Aquaman is the sixth installment of the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) and the first feature film to star the superhero. The movie follows the journey of Aquaman/Arthur Curry as he must figure out whether he belongs on the surface world or the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. It is this journey that he must also fight his half-brother who wishes to wage war on humanity for damaging the oceans.
This is James Wan’s first superhero film, as he is most famous for directing horror films such as “Saw,””Insidious,” and “The Conjuring.” I was a little interested in seeing how he would bring forth his talents into the DC world. Does his direction pan out wonderfully in this movie? As a whole, not necessarily. But in certain aspects, the talent does shine through.
The overall scope, size, and feel of this movie was grand. It felt like I was watching an epic unfold in front of my eyes. The thing that aided this feeling were the many worlds portrayed. Some of them were visually gorgeous and stunning to look at. Atlantis, in particular, was when I was really appreciating all of the bright and vibrant colors incorporated in the city. The whole city didn’t feel dead, it felt alive. The colors and how the whole thing looked made me think of the planet Pandora from “Avatar.” That is the best comparison I can come up with to describe the overall atmosphere.
The underwater scenes, in general, were pretty cool. I liked how the capes for some of the characters were flowing with water. It definitely made those characters feel god-like in some way. In fact, the costume work was nicely done. When Aquaman gets the classic orange/green suit, it looks nice. This movie definitely has a visual eye, to which it does look pretty and beautiful to look at in certain scenes.
Action in the movie was good, in particular, there are scenes where they are in one consecutive shot. The first action scene involved Nicole Kidman, in which she is doing all sorts of flips and kicks. All of this while the camera was following her movements. I thought it was cool at seeing what exactly is happening on screen as opposed to fast cuts and quick edits which what a majority of the film does. Not only fast edits but also an overabundance of CGI which I’ll get to later.
Jason Momoa as Aquaman was good, as well as the others including Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, and Willem Dafoe. Even though this “Aquaman” is not comic-book accurate, this incarnation works fine for this movie’s tone and atmosphere. The villains in the movie were not that engaging. There’s Ocean Master, played Patrick Wilson, is almost like Killmonger, Michael B. Jordan, from Black Panther. He threw environment messages toward the beginning and then its completely forgotten about. There was Black Manta, but he’s kind of pointless other than to set up Aquaman in the beginning. Visually these two villains look cool, but there’s nothing to them on a ‘deeper’ level.
The music here was fine, but there was one bit that was super bad and very cringy. This involved the movie including a Pitbull song. It was during where Jason Momoa and Amber Heard were emerging from the ocean and coming on to the shore. I looked like the beginning of a cheesy rap video.
This is a movie that does not need to be 2 hours and 20 minutes. It could have easily been 20 minutes shorter. The film wants to cram in some much story in so little time that it was all over the place.
The writing in this movie….was….very cheesy, corny, and sometimes bad. Which at some points I didn’t mind too much because this movie is trying to achieve that adventurous and light-hearted tone. But for the most part, I couldn’t help but think of some of the ridiculous lines that were being said in the movie.
The plot/story is pretty standard, it’s about a man trying to prove himself that he is better than everyone thinks he is. But it’s during this journey, that the film goes into “fish out of water” subplots. Aquaman’s take on it was fine, but it could have fleshed out more. Amber Heard takes a more childish and stupid approach when she believed that flowers on the surface are considered food. Her “fish out of water” subplot was wrapped pretty quickly also, to a point where you ask yourself did she learn anything or did she have a new understanding about the surface world.
Aquaman took quite of bit inspiration from many movies including Thor, Black Panther, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Avatar, etc. There are more but these are the most prominent. Like Indiana Jones, the movie felt adventurous with it traveling to many different locations across the globe. Like Star Wars. the climax of the film reminded me of the space battles between the Rebels and the Galactic Empire. You have lasers and many undersea creatures being thrown at the screen, it was madness. I’m pretty sure I saw the kitchen sink being tossed around. The climax itself was kind of overkill in the visual department, as there was so much going it was a little tough to make out. The last standoff between Aquaman and Ocean Master had so much rain/water that it honestly reminded of the DC Synder films. The appeal is nice, but it’s something that makes you wish this could all be happening in real-life rather than all of it happening in front of a green-screen.
Now with that said, even with those inspirations coming into play here in this grand and epic film, I honestly could care less. The emotional resonance from the characters is sorely lacking here. I just didn’t care about what each of the characters’ motivations was or what their goals are. Now I like said everyone in the movie does good in the roles, but the writing should have been a bit more serious and not so childish for the whole thing. This in terns would have made me at least care for what’s happening.
Aquaman, do I recommend it? I would say if you are looking for something massive, grand, and a movie that is made as a fun, bloated, popcorn flick, you’ll like it. But if you’re looking something more complex, more emotional, and something more low-key, this is not particular it. This a film that you basically need to turn off your brain and enjoy the ride. But from what I got, it had some fine action, good performances, and some cool visuals. But those visuals can lead something that appears epic, but ultimately feels weightless overall.