Fire & Water #222 – Aquaman Movie Review

AQUAMAN The Movie! It's finally here! This episode listen to Rob and Shag's thoughts on the film, along with special guests Chris and Cindy Franklin!

Spoiler Section starts at 16:55! And stick around to the end for another special guest!

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Opening theme, "That Time is Now," by Michael Kohler. Closing music Roy Orbison.

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22 responses to “Fire & Water #222 – Aquaman Movie Review

  1. I think everyone is a little surprised by how much Rob seems to enjoy the film. He seemed almost resigned to the fact that this isn’t his Aquaman and that it probably wouldn’t effect him as much as it may have.

    I haven’t seen it yet. I may go and try to see it on Thursday but while I’m a bit tired of superhero films, the upbeat reception by my Fb friends lists has me thinking that I NEED to see this.

  2. It was a fun movie. I agree with Dhag’s statement that Arthur doesn’t do a whole lot of independent thinking and I would have preferred that be different. But it was still a very enjoyable film and a total love letter to the fans. My wife was so proud of herself that as soon as she saw the dinosaurs, she remembered that part from Parker’s run where Atlanna showed up. She’s not even a big comic reader but she caught that before I did.

  3. Great podcast episode! I listened to it while going grocery shopping which made it more enjoyable. I was very curious what would Rob would say about the movie. I am glad he liked it. I liked that Salty was there and Topo banging on the drums like in the silver age comic. My wife liked it but said the movie could have cut the first 1/4 out to make it shorter. I felt that Black Manta should have been it’s own movie. There was so many plot points in it. Also the quest for the trident was a little too long.

    Other than that I liked it! I am so glad it wasn’t a serious movie with dark shadows like so many other dc movies in the past. A certain director wasn’t tied to it which made it better. WAN did a great job with it and it was apparent how much work he put into it.

    My wife and I saw it in IMAX 3D which was incredible. The audience applauded as Jason appeared and Nicole appeared. It felt like we were at a theater. When Nicole Kidman appeared at the end the audience went crazy. Everyone liked that it was a happy ending. No parents died – the hero saves the day and in this negative time period- people really enjoyed it.

  4. Rob not seeing the connection to Peter David’s run “off hand”. Bravo.

    Your daughter sounds so grown up, Shagg. She’s a podcasting natural. You guys should do more together, great father-daughter chemistry. It’s hilarious.

    1. I especially loved it when the Precocious Princess called her dad “such a nerd”. Fun hearing you two together. I’m also liking the inspiration of bedazzled bedraggled Aquaman.

  5. I love you guys!
    I had the biggest grin on my face as I listened to this episode. I kept thinking, “Yes, I thought that, too!” or “Yes, exactly!” I really felt like I was there at a cafe or a bar hanging out listening to you discuss the movie. Totally awesome! Great job, as always….

    A few random thoughts….

    I agree with Rob about the star power of the actors playing Atlanna and Tom, but I think that was part of the point. We have THE QUEEN of ATLANTIS falling in love with some “nobody;” part of that was presented graphically by the actors playing the parts. On the other hand, I agree with Cindy about their chemistry. I liked and felt the chemistry between them in their early scenes; she is all REGAL but he is, literally, down to earth, but somehow they made it work. Being in a mixed marriage myself, maybe I’m more sensitive to this or maybe I’m seeing things that weren’t there. I liked it, though.

    I, like Cindy and Chris, really wanted Rob (and Shag) to like this movie. When I heard that they did like it, and that Luke Daab also liked it, a huge weight fell off my shoulders. By the time I saw it, on Dec 21, I *knew* that I would enjoy it because I trust my friends’ judgment.

    My most emotional moment came when Aquaman was talking to the Kraken about the trident. I think his whole “journey” was to understand just how important he was….to the surface world, and to Atlantis, and to himself. “I don’t want it…but I have to try to save the people I love!” choked me up. THAT is my Aquaman. I also loved the scene where he comes out of there wearing the orange & green (I, like, clapped, embarrassing my nephew), and when he rides a sea-horse, and when he saves Orm’s life. All of those were YAHOO! moments to me.

    I was surprised by the *heart* of this movie. Arthur clearly loves his father; their scenes together were awesome. Arthur clearly understands his responsibilities, even if he doesn’t really understand all that is expected of him. He begins to understand (the whole vengeance vs mercy arc was terrific!) and then becomes a super-hero. It was much more than punch punch punch.

    My least favorite part of the movie was the huge battle of the CGI creatures. Never a fan of that stuff, and this went on a bit too long for my tastes. It didn’t look “fake” necessarily, but it didn’t really look “real” either, ya know? However, I LOVED the art direction of the overall film. Mera’s gown made out of jelly fish….wow!!!

