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Aquaman Review : The Trident is a little blunt

Is “Aquaman” better than “Justice League”? Yes!

Caffeinated Clint




James Wan


Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Run time:

143 mins


Those milkshakes might bring all the boys to the yard – but what if, once they take a sip, they’re suddenly hit by the realization that the syrup that gives it its flavor has been used way too scarcely?

That’s how many will feel about Warner’s “Aquaman” – pretty on the outside and full to the brim but somewhat ordinary, lacking the bubble and taste of the better superhero films in recent years.

Sure, the trident works… it’s just a little blunt.

The story kicks off on the coastline of Maine, where a kindly local (Temuera Morrison) rescues a wounded woman (Nicole Kidman) from the shallow waters below the lighthouse. As she reveals, she’s from the sea – a citizen of the underwater city of Atlantis. Time passes, they fall in love, and ultimately, baby Arthur enters the picture.

After a soldier of weapon-blazing Atlantians come looking for her, Atlanna comes to the conclusion that her husband and child will be safer if she returns to her home.  So that’s what she does. And as far as legend has it, she was sentenced to death upon arriving back. Fade to Black.

Years later, ‘half-breed’ Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), still loving with his pop, is approached by a woman from the water, Mera (Amber Heard) who requests his presence in Atlantis. It’s there that he – the rightful King – will aid in the fight against the malevolent Orm (Patrick Wilson), also Arthur’s half-brother, who is determined to bring destruction to the people above.

Aquaman – a character that increased in popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s, as a founding member of the Justice League – will one day be the King of Atlantis, that we know, but not before he accepts his heritage, hones his powers, and finds the spiky thing that allows him to rule.

Within the next couple of hours, Curry – with underwater-pal Mera, the King’s daughter, assisting – will evade all sorts of human and non-human threats, and likely, take on his turncoat sibling.

So, just quickly, is “Aquaman” better than “Justice League”? Yes – but that didn’t sit a very high benchmark, did it?  (Even the last “Ghoulies” flick looks like Bertolucci next to it). Still, it is – this resembles an actual film, with an actual start, middle and end, as opposed to a random cushion of loose film negatives from weak comic-book fan-films enveloped together.

Is Jason Momoa good as the future King of the Sea ? Yes, he sure is – though he could’ve used some smarter, witter dialogue to dish out as he chased his throne. Still, he does get to do more than shout ‘My Man!’ twenty times, so that’s a win for his agent.

Does the ‘senator of scares’ James Wan (“Saw”, “Insidious”, “The Conjuring”) deliver as good as superhero film as he does horror films? The toilet-break I didn’t mind taking somewhere in the middle of the 2-hour 23-minute film might answer that.

Thing is, this isn’t a ‘James Wan Film’ and was never going to be.

After the commercial and critical failures of most (“Wonder Woman” an exception) of DC’s previous superhero films (particularly last year’s “Justice League”, which Momoa’s Aquaman featured in), anyone tackling “Aquaman” was going to have their work cut out for them – especially if they’re coming in hoping to put their own stamp or trademark-style on the picture. By-and-large, the filmmaker is to stick to a tried-and-true formula that was pre-prepared before they even took their seat at the table.

Based on comments made by most filmmakers who’ve directed a superhero movie over the past twenty years, the filmmaker isn’t necessarily being hired for their imaginative ideas, trademark directing style or refreshing vision – you’re a hired gun answering to a committee, a committee that’s already decided on the look and tone of a movie before a director is even hired. And as we saw with the “Justice League” debacle, too many cooks usually result in a kitchen that goes down in flames. That’s not exactly the case here, there’s only a few small spot fires on show, but hardly any of Wan’s strengths on screen.

Admittedly, anyone bringing this comic to the silver screen was always going to have to jump through some hard waves. The character of Aquaman, or Arthur Curry as he’s known on dry land, has long been designated the more ridiculous of the justice league bunch – what with his main super power being that he can talk to fish. But with the film, co-writer and director Wan takes the only workable approach – by playing up the ridiculous element of the character, and his world, and having his film mimic a fast-packed Japanese anime than serious superhero fare.

And while the approach works for the most part, it’s also that impetus to play up the silly, and trumpet the film’s visual oddities, that ultimately hurts the film. By focusing largely on the film’s outrageous special effects sequences, visual-stirring but lengthy underwater battle sequences and an assortment of CGI creatures (an octopus playing the drums, anyone?), Wan has lost what made his horror entries so great – a unique plot, interesting characters one could invest in, and enough compel to drive the story forward. Plus, there’s just so, so, so much of ‘it’  – after a while, all you see is  a computer-generated orgy of tentacles flipping, flopping and smacking the sides of submarines and dancing around lasers. Scissors, editors, scissors!

