The thing that stood out the most about Aquaman came from its story construction. Aquaman doesn't have scenes, it has moments and they are all crafted exactly the same. It starts with a setup based on a familiar trope, then some build up followed by a joke. Sometimes the joke is a subversion of the trope, other times it's just a one-liner or a surprise. This is the only way the movie is constructed; just a bunch of these moments back to back from the very beginning. After two and a half hours of the same thing over and over, I was ready to leave the theater.
This problem seeped into the locations the characters visited. Though there were many exotic places, I felt like I never got to spend any time there. It's like the movie was a train and I stared out the window, never knowing more than just a couple of seconds of superficial detail.
The dialogue was a mixed bag, which is really weird since it actually had some interesting ideas. There were great lines of dialogue butchered by the delivery which was disheartening. All of the leads did a good enough job, but it was the side characters that consistently underperformed.
The action scenes were a pretty big disappointment as well. James Wan's signature style of shooting hand to hand combat sequences was in full effect. Complete with camera spins and tracking shots, the over the top action was definitely on display. The problem that I did not foresee however, was how much Zack Snyder would influence Aquaman visually. Wan liberally used freeze frames, slow motion, and virtual camera moves to nauseating effect. It straight up ruined a few action scenes, depriving them of weight and impact.
Aquaman is a movie that was entirely spoiled by its trailers. The first trailer shows off all the plot points for the movie and it only gets more egregious for the rest. It's lack of story coupled with its predictability make it really hard to watch. None of the characters have an arc; Aquaman starts the movie not wanting to be king and ends it as king only because he had to. It feels like the movie could have been better if it wasn't changing genres every 20 minutes as well. This is perfectly reflected in the soundtrack when the movie goes from action to techno, jumping from classic adventure to Pitbull's cover of 'Africa'. The movie is all over the place but people will love it because the DCEU now has jokes. "The lightheartedness isn't the basic problem that needs to be fixed here. The overused and unearned moment is DC's greatest foe" is one of the best quotes that sums up what went wrong with Aquaman.
It may steal ideas from seven other movies, but it constantly pushing forward made it not boring