Let’s be fair, “Aquaman” is a decent film. Better than most of the films Warner Bros and DC Comics have put out there. With the exception of “Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman” is the second DC Comics movie to have a “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That being said, can we as audience members give the film a pass for being marginally better than its predecessors? “Man of Steel” got a 56 percent and it’s both the first film the extended universe and the third best movie in the franchise so far. The lowest ranked are “Suicide Squad” and “Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice”; Both tied at 27 percent.
While Rotten Tomatoes isn’t the arbiter of what determines a good movie, the disconnect between the critics who get aggregated on the site and the fans have gotten larger. To the point that the general populace has paid 1 billion dollars at the box office to see “Aquaman” that is arguably the same or worse than “Justice League.” A film most critics agree is a mess. Fans, however, disagree strongly.
By now everyone has talked about “Aquaman” passing the 1 billion dollars at the box office. This puts it up there with films like “Return of the King,” “Titanic” and another one of DC comic’s intellectual property, “The Dark Knight.” This sends the wrong message to the creative team that we want more films like “Aquaman.” Of course, the golden standard is Marvel Studios and their over ten years of movie continuity. We shouldn’t be passive in what we watch. That leads to all movies having a perfect 10 out of 10, and if that’s the case, everything might as well be a 1.
Why harp on “Aquaman?” The movie is paced and structured poorly. It has an opening that’s laugh-out-loud funny and not in a good way. Openings are supposed to be cool and hook you. The introduction to the character ‘Black Manta’ is arguably worse than Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor in “Dawn of Justice.” Everyone who says you need to turn off your brain to watch the film, or it’s supposed to be like a Saturday morning cartoon, are forgetting big chunks of the movie where the entire world is about to go to war with Atlantis.
The grandiose proclamation and over the top acting of the character Ocean Master is just the tip of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. The scenes where you’re meant to have the most fun are worst paced. The entire first fight scene between Ocean Master and Aquaman did nothing to advance the story. It was like a car kicking up dust, but not going anywhere. It looks cool but doesn’t achieve anything.
How does a marginally better film than “Justice League” get a pass from fans and critics to earn a billion dollars at the box office? It boggles the mind that the second highest grossing film at the box office in the DC Extended Universe is “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” A film with arguably our best portrayal of Bruce Wayne ever and an action scene with Batman that made the fighting at the end of “The Dark Knight Rises” look like a slap fight. The film is bad, but it and the majority of the DCEU begs the question: are fans driving sales of the franchise because they’re good or because they want them to succeed?