BvS: DOJ” and her first solo movie. I wouldn’t say Gadot is a tremendous actor, but in the right hands, she makes a pretty great Diana. In the wrong hands… less so.

5. Ben Affleck as Batman. I guess he has it in him, but in a way, wouldn’t it have been smarter to cast an actor with less baggage? 

6. Henry Cavill as Superman. Similar to Gadot, in the right hands, he can be something…

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