    LOVED the conversation with the Precocious Princess. Tell her we say hello!

  6. Great episode, everyone. One of the reasons I like the FW Network—as opposed to most others comics-related podcasts—is how you always seem to look for the positive, countering the nerd stereotype of the insufferable nit-picker. (I’m not going to look, but I assume there’s some neckbeard Aquaman fan somewhere online who’s refusing to see the movie simply because Momoa isn’t blond.) The joy you all took in experiencing this movie was palpable, and infectious (I left the theater thinking it was good, not great, but now you have me eager to rewatch it).

    One think I liked about the movie that you didn’t quite get at was how it effectively compensated for one of its greatest inherent limitations—the fact that, in my opinion, Jason Momoa isn’t a very good actor. But while he’s no Olivier, he has tons of star power, and of course he looks fantastic, so the script wisely kept talkiness to a minimum, while amping up the action scenes and visually arresting set pieces. In so many ways, this movie showed how a superhero movie should be done—don’t pretend it’s a deep psychological treatise, just give us an exciting story that looks great and doesn’t insult our intelligence. (BTW, yes, Momoa is hot stuff—I saw the movie with a hetero female friend who had never even heard of Aquaman before; she just wanted to see a shirtless Khal Drogo on the big screen.)

    And thanks for pointing out that the octopus drummer was Topo—somehow I didn’t make the connection, despite having complained on Twitter that I had wished the character showed up in the movie. I am beyond shame.

    Did anyone else think the midcredits scene would show Black Manta being recruited by Luthor and/or Deathstroke to join the Injustice League? Somehow I’m not convinced a Justice League sequel is off the the table.

  7. I’ve now heard the whole podcast, and loved the mid-credits cameo from the Precocious Princess; if she ever did do a podcast with her Dad, a good subject may be the original Amethyst series.

    Have you seen those pics of Momoa in the Baywatch Hawaii series? Bless.

    I do think the search for the trident went on a tad long, I expect they just wanted to Showcase Jason’s Quest…

    This isn’t Temuera Morrison’s first DC rodeo – remember him as Abin Sur in the fun-derrated GL film?

    I was amazed by how much most of the characters looked like their comic counterparts, with only the slimy Murk and horribly-haired Vulko letting the side down.

    If we do get a solo Mero outing, I want Vulko and the Widowhood in there, especially Ondine; it would also be a great place to bring in Aqualad and Tula (or better still, Lorena) to debut.

    In the early part of the film, they kept giving us a muscly biker-style twang when Arthur used his abilities, I’m so glad that was quickly dumped, it was far too cheesy.

    The bar scene with his Dad, I really wish we’d had some reference to Arthur not reacting to alcohol like regular folk, ie he gets merry, but is still in control… I mean, he seemed rat-arsed, yet was behind the wheel for the journey home. Never mind littering, this really isn’t a good example.

  8. Overall, I liked the movie but I did have one major problem with the story: I don’t like the idea of Aquaman being the killer of Manta’s father. At least with the Johns version, Arthur was just reacting to being attacked. Stuff happens and that’s fine.

    The movie version has Momoa basically murdering the guy by pinning him under a torpedo, saying some cold-hearted sh_t that would do the Punisher proud and walking away while Manta is pleading with him to save his Dad from drowning. No wonder why he hates Aquaman! I would want to kill him too. And yeah, I get it, they were murderous pirates but Arthur isn’t judge, jury and executioner. Save them and let the authorities figure it out.

    It seems to me they could’ve just as easily had Aquaman trying to save the Dad and failing or having him make a tough decision between saving the Dad or the Russian Sailors and deciding on saving the sailors to give Manta a motivation to hate Aquaman that would work just as well.

    I also thought that at times the dialog was a bit clunky but it didn’t ruin the movie for me either.

  9. I had a chance to see Aquaman on Boxing Day with my two brothers, and really enjoyed it. Listening to this episode, I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone in my opinion of the film.

    I’ll save time by saying that I agree with most everything that was said by Rob, Shag, Chris, and Cindy. My favorite aspect of the movie was how much stuff they managed to cram into it from the comic books. My biggest complaint was that the Arthur-Mera relationship felt a little forced to me. Though, in wholehearted agreement with Cindy, I felt that Arthur kissing Mera on the forehead at the end of the film was a perfect close to their romantic arch. That kiss demonstrated a genuine affection between the two characters, which I really appreciated.

    Finally, I do have plans to take my wife and daughter to see Aquaman. I warned my daughter about the scene with the Trench, and asked her if she still wanted to see it. Her reply (complete with eye-roll) was, “Daddy, that’s what eyelids are for.”

  10. Another great, and momentous episode, and a victory lap for the Network in general (a second one, if you count the Fathom Events Superman thing, which I do).

