DAZ­ZLING UN­DER­WA­TER AD­VEN­TURE

Cebu Daily News - - LIFE! - by Jeff Ruf­folo AS­SIS­TANT EDI­TOR Niza G. Mar­iñas EDI­TOR Mimi M. Li­jauco DE­SIGNER Virge­lio F. Bal­buena Jr.

PLEASE for­give me for I have sinned.

I mean that with all love and af­fec­tion as I must most sin­cerely re­pent of my ed­i­to­rial trans­gres­sions.

For you see, I ac­tu­ally liked a DC Comics movie. I know, I know, this is akin to heresy but I thor­oughly en­joyed this film adap­ta­tion of “Aqua­man” star­ring Ja­son Mo­moa in the ti­tle role and di­rected by James Wan (“The Con­jur­ing”) which tells the finny tale

(par­don the un­der­sea pun) of young Arthur Curry and his “com­ing of age” as the King of At­lantis.

Ac­tu­ally, I’m not 100 per­cent happy with this movie as with the very well done “Won­der

Woman.”

“Aqua­man” should re­ally have come out prior to the dread­ful “Jus­tice League” su­per­hero mash-up, like “Won­der Woman” both were re­leased in 2017, be­cause the back­story of this wa­ter breath­ing quasi-hu­man is so very in­ter­est­ing and would have been eas­ily segue into the su­per­hero team-up story line much bet­ter if it had come out first and THEN “Jus­tice League.”

Just say­ing.

As you might i mag­ine, “Aqua­man” is an ori­gin story which be­gins with the mat­ing of a beau­ti­ful un­der­sea queen (Ni­cole Kid­man) and a light­house keeper/com­moner, Thomas Curry (Te­muera Mor­ri­son) who dis­cov­ers the damsel ma­rooned on the sandy shores near his light­house. He brings her in­side, nurses her back to health and they in­stantly bond, pro­duc­ing a hy­brid child... a son who is des­tined to be the ruler of the seven seas.

We see the young Arthur first at age nine (Kaan Gul­dur) who trav­els on a class out­ing to a lo­cal aquar­ium and just like that, learns to com­mu­ni­cate with all of the fish trapped in­side the plas­tic prison they in­habit.

Fast for­ward four years and we again see Arthur, now 13 (Otis Dhanji) who is just start­ing to catch on that he is much more than just a young lad with light­ning fast re­flexes. Through­out his youth and adult years, Arthur knows there is some­thing not quite

right as he is faster than Amer­i­can Olympian swim­mer Michael Phelps (who tal­lied 28 medals) and can both breathe and com­mu­ni­cate un­der­wa­ter.

It’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore Arthur con­nects with flam­ing red-headed Mera (Am­ber Heard) of whom we first saw in “Jus­tice League.”

She is also a hy­brid who brings Arthur down to the mod­ern-day At­lantis.

Oh, and Mere’s spe­cialty? She can cre­ate “hard wa­ter” un­der­sea ob­jects ala “Green Lan­tern.”

Pretty cool, ac­tu­ally. Both go on a lengthy jour­ney in the mid­dle of the desert to find what is left of the lost

city of At­lantis which in turn puts them on a col­li­sion course to find the “Tri­dent of Nep­tune” which will give the bearer un­told su­per pow­ers over the in­hab­i­tants of the deep.

“Aqua­man” is bright and cheery with many of the land­side bat­tles tak­ing place in broad day­light, in­clud­ing a very cool chase scene with the an­tag­o­nist “Black Manta” (Yahya Ab­dul-Ma­teen II) hot on the heels of this dy­namic duo, shoot­ing ray beams out from his “manta” head­set.

Even­tu­ally there is a mas­sive “set” scene—I have no idea what you would call it be­ing a thou­sand feet deep in the ocean—which pits the forces

of Orm (Pa­trick Wil­son) who goes by the nom de plume of “Ocean Mas­ter” and even­tu­ally mano a mano against Arthur for un­der­sea supremacy.

There are no di­rect ref­er­ences to Bat­man, Su­per­man or the rest of the Jus­tice League and I was hard pressed to fig­ure out of this movie came right after the “League” film or just be­fore.

“Aqua­man” be­ing a com­pletely stand-alone su­per­hero ac­tion flick, Wan does a very good job in keep the lens di­rectly on Mo­moa and his un­der­sea quest and not mess­ing around with the DC Ex­tended Uni­verse time­line or its myr­iad of su­per­heroes.

Ex­cept this one time. In “Man of Steel” when Su­per­man fi­nally fig­ures out he can fly, he shoots straight up and we see him in a wide an­gle shot go­ing com­pletely ver­ti­cal as he breaks the sound bar­rier.

In “Aqua­man,” Mo­moa’s Arthur Curry does like­wise, even­tu­ally don­ning the clas­sic and atom­i­cally cor­rect, form­fit­ting gold and green cos­tume. From the bot­tom of the ocean, Arthur shoots straight up, zoom­ing through the wa­ter like a cruise mis­sile.

Both scenes are iden­ti­cal and the ref­er­ence be­tween the two would be im­pos­si­ble for any comic-book fan­boy to miss.

”Aqua­man” is a hoot.

It’s right up there with the best that Mar­vel Stu­dios has done. Think “Spi­der-Man 2” (2004) qual­ity with Dr. Oc­to­pus but just slightly be­low this year’s “Avengers: In­fin­ity War.”

Yes, bless me for I have sinned as “Aqua­man” has brought redemp­tion to the folks at Warner Bros.

Every­one in­volved with “Aqua­man” de­serves a rous­ing BRAVO for a great story, spot on act­ing, a hand­some as spit lead­ing man with the best spe­cial ef­fects money can buy.

Would some­one please give me an Amen?

***

Ques­tions, com­ments or travel sug­ges­tions, write me at theruf­fo­[email protected]­in­gruffo­los.com.

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