Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.

About thirty minutes into Aquaman, I’m already thinking that it’s such a dumb movie… and then soon after I finally accept the fact that I was watching a movie about a man who can talk to fish. Aquaman, unlike more relatable heroes such as Batman or Spider-man, is an inherently silly character. Whereas the former have an identifiable humanity to them, Aquaman has always been too fantastical for mainstream audiences. Which explains why this 59-year-old comic book character has taken this long to get his film debut.

I give a lot of credit to the filmmakers, who understood the nature of the hero and rolled with it even to the point of blatant sexual appeal with a ripped, shirtless Jason Mamoa, and Amber Heard wearing a busty skin-tight fish costume. Clearly the film is meant to be appreciated on its superficiality alone.

This is a movie whose idea of imaginative world-building is to literally stop at the gates of Atlantis and explain that, in order to get into this magical underwater kingdom, they would normally need to go through immigration and customs… but that because one of them has a diplomatic pass, they can bypass the security checkpoint. Later on when things turn sour there, the two leads escape with their lives by hiding inside the mouth of a whale. “It worked for Pinocchio!” says one of them. Since the other character doesn’t know who Pinocchio is, the joke bombs… but not for long, since someone literally hands them a copy of Pinocchio just so we know that they know what the joke is.

Despite this banality, however, the movie’s original visual style and perfectly executed action sequences are what make it worth watching. It’s pleasing just to look at all of the imaginative underwater creatures and different species of humanoids that inhabit the various underwater worlds. The fight scenes are so good it’s almost as if they are from a better movie. This is the rare kind of empty entertainment that is hard to pull off well. So many movies try to be junk food and fail due to a lack of care; but with so much going for it, this is the best dumb movie in recent memory.

Aquaman is playing now at the AMC Southcenter 16, the AMC Kent Station 14, the Century Federal Way, and Regal’s Stadium Landing 14 in Renton.

Find tickets and showtimes on Fandango.
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