Aquaman may not be as focused or as well-rounded as Wonder Woman, but it's a load of fun and a technical achievement that DC should be very proud of. James Wan directs with visual awe that is going to blow your mind, while Jason Momoa continues to be the shining beacon of hope for humor and bad ass in the DC-U.
James Wan returns to the big-budget Hollywood blockbuster sandbox for DC’s Aquaman, after saving Universal’s Fast & Furious franchise with Furious 7, arguably one of the best films of that series. Aquaman plays out very much like Furious 7, boasting already established characters and worlds with a sense of visual flare and elegantly-shot action sequences that are easy to digest and a blast to watch. Aquaman might be campy and bloated, but it’s sure a heck of a lot more fun than Suicide Squad or Justice League.
Arthur (Jason Momoa) is a meta-human that’s the offspring of an underwater queen (Atlanna – played by Nicole Kidman) that came on land in search of refuge, but found love and compassion. She has since been banished, while Arthur grew up on land, preparing for the day that he would be called back to Atlantis.
Mera (Amber Heard) calls upon Arthur to come and — you guessed it, save the world (both above and below) from his villainous half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson). Orm is your stereotypical bad guy, wanting to destroy all land-living humans, because of their pollution and war.
Now, Arthur must venture beyond the seven seas and trek across the globe in search of an almighty trident that is said to bring peace throughout the world.
Director James Wan steps into Aquaman with his usual bag of tricks, kicking the visuals to a whole new level, while mixing in his trademark kinetic action sequences that make way for inventive, stylistic and fresh filmmaking that we absolutely need more of. I knew from the very beginning that Wan would be the perfect choice for such an ambitious and unique project, primarily taking place underwater and in all sorts of colorful worlds.
Wan brings the perfect balance of big-budget filmmaking and indie sense of risk and visual creativity. Sure, chunks of the film’s dialogue feels as campy and as corny as a CW DC show, but man does this film swing for the fences.
For every minor script misstep Aquaman takes, it takes five massive leaps ahead with its world-building abilities that bring us dozens upon dozens of new set pieces and characters that are absolutely head-to-toe gorgeous and made even more complex with the added dimension of 3D.
Aquaman is a 3D event film that demands an IMAX experience.
But, what good is the world of Aquaman without a charming lead? Luckily for us, Jason Momoa continues to strike that perfect balance of “bro” and ” bad ass”, not quite capturing that same magic as Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor, but coming incredibly close. Momoa has a certain likable charm that cannot be avoided. He’s so inherently nice and he carries that over into the film almost effortlessly, giving us Arthur, a man simply trying to unite the people and bring peace throughout the world, despite not really being on one side or the other.
Amber Heard co-stars as Mera, bringing a smart and subdued balance to Arthur’s punch-first, ask questions later attitude. Mera might be sidelined throughout some of the film as a character that simply guides Arthur on his journey, but she holds her own quite well once the sea creatures start attacking from all directions.
Patrick Wilson brings a lot of slimy fun to the role of King Orm. He’s clearly over-doing his entire performance and it’s an absolute treat. He’s worked with Wan on many films and at this point I can totally see why, because Wilson has such range. He’s a complete asshole in this film, yet you still kind of hope he comes around by the end of the film, if only to see him team up with Arthur for some true underwater ass-kicking.
Aquaman‘s biggest problem is its running time and its inability to capture everything over the course of its two-plus hour length, which really had no reason being so long. That isn’t to say that James Wan doesn’t cram in endless downright stunning shots and sequences that could be individually framed and sold as high-class art.
I loved Aquaman and have no problem giving it high praise, because it truly is a miracle after the string of DC nightmares that just can’t seem to nail down a tone or singular idea. Aquaman establishes its tone early on and rolls with it until the very end. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does entertain and visually stimulate the senses by exposing us to a whole new world of adventures and fun that I can’t wait to see revisited in eventual sequels or tie-ins.