REVIEW: Beautiful cinematography in ‘Aquaman’ compensates for lacking story

Sharada Vishwanath, Assistant Online Editor

Whether you’re a Marvel or DC fan, if you’re willing to overlook the cheesy dialogue, prolonged plots, and a little eye strain, “Aquaman” is worth the watch, at the very least for its beautiful cinematography.

The movie features Jason Momoa as Aquaman, a half human half Atlantean with the power to control water. He is the Son of Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), queen of the underwater world of Atlantis, and a lighthouse keeper (Thomas Curry).

Aquaman has a birth right to be king of Atlantis, but throughout the film he questions whether or not he is right for the title. Through his quest to defeat his step brother King Orm, Aquaman works alongside Mera (Amber Heard), a warrior princess, to reclaim his spot on the throne and unite the worlds of surface and ocean.

Directed by James Wan, “Aquaman” remained at number one in the box office for three weeks. According to Forbes, it has grossed nearly one billion total so far, more than the entirety of the “Justice League” series put together.

Despite its overwhelming success, it only received a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. Most of the criticism is directly pointed at the script, which is anything but elegant. The dialogue is very cliche and painfully predictable, so much so that you can’t help but squirm in your seat from the cheesiness. Not only is the script corny, but it’s also repetitive and dry, moving at a slow enough pace to make the two hours and 23 minute long film feel unbearably longer than it actually is.

Although I thought the film’s soundtrack was not a strong point and relied mostly on what seemed like obnoxious sound effects, the film made up for subpar audio through its outstanding cinematography. Magical scenes of the underwater world portray Atlantis just as stunningly as anything you could have imagined. Credit must be given to Don Burgess, the cinematographer who created an enchanting atmosphere with fresh angles and lighting that almost makes up for the lacking script.

Additionally, the film attempts to sprinkle in humor, some of which is refreshing, but other jokes are awkward and misplaced, throwing off the seriousness of several moments.

Still, contrasting the beautiful underwater paradise, while watching this movie I found myself having to look away every five minutes. It seemed as if anytime a character opened their mouth, something would explode. During the excessive fight scenes, the perspectives were switching too quickly to comprehend the plot. It comes down to personal preference, but I felt as though the action scenes had too much color, too much sound, and moved too fast between standpoints, creating a dizzy, vulgarly loud effect.

The acting, for the most part, is sufficient. Momoa lives up to his character well by bringing out a power that is truly in Aquaman’s essence. He manages to perfectly embody a naive, yet witty Aquaman; badass but still sweet. Heard’s acting is also commendable as she embraces the warrior woman who gets the chance for an equal amount of heroism, not outshined by the male lead: a positive for the film.

A weaker point in the film is its half-hearted attempts to aim at environmental realities, such as ocean hunting and pollution. The film fails to ever reach a consensus or really highlight them significantly enough to spread a real message to viewers. Instead, they are left as conclusion-less fragments that could have been a great plus for the film.

“Aquaman” is entertaining and thrilling enough to satisfy basic expectations for DC fans, though it contains overstated and excessively flashy plot points. While it isn’t bad enough to be classified as deplorable, it certainly does not live up to other DC film classics such as “Batman” or “Superman.” If you are looking for something light and fun, free from high expectations, this movie might be for you, but I can think of better ways to spend two and a half hours.