2018 has been an exceptional year for superhero movies. From Black Panther, Deadpool 2 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we have seen comic book movies across the spectrum explore different sub-genres within their films. Aquaman is no exception. Before I really start my review, I will say I had a blast with this movie. It surpassed all my expectations and I can’t wait to see what they do for the future of this franchise.
The story finds Aquaman (Jason Momoa) caught between the surface world that ravages the sea, and the underwater Atlanteans who are ready to revolt. In a few ways, Aquaman reminded me of Man of Steel. Kal was supposed to be the bridge between the Kryptonians and humans, while Arthur is meant to bring the Atlanteans and humans together. In this way, the film was a great nod to the original movie that birthed the DC’s cinematic universe.
Aquaman is definitely one of the best movies in the DCEU and it truly gave me optimism for the future of all the DC franchises. James Wan was already tasked with the huge responsibility of bringing Aquaman to the big screen in his own movie, and not only did he have to introduce Atlantean mythology, he also had to bring an entire underwater civilization to life – which he succeeds in doing in a beautiful and incredible way. The best thing about his approach to this movie is that he wanted to make sure it worked for all ages. The concept of Aquaman is one that can be seen as cheesy, let’s face it – he can talk to fish which is something that’s easy to ridicule, but Wan found a way to make Aquaman a badass, while still acknowledging the original cheesiness of the character in fun and creative ways.
Jason Momoa did a fantastic job leading this movie. As Momoa is basically Arthur Curry in real life, he really didn’t even have to act – he was just being himself, which is what the movie needed. I thought Amber Heard did a great job as well and her introduction scene is easily one of the coolest scenes to come from one of the DCEU films. As she is unfamiliar with the mainland, she is a bit naïve and has an innocence about her, but she doesn’t hesitate to be a powerful warrior when she needs to be. However, while Momoa and Heard were great on their own, in the beginning of the movie, there seemed to be something missing in regards to the chemistry between Arthur and Mera. Luckily, this was something that didn’t last for the entire film, as the pair began to click more towards the latter half of the film.
Now, let’s talk about the villains! Patrick Wilson was absolutely phenomenal as Orm a.k.a. Oceanmaster. From the beginning of the movie, you understand why he’s angry at the humans and why he feels that something needs to be done. Wan did a great job of developing the character, and not making him a one-dimensional villain. Momoa and Wilson worked really well with one another as brothers, and the duo had some awesome underwater fight scenes that were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Another villain that requires praise is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta. Abdul-Mateen II was awesome as Black Manta, but because of everything that is going on in the story, Black Manta took a backseat. I would’ve liked to see more character development as it pertains to Black Manta, but it was pretty obvious that he will have a bigger role in the Aquaman franchise as a whole.
Although this movie was great, it wouldn’t be fair to ignore some of the issues the film has. Since this movie had to set up so many things, the storylines get a bit tangled at times, which can be a bit hard to follow. This is why the second viewing was better for me as I was able to follow things a lot easier. This is probably my biggest critique of the movie. However, I think it would have been hard to avoid some of that, just because of everything the cast and crew needed to accomplish. I expect the sequel to have a much more linear story now that they have built the underwater universe.
Overall, I had a blast with this Aquaman. It had a few stumbles, but as a whole, it is an awesome action-packed adventure. Wan created an underwater fantasy world that I never imagined could be possible. Regardless of who you are, I think there’s something everyone will be able to take away from this movie.
Be sure to catch Aquaman when it splashes into theaters on December 21!