Aquaman: Film Review

I don’t have a very high opinion of the DC Extended Universe (excluding Wonder Woman) so I was expecting another disappointing effort with Aquaman’s standalone debut, so imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying it.

Before the title, we get a mini origins story about where Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) came from – lighthouse keeper Thomas (Temuera Morrison) and Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) fall in love and have a baby and she returns home to Atlantis to face her punishment. The action after the title follows on from the events of Justice League. Arthur, who lives on ‘the surface’ but has Atlantean powers, is visited by Mera (Amber Heard) who implores him to become the rightful king of Atlantis as his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) is planning a war against the other kingdoms and then the surface. She believes Arthur can reunite the kingdoms and introduce peace between land and sea, but first he needs to find King Atlan’s all-powerful trident.

The most recent DCEU movies have been quite dry, serious affairs so it is a breath of fresh air having an instalment that’s so fun. It’s not on Marvel levels of levity and humour but it offers more light-hearted entertainment, attempts at witty banter and little comedy touches. The approach felt quite old school, like a throwback to early 2000s superhero movies (in a good way), and cheesy at times, though it’s hard to say if this was done in a deliberate, tongue-in-cheek way or unintentionally. That bizarre cover of Toto’s Africa can’t have been for real, right?!

I’ve made it clear time and time again that I hate CGI heavy scenes so I preferred the scenes on dry land as opposed to underwater, which are entirely CG except for the actors. Atlantis did look beautiful but I preferred more realistic settings, such as Sicily, which is the setting of my favourite stunt sequence in the movie. The fight scenes were all very well done, until the end when it goes into classic massive CG battle territory, becoming a total mess.

Momoa was a likeable and captivating lead. He was clearly having fun and leaning into the cheese factor and his interactions with Heard were charming. I loved seeing her kick ass and take matters into her own hands, going against her fiance Orm to do what’s right. They also both looked amazing! Kidman was my other favourite as we see her in a new light and her fight sequence was unreal. Willem Dafoe was cool as the dependable right hand man who had been secretly training Arthur for years, while Wilson, Dolph Lundgren and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II make up the bad guy contingent.

Aquaman doesn’t have the coolest set of skills and the film doesn’t have the smartest, most original script or the most top notch CG all the time (though it’s mostly good) but James Wan has delivered a film which has heart, an interesting lead with personality (personality is so hard to come by in the DCEU) and I had fun with it. It’s almost two and a half hours but it didn’t drag and that says something. I would happily watch another instalment with these guys.

In cinemas now 

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  1. […] I laughed out loud a lot and I reckon kids will love it. The majority of the DCEU (excluding Aquaman) takes itself pretty seriously and this was the antidote to that. It was refreshing to see a […]

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