“Aquaman” Review: Stands Out in a Sea of Superhero Films
Jason Momoa stars as Aquaman as he finally gets his stand-alone film. The film, directed by James Wan, tells the story of Arthur Curry/ Aquaman and how he comes to realize his full potential. Part man and part Atlantan, he is torn between two worlds. When Mera (Amber Heard) comes to his home to recruit him to help stop Orm (Patrick Wilson) from waging war on the surface, Arthur is pulled into the world of Atlantis and must fight for his place as the true king, despite him being considered a half breed. An attempt to overthrown Orm would mean that Arthur has to prove his worth, and he can only do that by obtaining the trident long since lost to the seas. Setting out on this impossible journey, he must fight the dangers of the sea, Orm’s followers, and a particularly pissed off human, David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
Aquaman is crazy, over the top fun! It is a perfect balance of cheesy humor and fantastically shot and choreographed action. Jason Momoa has a lot of fun with the character, and while at first, the humor seems a bit campy, it quickly grows on you as he charms his way into your heart. He is a fresh take on the superhero we are so accustomed to seeing on screen. He is not overly heroic or eloquent, but rather full of energy, sarcasm, and just looks to do what is right in the world. He doesn’t seek to be over romanticized and in this film, he isn’t. While there are moments where he is in the spotlight, and the typical heroic scenes do occur, he is shown as more human than other heroes before him. Jason Momoa is the perfect casting choice for the film and brings the exact amount of brute force and charisma to the character. Amber Heard is spectacular in a career-best performance. She brings the intelligence and wit to the film and is the ideal companion for Arthur. Willem Dafoe gives a decent performance as Vulko playing the character well. While I can’t get into too much of what Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character does and doesn’t do, suffice it to say that he is hugely entertaining and provides another deeper level to the story.
James Wan shows his skill and eye as a director and puts his mark on Aquaman in a big way. There are scenes in the film that are stunning, and the creativity with which Wan created this film is just remarkable. There is a scene in the film where Arthur and Mera must fight through a bunch of creatures by using a flare light, as they travel to the depths of the ocean, they are surrounded by these creatures. The visual impact that the scene creates is just unbelievable and so visually stunning, it reminds you how much of an art filmmaking actually is. The fight scenes in the film are choreographed spectacularly, but they up the ante in ways you don’t expect. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop and bouncing through walls is just the tip of the iceberg. Wan is not shy in playing with the camera and twisting the camera angles giving us a new and intensely immersive perspective on the battle. The final battle scene at the end of the film will leave you speechless. There are some parts of the film that feel very 80s between the laser lights and the music, it feels like a nod to stories like Ready Player One and Tron.
Everything visually in the film hits the mark and exceeded my expectations including the costume design. The outfits are so intricately created, especially those worn by Mera. From her ornate headpieces to the skin-tight golden coral body suit she wears, everything is impeccable. Arthur and Orm’s battle armor is incredibly well done with a nod to the ocean life that surrounds them. Each detail is taken into account and made to perfectly reflect this world that James Wan has worked so hard to create.
While there is a lot that I loved about this film, I will say that at first, the campy and corny nature of the dialogue is a little distracting and may prove challenging to get past for some people. Given that the film is also very CGI heavy, that may be distracting for some, but not too much so to distract from the rest of the good in the film.
Aquaman is the ultimate superhero movie experience that begs to be seen in the biggest theater possible. From the sound to the stunning visuals, the big theater is the best way to see this film. It is a blast from start to finish and provides another fantastic addition to the DC Universe. James Wan has created something that feels fresh and new in a genre that is beginning to feel very tired and formulaic.