AQUAMAN FIRMLY HAS ITS TRIDENT IN ITS CHEEK

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I really don’t want to lead you the garden path, Aquaman has a lot of flaws. Amber Heard’s acting for one. Related imageBut also the fact that if it is making a point in its narrative then the ending fails to capitalise on it. Also that the characterisation is weak and inconsistent, I couldn’t tell you who Arthur Curry really is at this point because in any given scene he is whatever the scene requires him to feel. And yet…..and yet God help me I had fun watching this movie. Part of the fun was how bad it was like when a cover a Toto’s Africa played, but part of it was how silly it was and how much it knew that when signifying Italy and burgeoning love they the soundtrack played Roy Orbinson’s Mystery Girl. If Adam McKay does smart dumb comedy then maybe director James Wan is on his way to making smart dumb blockbusters and that’s a good thing.

The plot picks up a little after Justice League, Aquaman goes around the ocean saving the day and beating bad guys up, sculling a beer with his old man and mostly keeping to himself. Then destiny calls and well mostly scenes of exposition interrupted by sudden explosions follows. Thank God they cast big names because I can’t remember the names of the characters just that they were played Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Patrick Wilson and Jack the Muss.

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Aquaman is a film that goes to a lot of effort in its world building but is less about what and why something happens and more about how. Plate work ensues, we go to Italy, Africa and Maine and I’m not even sure if they even went to a water tank set let alone left the studio to shoot on location there’s so much green screen on display. Yet the film looks gorgeous, if its a cartoon it is a pretty and inventive one unafraid to have big name actors astride sea horses and sharks.

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Speaking of the cast Dafoe and Lundgren play as you expect, Lundgren actually plays it so straight and earnest it makes the unique kind of straightforward. Wilson, an actor I greatly admire proves game and doesn’t look awkward as his costumes grow more ridiculous but a film like this really deserves a villain who doesn’t bring earnestness but  theatrics. In fact Wilson, who looks like the comic book Arthur Curry and was cast as the villain partly because of this, would have made a good Curry it has to be said. Amber Heard fits into her costume snugly and tries hard, she is stuck in another female sidekick role where she cares more deeply about the plight of the story than the hero and has to prod him into fulfilling his destiny. A thankless role I grant you but Heard fails to bring any nuance and little joy to the role and the chemistry between her and Jason Momoa is non-existent.

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Momoa a man who has the body that leaves many swooning and the smarts to have a sense of humour about his image. The character as written is all over the shop but Momoa clearly has a passion for what he is doing. Its exciting to have an actor of islander heritage cast as an aquatic superhero but beyond that, his attitude, comic sensibilities and physique suit the role too. He also gets to show vulnerability here as a man born of two worlds who feels he belongs to neither and mourns a mother he barely knew. Which brings us to Nicole Kidman who may just be the best thing about the movie, she plays it straight too no matter how weird her costume and she brings real pathos to her role as a Queen, warrior, wife and mother. When they say great actors are slumming it in blockbusters they don’t always have reason to mention how the actor can elevate the production, Kidman here does.

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As for the production itself, the movie moves fast but is too long. Cut a villain here, an action scene there, slow it down and get to the guts of why these people are doing what they’re doing and you might have a great movie. A final epic end battle has really nothing to do with anybody we care about until late in the game and just feels like it is there because you got to go big and Hollywood-you really don’t. Yet the movie zips along and there’s a few jokes here and there and it certainly doesn’t tax your brain as it proves a feast for your eyes. Good looking people, cool looking worlds, big explosions and lasers, crab monsters and mystic tridents. It never bores and that’s a crime too many blockbusters have been guilty of lately. In fact when people square off and thump their trident down and you hear a big brass reverberating sound you can’t help but smile. We’re not the only ones having fun with this.

-Lloyd Marken

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TOP 5 BEST THINGS ABOUT THE ROCKY MOVIES AVAILABLE AT HEAVY

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This is my fifth Top 5 for Heavy and my seventh Countdown. With the release of new season of Game of Thrones last year I went all out with a Top 10 Countdown where each piece averaged over 500 words and was published separately counting down to the telecast of the first episode. It was a lot of work that I was happy to do but can’t maintain as a side gig with all the other work I do. A Top 5 of Tom Hank’s best films followed which was a lot shorter and I decided doing something akin to that format was sustainable. It also appeared to be really popular. When it came time to do another Top 5 on Stranger Things Season 2 I found there was too much to choose from and decided to do a Top 10 instead. Top 5s have continued though with Thor: Ragnarok, Star Trek: DiscoveryBlade Runner 2049 and now A Top 5 of the Best Things about the Rocky film series which you can find here https://heavymag.com.au/top-5-best-things-about-the-rocky-movies/

In the summer of 1993 heading out of primary school into high school I got out from my local video store what was at that time all five Rocky films and I fell in love. Even as a child I knew number one was the best and it has stayed with my throughout the years. The great regret of my life possibly is that I did not pursue boxing as a sport in my youth. Rocky is not really about boxing though, as the great film critic Roger Ebert once wrote “It’s about heroism and realizing your potential, about taking your best shot and sticking by your girl. It sounds not only cliche but corny-and yet it’s not, not a bit, because it really does work on those levels. It involves us emotionally, it makes us commit ourselves.” The sequels continued the story with diminishing returns until Rocky Balboa salvaged some dignity and went out on a good note. Then came Creed by Ryan Coogler which was even better. Now there is Creed II and I hope it’s good but also that this closes the door on this franchise. We shall see.

It’s been a while since I’ve published with Heavy magazine due to other commitments and time constraints but it is always a pleasure and I hope you enjoy. Feel free to comment on the site of what would be your picks. I look forward to doing a few more in the near future.

Heavy is an independent magazine and website that is all about the music and specifically heavy music and supporting the Australian music scene in general. Fortunately for me they do cover film as well and I have been fortunate to have a few things published there.

-Lloyd Marken