Aquaman Nudges the Redemption Meter


I’ll be honest about this. I nearly didn’t see Aquaman because when I walked out of Justice League I all but told myself I was done with DC movies. Although I loved Wonder Women, Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman, and the Nolan Batman trilogy, DC movies for the most part have been a crap show. I’ve given DC pass, after pass because I love their characters as much as I love Marvel’s. But Justice League was such a stinker that I told myself they just didn’t get “it”; that DC Entertainment was all but irredeemable.

I realize I just said I loved several of their most recent movies, but Marvel laid out a road map for DC. And did everything but tie in up neatly in gift wrapping for them. What did DC Entertainment do instead? Skipped the foundational movies and went straight for the “Avengers” arc. Did I mention just what a steaming pile Justice League was?

About that irredeemability… Well I was wrong. While Aquaman’s story has holes, some campy to corny dialogue, and the wrong leading actor, it went a long way to redeeming hope in me that DC can still rescue their sinking ship. If you were to judge the film by its visual effects alone, you’d probably give it a solid 10. in short, they were stunning. Hell, *I* want to live in Atlantis now. But overall I give the film a 7.5/10 with marks down for Momoa’s acting, those pesky plot holes I mentioned, and a few rather obvious hanging questions that will leave many viewers scratching their heads as they walk out.

Also curious was the divided sympathies the movie engenders. You’re not usually supposed to feel sympathetic for the antagonist in a story, but damned if you don’t end up having some feels for the guy by the end. He may be a bit slimy around the edges, but all-in-all, his motivations are arguable. Which is interesting because naturally you’re supposed to be sympathetic to the protagonist — in this case, Arthur Curry (AKA Aquaman). It’s weird where you have a movie of this type where both sides are somewhat sympathetic, though perhaps the rationale for it is paid out in the finale scene. Could there be foreshadowing there, perhaps? There was certainly foreshadowing in the mid-credit scene regarding the other antagonist in the movie (cough Black Manta cough). Stick around for that!

If I were pressed on the matter, I’d choose the fight choreography as a second truly high point in the movie. Sans the first fight scene in the opening minutes, which portrayed Aquaman as a lumbering brawler. And not a very good one, at that. From then on, however, the fight choreography is both visually appealing and action packed. I most especially liked the scenes between Orm and Arthur, though perhaps the most important fights were with Black Manta. Again, the mid credit scene foreshadows much that could come to pass. And if the fight scenes between Manta and Aquaman here are the bar by which to judge, I can’t wait to see what may come next.

If you’re going into Aquaman expecting more than an entertaining action movie, with stunning visuals I’m afraid you may come away disappointed. But see this movie. Go and see it. If you love superhero films, don’t wait for the DVD. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it. While Momoa’s acting is a bit flat — he lacks emotion and has but one shtick — Amber Heard carries him through many of the scenes that are must wins. I would have preferred a leading actor more capable of a dynamic range of emotion, but I suppose there’s the eye candy perspective to consider.

The Last Kingdom is one of those shows you should be watching

Season 3 released on Netflix 23 Nov 2018

One of my favorite shows over the last couple years has been The Last Kingdom (Twitter, Official site), originally a BBC production, shown here in the USA first under BBC America, then picked up by Netflix in Season 2.  If rumors are to be believed, the show will continue as a Netflix production through season 5.  Season 3 premiered this last weekend, and although I’m only half way through it, I’m willing to say I believe it’s the best season of the show yet.  Each episode leaves me virtually leaping off the couch in shock at its cliff hanger.  It’s the rare show that instills this much excitement in me.  And before anyone asks, I can’t simply binge the remaining episodes as I’m watching it with my wife during evening family time.  In as much as I would love to secretly watch the rest of the season, I must wait and experience it episode by episode with her.

I suspect many of you would enjoy the Last Kingdom as well, and I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t done so already.  The setting is Saxon “England” around the year 900 AD, portraying the life of a young Saxon Lord’s son Uthred (original named Osbert, but renamed Uhtred upon the death of his older brother) who survives a Dane attack that kills his Father. Uthred is taken prisoner and is raised as a Dane, instead of being killed.  Headstrong, and more than a bit rebellious, Uhtred thrives within the Dane community.  But his life takes another turn many years later as old rivalries amongst the Danes results in Uhtred once again being thrust amongst the Saxons, where he’s neither immediately trusted, nor wanted.  Uhtred is tested but eventually establishes himself as a strong supporter of King Alfred of Wessex, setting the stage for most of the rest of the series.

The show features strong character development of Uhtred and a handful of other supporting characters. Though most of it centers on Uhtred and King Alfred.  Uhtred is conflicted in emotion and loyalty, never quite fitting completely in either world leading to many strongly dramatic situations peppered throughout theshow.  But don’t let me leave you with an impression that the show is a lifetime channel wonder.  There’s plenty of gritty action too.  There’s Vikings and Saxons, after all.  Fighting is what they do, and we’re treated to some beautiful set-piece scenes with hundreds of warriors on either side swinging large pieces of steel and wood at one another.

I would love to say more, but for those of you who haven’t watched it yet, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.  I give the show a strong 4 out of 5.  Would love to hear your thoughts!