Updated: Dec 22, 2018
Since 2013 Warner Bros has taken DC Comics in a new direction with their movies as they seek create a cinematic universe of their very own. So far the DC Films (or the DC Extended Universe) has had five films to its name but the new franchise has been, more or less, met with criticism-both sensical and a bit ridiculous. Personally I have enjoyed the DC Films as, despite some issues, the films have ranged from enjoyable, different, solid and down right underrated. I realize this not a popular statement to make but that is the curse of having my own opinion. Be that as it may, despite the setbacks this cinematic universe presses on with its next film in the series: Aquaman. Directed by James Wan Aquaman centers on the iconic hero known for talking to fish. The character made his official debut in last year’s Justice League but now the hero sets out on his own; but the question is does Aquaman sink or swim? Seeing the film for myself I can safely say that Aquaman does not just swim but rides the cinematic ocean with the greatest of ease.
The story centers on Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) who finds himself on a quest to save the world from his half brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) and take his rightful place as the King of Atlantis. The story of Aquaman is as much as origin story as it was a swashbuckling adventure-and I loved every minute of it. While the plot does use some typical tropes seen in the hero’s journey of Arthur Curry, it was how the movie went about delivering these elements that made all the difference. This sense of delivery was also seen in subplots such as the story of Black Manta(Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) which played an important role in the overall story despite its minimal presence. The story also created an investing world in the underwater kingdoms as they were an intriguing element that I would love to see more of. Cementing this plot was none other than its adventurous aspects which kept me invested from beginning to end. With its keen presentation and fantastic sense of pacing this superhero plot was a definitive adventure that managed to make standard elements of both the superhero and adventure genre refreshing to see.
When it comes to Aquaman Jason Momoa was not the actor I would have seen portray the character, but I am glad that he did. Arthur Curry may have looked like a typical action hero, but beneath that was a solid character whose journey of self discovery was understandable and relatable to a certain degree; and Jason Momoa’s performance who brought a lot of life to the iconic hero. Along with this fantastic role was a solid performance from Amber Heard as Mera. At the start Mera could be a little underwhelming, but as the movie progressed the character showed her merit as Mera being a “fish out of water” showed a practical side to the heroine; and her chemistry with Momoa’s Arthur was rather practical making them an enjoyable duo. However a superhero is only as good as his villain, and in this case the likes of Ocean Master and Black Manta were indeed worthy rogues. Orm may have been pretty standard in his motivations but the performance from Patrick Wilson shined through as it gave the villainous king a thorough complexity that I not seen before in previous incarnations. While Black Manta may have played second fiddle to Ocean Master that did not stop him from stealing the spotlight as the character had my attention every time he was on screen. The movie also featured wonderful supporting performances from the likes of William Dafoe, Temura Morrison, Dolph Ludgrin and Nicole Kidman, and this only added to this ensemble worthy of any superhero film and blockbusters for that matter.
Given the film’s subject matter it was no surprise that Aquaman would be an ocean of visual effects. When it came to its spectacle this movie was quite appealing to see, although there were some parts could have looked better. Helping the visuals out was the vibrant cinematography by Don Burgess which was solid in aspects such as use of colors and camerwork. The was evident in the action which was nothing short of impressive as the camerawork helped to create fantastic sequences that were drenched in innovation. The music by Rupert Gregson-Williams was also a highlight as his music was not only thematic but featured dynamic sounds that only enriched the adventure behind this movie. When it came down to it these aspects were effective due to James Wan’s impeccable direction. Although some of those directions, such as the film’s editing, could be ambitious in their delivery to the point where it could be off putting-but this hardly harmed the movie’s presentation.
While I hoped for the best, Aquaman managed to blow my expectations out of the water. From its engaging story to its fantastic characters this film was everything that a blockbuster should be and a little more. Not only is Aquaman a triumphant addition to the DCEU but this movie is one that I must take my hat off to as it is easily the best superhero film of the year and among the best of 2018.