    I saw the movie, and enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as everyone else seems to have. It might not even be the movie’s fault, though, as I suspect I am just a bit tired of certain tropes that are apparently inseparable from modern day superhero movies.

    For one, the whole “one true king” thing, present here, in Black Panther, etc: is biological determinism really in line with the message that superhero stories should be sending? It just seems particularly jarring to me, and that line delivered by Nicole Kidman actually made me groan when he stepped through the waterfall.

    For two: trial by combat. Okay, I know that superheroes solve all of their problems with violence, but should supposedly “super advanced” cultures sill base all of their major decisions (and/or choices of leadership) on which jerk wins a fist fight? Again, present here and like three times in “Black Panther.”

    That reminds me: everyone seems to want to call this movie “Wet Thor.” Shouldn’t it have been called “Wet Panther.” For that matter, should I be called “Wet Blanket?”

    All that being grumpily said, I did enjoy the movie overall. Atlanna just about stole the show for me, and you can count me among those who totally bought her relationship with Arthur’s Dad. I also really felt the connection between Aquaman and his dad, and I found almost everyone’s performances to be convincing and engaging, even Black Manta’s.

    Ocean Master, though, I did not like, care about, or see much…”depth” in at all, save for that one moment where he sees his Mom again. Until then, he came off as a bog standard “evil version of the good guy” superhero movie villain. There was real potential to make him more sympathetic using his really good points about what lousy polluters we surface folk are, but that just wasn’t developed.

    I also found the CG to be so fake-looking as to be distracting in way too many spots. That last shot of Aquaman made more than a few people laugh in my theater.

    Anyway, those are my puffed up blowfish-like thoughts. The movie was fun, but I also left kind of disappointed. I give it 7.5 seashells out of 10.

  11. Only saw the movie a few days ago, so I didn’t want to listen to your shows about it before that; really enjoyed the show, as usual, but esp. the mid-credits segment.
    Anyway, I liked it more than I thought I would, but not as much as quite a few others here.
    First, I have to say that I agree with everyone who liked Mera in this movie; to me she pretty much stole the show every time she was onscreen.
    Also, I didn’t find anything particularly inauthentic about the Altanna/Tom Curry romance, and agree with Russell Burbage above. I also liked that it book-ended the movie. In fact, I agree with Cindi about many of the favorite scenes she mentioned, i.e., those little bits – like Arthur and his dad touching foreheads after Mera saves the latter – really nice.

    However, I tend to agree with the criticism that the movie was too long, although I’m surprised that several commenters here say they found the quest for the trident as taking too long. To me, that was the heart of the movie, and it was the reason Aquaman and Mera did so many cool things. Personally, I thought that entire final undersea battle could have been removed and the movie wouldn’t have lost a thing. I think the way that should have played out is with Aquaman busting out from the seafloor on the Julie Andrews Leviathan’s back holding the trident *before* the battle even started, and everyone (except Orm, naturally) dropping their weapons immediately – because the real king showed up. It would have avoided all of that needless bloodshed and yet another lengthy CGI battle sequence.

  12. One of the reasons the trench scene worked out for me was that you see these millions of vicious creatures that operate on nothing but instinct and if you’re just a couple of regular people…’re dead! But after Arthur gets the Trident and is leading them in the battle…It shows how much power he has now that he can control these Trench beasts to the point that he can leave the final battle behind and have his rematch with Orm and not worry about the teachers eating everything and everyone who’s not paying attention.

  13. I can’t believe I am FINALLY getting around to listen to this. I’ve been dealing with audio projects at work a lot lately, so having my ears available to listen to podcasts has been a challenge. This was a great episode. I’m still enamored with the movie and think I might still have a chance to see it in the theaters a third time before it heads out onto Blu Ray. I really like what Rob said about wanting a dialed down sequel. This movie had EVERYTHING! And I think the next one would benefit from taking a few breaths. Have you given any thought to what new characters you’d like to see in the sequel? In relying so heavily on New 52 content, I’d love to see Jeff Parker’s Chimera adapted. He’s creepy! He’d be a good Chin tie-in, too. Clearly we’ll be seeing Black Manta again. This was a fun listen! I’m sorry I’ve been absent in the feedback for so long. I’ve missed this!!

  14. I wanted to add… I’m totally on board with Rob on a couple more things… I LOVED that scene with Mera entertaining the child in Italy. It showed us her character underneath the royal exterior and was a really great pause in the movie. Also… that image of Arthur and Mera descending down into blackness surrounded by the trench is one of the most incredible movie images I’ve seen in a long time. It was so haunting and cool. I can see why Cindy had nightmares. It felt like a nightmare. Okay, bye for reals.

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