The script, penned by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (“Orphan”) and Will Beall (“Gangster Squad”), plays more like blockbusters of a similar ilk – largely “Avatar”, “Thor” and “Tron Legacy” (of which this film’s plot, hidden fantastical world and even score closely resemble) than the fresher, more captivating comic book fare of late like “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” , “Logan”, even DC’s “Wonder Woman”.

If the “Fast & Furious” film he did, and now “Aquaman”, prove anything it’s that Wan is best suited to smaller, more original genre films – not super-sized studio blockbusters, especially not the ones where he’s essentially only being hired to point and shoot. At least then, he’ll likely get to do his thing.

Better than the uneven style-to-substance ratio is the cast – with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman a fun, bicep-tually charming and likeable hero. He doesn’t have a lot to work with, and we never quite get to know the guy as anything other than a cocky meathead, but he’s engaging to watch.

Amber Heard’s bust doesn’t fare as well, with her lack of acting chops so cumbersomely evident in several big moments, but she does, like her onscreen love interest, at least look the part.

Also fun to see Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren and Julie Andrews (who we don’t so much see, as we do hear) in very different roles than we’re used to seeing them – near all of them cast in the part you least expect to see them in.

Momoa may be the star but it’s Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison, playing Curry’s parents, in their own sweet bookend story, that stand out. Kidman, kicking all sorts of arse in a role that’s a radical departure for the thesp, and Morrison, playing the sort of protective and somber role he barely gets to play, are incredible together as the tragic lovers who’s coming together sets the events of the film in motion. Their performances, and their little story, is one of the film’s highlights.

“Aquaman” isn’t a bad movie, in fact it has a lot going on for it on a technical and creative level, and it’s not the mess “Justice League” was, but it sure would’ve been nice if they’d pulled back on all the battered fish and not let the writers flake off. Maybe the sequel – of which the customary end credits sequence sets up – won’t be so waterlogged.

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Caffeinated Clint’s Ten Favourite Films of 2018

And also his least favourite films of the year!

Caffeinated Clint



I don’t know that it was a great year for movies – in fact, most of the films I’d been anticipating bit me like a leech on the testicle – but that doesn’t mean there still wasn’t some tasty meat in between the pellets. For every “Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom” there was a “Blackkklansman”, and for every [Insert Amy Schumer Movie Title] Here there was “Boy Erased”. Studios stuck to the recent norm of putting style over substance when it came to their tentpoles, leaving so many of the hotly anticipated and unyieldingly-promoted fare from the likes of chafing disappointments, but those major independent labels and artistic auteurs more than made up for any bugs in the system, smearing MacAfee virus removal all over the marquee with their distinct, diverse and surprisingly unique offerings.

The year’s biggest surprise  – if only because it was a project that had been simmering away for the better part of fifteen years, losing director after director, leads after leads – was undoubtedly “A Star is Born”, which not only introduced audiences to ‘up and coming’ actress Lady Gaga, whose name will now be firmly cemented in cinema as much as it’s been in music, but also tyro director Bradley Cooper, who took on a discarded Eastwood project and put his own unique and powerful spin on it. Sure, it’s a story we’d seen time and time again (in fact, this is the fourth version of “A Star is Born”), but it was the chemistry of the leads, those dynamite performances, and the emotion carved into the libretto that kept critics and audiences hooked.

Like Cooper, freshman director Joel Edgerton also hit it out of the park this year with his turn behind the camera – “Boy Erased”. What a film that was. Just sublime. Powerful stuff.

On the no-surprise front, the always-dependable “Mission : Impossible” franchise continued to impress – is it the only series that actually improves as it goes on!? – just as much as its headline act, Tom Cruise, does with the most entertaining, most skilled blockbuster of the year “Fallout”. Featuring a killer turn from Henry Cavill as its hulking villain, eye-popping stunts and action sequences, and endless reminders why Tom Cruise is still the most bankable box-office star of our times, sixth time was the charm for the now 22-year-old movie franchise.

If one genre had the monopoly on the ‘best of’ list this year it was the family category, with everything from Paramount’s “Bumblebee”, Pixar’s “The Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, and Sony Animation’s “Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse” all topping most live-action fare when it comes to sheer storytelling, allure and uniqueness. Seems the computer maketh some awesome filmeth!

