Finally! DC finally hit the mark with Aquaman. Well, a lot of people will argue that they already did with Wonder Woman, but although WW was good, it wasn’t great like this movie was. This was everything a superhero movie should be and huge props to Furious 7 director James Wan for this fun and entertaining homage to the comic books and the Aquaman, the character.
Synopsis: After the queen of Atlantis Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) falls in love with a mortal and bears with him a child named Arthur, she decides to return to the ocean to protect her family from being hunted down by her betrothed whom she was trying to flee from before she met her mortal beau. As the years passed, Arthur (Jason Momoa) uses his powers to protect the people of the surface, earning him the monicker Aquaman. However, his half brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who now rules Atlantis, is instigating a war that would unite the underwater kingdoms to attack humankind and it is up to Arthur, with the aid of Princess Mera (Amber Heard) and Atlanna’s loyal advisor Vulko (Willem Dafoe), to claim the throne of Atlantis and stop the war before both the ocean and the surface worlds are destroyed completely by the mayhem.
When James Wan signed on to do this movie, he made a commitment to fans that he would avenge Aquaman from all the ridicule that the characters received over the years from DC fans. The good news is that he was able to deliver on his promise and then some. How’s that for vindication? This early, I can even say that Aquaman is the Iron Man of the DC Extended Universe and this is not because the movie had a huge budget at its disposal. It was because it invested (and succeeded) in developing a character that fans would love to follow to future movies.
Jason Momoa showed great promise in Justice League but because the focus was centered on Superman and Batman, Aquaman and the Flash were sidelined as secondary characters. However, in his first solo movie, Aquaman proved that he was more than capable of headlining his own adventure and he can hold audiences’ attention for over two hours without taking the overly serious route like Man of Steel
This film had tons of personality. From the pacing, to the action, to the music, to the CGI, everything worked together to deliver a full package. The script was witty and entertaining. The characters were perfect for their roles, most especially Jason Momoa, who gave so much character to his role that it felt natural and seamless. Very few actors are able to carry out badass action with belly laugh comedy but Momoa makes it look so easy. He has a natural likeability to him that resonates to the audience and I could only think of a few actors who can transition this well. This is a plus for the movie because Momoa is able to sell the character to the young audience and the adult fans alike and even the women because they literally swoon with tons of shirtless scenes the film provided as a fan service. Plus, Arthur was so sweet to his dad, its adorable. That being said, Momoa was hands down the best choice for Aquaman. I mean, who can pull all this off, right?
Amber Heard was great as Mera because she played off Aquaman so well and they had a genuine rapport, as did Willem Dafoe, but that’s a given.
James Wan’s constant collaborator Patrick Wilson was also in this movie to play the main villain and he did it really well. He has a different body structure than Jason Momoa which should make him look smaller but because he embodies Orm’s megalomania and greed for power, it makes him appear every bit as huge as his on-screen sibling. On the other hand, he is also able to convey the reason that he hates his brother so much leaving audiences to hope that perhaps, the Ocean Master would reconcile with his brother eventually.
Speaking of body structure, while I’m a big fan of sticking to the original designs from the comic books, I didn’t think that Jason’s bulky frame went well with the gold and green Aquaman costume from the comics. His silver costume from Justice League, I think was the better choice, for consideration in future movies. As for the set design and cinematography of this movie, just wow! The colors were visually stunning and the CGI was on point. The hair bothered me a bit but that was negligible.
I like the fact that the structure of the movie had a lot of Lord of the Rings to it. There was a quest, there was a brewing war and the underdogs (in this case Arthur) needed to defeat a powerful foe with a strong army in his command. (It also paid some homage to the Fast and Furious franchise with the roof chase) However, I was very impressed by the fact that it was not Aquaman’s strength, speed or battle skills that won him the victory but rather his ability to communicate with the creatures of the sea that sealed him the win. Take note that Arthur was bullied for being different when he was in school but it was the animals who saved him. The animals saved him and Mera from getting caught by Orm and his army and it was his ability to communicate with Karathen that made the creature back off on Arthur’s quest for the trident. It was also the creatures of the sea who served as his army when he set out to stop Ocean Master from starting his war on the surface. Its also interesting that fans have been poking fun at Aquaman’s ability to talk to sea creatures for decades. So how’s this for vindication?
Aquaman also played it smart and already provided a set-up for the next big villain, the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul Mateen II) although I don’t think that Manta is really in the same level as Orm. I would think that he would need to network with a lot of villains to stand a chance against Aquaman, who is now King of Atlantis and in possession of the trident of Atlan, with the power control the seven seas.
All in all, I loved that the film reignited interest in a character that always took the backseat to the likes of Batman and Superman, just like Iron Man was to Captain America before the film blew up to be a box office success. Robert Downey Jr. connected Iron Man to the fans. Aquaman, for his part, was cool and edgy and was a true superhero through and through. The movie showed his journey to meet his destiny and it wasn’t corny one single bit but because Arthur was just like any one of us. Jason Momoa made Aquaman a part of the audience’s family like he was a part of the ocean and surface worlds and he did it in the short space of 2 1/2 hours. So congrats DC, after many tries, you finally nailed it. And it was EPIC. All caps. You deserve it.