Master of Oceans.
James Wan’s Aquaman movie is an imperfect marriage between the modern superhero movies of today, and the cheesy action-fests of the past. While the film is immensely entertaining, especially for a character that is often the joke of the DC Universe, the acclaimed horror director strikes a fun balance of action, humor, and gives the character some much needed toughness and grit that translates to a more engaging character overall.
The film sets up much of its story early and weaves in the backstory of Arthur Curry growing up during scenes that requires that information to be relevant. We are shown how Arthur’s parent’s meet and the reasons for his mother’s sudden departure, as well as given the backstory with regards to how Atlantis and its oceanianic allies view the surface world as a threat, a narrative that is the very backbone of the movie’s plot and the focus of its villain; Ocean Master. Where the story doesn’t make sense, is that it both acknowledges the events of Justice League yet also chooses to ignore certain parts of it as well. This may very be because Aquaman was being written and worked on before Joss Whedon came in and altered the team-up film after its initial Director left the project.
As Arthur is a mixed breed of Atlantean and Human, he is viewed as an outsider, unworthy of taking the throne. King Orm, Ocean Master’s royal name and title, has him as a man who is desperate to conquer the surface world and take Atlantis from a hidden empire to one of world wide dominance. His story is very typical, cliche, but Patrick Wilson is what saves the role from being too hammy and over the top. The Watchman actor is superb here and his blond lockes made him almost unrecognizable for much of the film. While Orm shares the film with villain, Black Mantra, the latter feels shoe-horned in and while he has a few fun moments in the film, feels largely there to setup the next movie.
While she made an appearance in 2017’s Justice League film, Amber Heard reprises her role as Mera, daughter of King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren). Mera seeks out Arthur to convince him to take the throne and prevent King Orm from assembling his forces to conquer the surface world. For the most part, I thought Heard did a pretty decent job here as Mera, complete with several scenes of the princess kicking some serious ass and offering us some excellent moments of her ability to control water. While she is meant to be the future wife of Aquaman, there are a few moments where the two just simply don’t have chemistry.
Jason Momoa at no point feels like Aquaman, and that’s not exactly a bad thing. It’s very clear that WB wanted to have their own version of Thor, in some ways, and Momoa largely feels like he’s playing himself, rather than that of the Atlantean. Much like Thor: Ragnarok, this is clearly a film where the actors are having a fun time with the role rather than worrying about how the character is portrayed. Again, it’s not a bad thing that they pretty much abandoned the look and tone of the comic book character, and instead chose to create something a bit more fun and functional to the story they are telling.
Aquaman is a fun film that has some decent CGI and an enjoyable cast. The story itself isn’t mind-blowing, and is often at odds with certain story moments from Justice League, but it is largely enjoyable and takes a few fun turns that allows the film to flow nicely. Nicole Kidman, as Arthur Mother is also enjoyable and we even get to see the actress kick some Atlantean butt as well. For a film that can somewhat feel like a combination of Thor and Black Panther, but underwater, DC has produced a very watchable and enjoyable flick that is better down where it’s wetter, take it from me.