Also very solid, the superhero movie fare of 2018 – sure, there were the fun, enjoyable time-passers like “Deadpool 2” and “Aquaman” but at the top end of the scale were some truly magnificent pieces, like the ground-breaking and exceedingly breathtaking “Black Panther” from Marvel.

Bearing in mind I’m still to catch up with quite a few movies that have made most Top Ten lists (including “If Beale Street Could Talk”, “Green Book”, “Suspiria” and “First Reformed”) here are my top ten favourite movies of 2018 :


A Star is Born

Mission : Impossible  – Fallout

Boy Erased


A Quiet Place

Black Panther

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Avengers : Infinity War

Game Night

The Incredibles 2


Runners-Up : Annihilation, Bumblebee, Spider-Man : Into the Spider-Verse, Ant-Man & The Wasp


And, for me, these were the least enjoyable films of the year…



Super Troopers 2

Holmes & Watson

I Feel Pretty

Truth or Dare

Oceans 8



The Predator

Jurassic World : Fallen Kingdom

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Apparently Sinbad stars in the new Aladdin?

Don’t worry, he’ll be a Man in Blue come summer 2019

Caffeinated Clint



The Fresh Prince of Blue Heir.

Disney have unveiled a first look at Will Smith’s Genie from the upcoming live-action (in case you haven’t heard, that’s the latest thing Disney have dampened their undies for lately) ‘Aladdin’, and I gotta tell you, it is absolutely beautiful to see such full those hearts at Christmastime… as evident in social media responses.

For the record, and if it helps with the eye chafing, the character will be ‘blue’ in the finished film. Mike Lowery said it himself. In other words, the movie is going to be the shizzle. All it needs is a blue genie, after all. Right!?

Some other pics from the upcoming flick are below, but first, a new photo from Disney’s upcoming “Lion King” adaptation – here’s Mufasa.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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We’ve got your first look at Deadwood the movie!

First pics feature Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant; executive producer talks storyline

Caffeinated Clint



Sayin’ questions in that tone and pointin’ your finger at me will get you told to **** yourself.

Christmas comes early for “Deadwood” fans with the first pics from the long-awaited film version – releasing – hitting the online distraction service today.

There’s Ian McShane, hardly aged a day, looking as devilish as ever as saloon owner Al Swearingen, and also our first look at a slightly older but even slightly more distinguished Seth Bullock, now a U.S Marshal, played by Timothy Olyphant.

Also returning from the HBO series : Molly Parker (Alma Ellsworth), Paula Malcomson (Trixie), John Hawkes (Sol Star), Anna Gunn (Martha Bullock), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter), Brad Dourif (Doc Cochran), Robin Weigert (“Calamity” Jane Canary), William Sanderson (E.B. Farnum), Kim Dickens (Joanie Stubbs) and Gerald McRaney (George Hearst).

They’ve been yakking about a movie version of “Deadwood” for quite some time – in fact, near as soon as the show was cancelled, at the conclusion of its third season. It’s taken a number of years to get together, largely because of cast scheduling, but the photos above prove it’s finally a reality.

”Tim was pretty tough. I will say he really dug in — in a good way, not a stubborn way — with good thoughts on where to take his character and the story and kept pushing on that, and they were helpful thoughts in terms of getting the script where it needed to be”, the film’s EP Carolyn Straus tells EW.

Series creator David Milch scripted the film, which airs sometime next year. It will reportedly be about time taking it’s toll on people.

“If you ask David, it’s about the passage of time”, says Straus. “The toll of time on people. It’s mellowed some people and hardened others. And it’s about the town’s maturing and becoming part of the Union and what that event sets in motion, in a very personal way for the people that it brings in town and what ensues. The toll of time has not just struck Deadwood and the characters but all the people making it as well, you get to see the faces of people 12 years later. And it was really profound. Actors were crying at the table read — not necessarily from the script but the emotion of being back and doing something we all loved doing so much. You normally have a great experience and then it’s over. You don’t normally get the chance to do this in life. It was kind of a gift.”

Swearingen has endured a lot since we last saw him, says Straus.

”The time has taken its greatest toll on Swearengen. He’s the person who really drove so much of the life of the town and there’s a sense of that power waning somewhat, and what ensues of that is a big part of the story.”

There was originally talk of two “Deadwood” movies – which Milch had said would wrap up the storylines left dangling after the series annulment – but at this stage, even if we only get the one, it’s one more than I think most of us assumed we’d ever get.

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