James Wan is at the helm of the new DC film Aquaman, which stars Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard and Nicole Kidman. It is the follow up to Justice League and all the movies that came before it.
First up, I’m a huge fan of James Wan when it comes to horror. I loved both of The Conjuring movies and the first Saw is iconic and I was curious to see what he could do with a giant blockbuster like this. While Aquaman is a lot of fun, it does have a lot of problems, script and character wise and it doesn’t push the genre forward like Black Panther and Infinity War did earlier this year.
Let’s start with the positives. Jason Mamoa is great as a Aquaman (Arthur Curry). He embraces the movie’s cheesiness and goes all out in the action scenes. He’s a hero we can get behind and he was the perfect choice for Aquaman.
Amber Heard is good in the film as well. She’s a strong female character and she’s got a decent amount of chemistry with Mamoa. While their relationship could have been improved and there are some cheesy moments, it wasn’t cringe-worthy.
Nicole Kidman was great as Aquaman’s mother and while we don’t see her a lot, she’s extremely important to the plot of the movie. Temuera Morrison (yes, Jango Fett from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) plays Aquaman’s father and Nicole Kidman’s love interest. His relationship with Kidman was well developed and meaningful, be it, a bit cheesy. The CGI de-aging of Morrison was also very poorly done in the beginning; you could tell it was fake.
William Dafeo is also really good as Arthur Curry’s trainer and mentor, and all of their scenes together I loved. The training montages we’re really well done and entertaining.
Patrick Wilson is a fantastic actor, but here he’s wasted as Ocean Master. He’s always surrounded with CGI, so it’s hard for him to actually act and the role isn’t meaty and enough for him to delve into. I wish that this movie could have concentrated more on Black Manta as the villain and Ocean Master in the second film. As it stands it does feel a bit bloated.
The movie looks great. Wan immerses in this world and the colors are vibrant, the textures and the landscapes of Atlantis is something amazing to behold. It feels a lot like Tron and Avatar and that’s not a bad thing.
The movie is very light in tone and it never takes itself seriously, and for an Aquaman movie that’s a good thing. It’s impossible to take seriously, it’s a rather ridiculous character and James Wan and Warner Brothers know it so they don’t try and do The Dark Knight. The movie is more in tone with Wonder Woman and Justice League and you can tell that they are heading towards lighter and more hopeful DCU than what Zack Snyder was setting up with his first three movies.
As for the negatives, the movie is too long. It could have been half an hour shorter and it wouldn’t have dragged as much. Arthur Curry could have used much more set up in the beginning. It’s a fairly simple set up and one that we’ve seen a thousand times, which is what this movie is. It’s a mesh-mash of other films (The Lord of the Rings, Tron, Avatar, Indiana Jones, all together in one. This movie lacks originality and while it’s fine since a lot of movies do, this one particularly struck me as uninspired.
It’s also a bit messy and the plot kind of goes all over the place. They introduce Black Mantha, which is fine, but he doesn’t do much and it’s kind of obvious that he’s only there for his standalone film or the future Suicide Squad films. The story also takes shifts from place to place rather quickly, almost to a ratchet speed. It changes from location to location which makes the plot a bit unfocused.
And without spoiling, the movie ends really abruptly. It feels almost anticlimactic, which was disappointing.
Overall, Aquaman is an entertaining time at the movies. It looks nice, has a great production design and all the actors do a fine job even though the movie is too long and it is a mesh-mash of other films and doesn’t bring anything new to the table to the superhero genre.