I’m trying to catch up on some movies that I didn’t get around to seeing because of the crazy end of semester/time traveling over the holidays. On New Year’s Day, I saw Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (which is as good as everyone says); today I saw Aquaman (which was much more enjoyable than I anticipated).
Something that I liked about both movies was that both of them trusted their audience to navigate that chaos of the story. Granted, Spider-Verse had more of that because multiple dimensions were involved (which is nothing new to comic fans, really). But even Aquaman had something of a pleasantly twisty story that went places. Spider-Verse had the benefit of at least six previous Spider-Man movies to build off of. Aquaman had a movie and a scene (Justice League and a moment in Batman v Superman), neither of which gave much information about the world of Atlantis. And so you get a unified backstory that splits into seven kingdoms. You get some dazzling displays and some interesting creatures. You get some flashbacks. (You get a place that seemed a lot like Skartaris, which would be cool to see fleshed out.) And in the end, it all clicks together pretty well. And all without the benefit of multiple replays of the destruction of Krypton or the death of the Waynes outside the theater.
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A couple of more quick comments about Aquaman. First, I’m pleasantly surprised how enjoyable the movie was. Sure, it’s not the Arthur Curry from the comics, but it’s a nice take on a character that blends in some of the best stuff from the source material. I’m glad the movie is a success. It definitely embraced an approach sorely missing from Man of Steel (which I mostly enjoyed) and Batman v Superman (which I can appreciate). There was only one obvious nod to Justice League, which was nice, too. And the mid-credits scene was tied directly to two points in the main narrative, which was a nice change of pace from mid-credits-scene-as-world-building. The movie was beautifully shot. Sure there were some awkward moments and scenes, but then you get things like the Trench scene and the conversation at Atlan’s trident . . . good stuff. I even enjoyed the search for said trident. The movie made good use of its long run-time. It did have a couple of emotionally awkward moments, particularly at the beginning and the end. It was good seeing Mera hold her own, too.
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Only a couple of more weeks to go before Glass, which I’ve been waiting a good while for. It could be a great movie year, actually. Lots of genre stuff, the kind of stuff that knows what quality looks like and that is built off of good franchise work. The big question mark will probably be Shazam! But lots of Marvel goodness before that one.
(image from denofgeek.com)