Ah DC, I find myself once again on your doorstep once again with another attempt to beat the competition. Before we got our first glimpse at Aquaman in the DCEU, I asked the same question I asked when the Wonder Woman film came out, what took so long? But unlike Wonder Woman, I had thought of an answer. If you look back at the early years of Aquaman, he wasn’t exactly the macho, badass he is today. There are no other words around it, he looks silly. Thankfully with an appearance change, the character has moulded into a hero we can all appreciate. Now Hollywood’s new all-around likeable guy Jason Momoa wields the trident and whilst the film is quite fun, it also very typical DCEU that thinks because the scenes look like a page from a comic book, it has the depth of a comic book.
But before we take a dive into yet another origin story, I first like to mention how much fun Jason Momoa is having as Arthur Curry. We saw that from Justice League but is here, in his own story, that we witness how easily likeable his character is. The Aquaman character is someone who embraces the silliness of his character, but at the same time, stops you from making fun of his silliness. You could argue that Jason Momoa carries the entire film and that may be true, but the continuation of likability I feel is a stronger force.
In a film genre that has grown accustomed to a dark, gritty take on a comic book story, it’s very refreshing to see a superhero film with a vibrant colour scheme. This is exactly what we get when we travel to the lost city of Atlantis. The world below the ocean is a firework display of a wide variety of colour which makes Aquaman stand out from the rest of the DCEU. What James Wan has envisioned is massive in scope, and if you are willing to put up with word detailing exposition, you are treated with stunning visuals.
What is even more stunning is the film’s finale with a giant underwater battlefield where everything we have been introduced to such as the colours, the sea creatures etc. are taken to a whole new level of epicness. The action in that battle sequence is doused with the ambition to capture as much detail as possible to the point where you can see every Atlantean soldier and every individual weapon being fired.
But for some of the reasons why I say this is the same as the other DCEU films is that it suffers from the same problem of choosing style over character. there is very minimal character development in Aquaman, but there is also a lot of well-choreographed action pieces. But while the action is well choreographed, it gets bland after a while all because of how they’re presented. Several action scenes are filmed in a circular dolly or Steadicam shot around the actors, it does get on your nerves after a while having to see the same shot repeated over and over again.
Something else that is repeated tirelessly is the unexpected explosion moment. You’ll have seen this is most film, the characters are talking exposition and suddenly an explosion happens off screen and knocks them over. It becomes so overused you can correctly guess when they’re going to happen and as a result becomes a very lazy way to transition from low-intensity to high-intensity scenes.
Despite the vision being there, I can’t help but think that James Wan at times was heavily restricted. If you’ve even looked at the filmography of James Wan, you see that he has become quite the visionary for modern horror, so you’d expect that he would bring some of his skills from one genre to another, but incredibly tamed. But you can tell that there is a little creative conflict from the film not knowing whether it is super silly or super serious. At moments you have political conflict in Aquaman’s brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) but then you’ll have a biker gang leader with a pink mobile phone asking for a picture, its all over place with its humour in what is already a common narrative that combines typical superhero story with a typical adventure story with a tiny bit of treasure hunting.
For a first-time film dedicated to Aquaman, I can’t thank them enough for bringing the character up to date where it can be enjoyed by everyone and not the devoted fanbase. But this film has the exact same problems as with every other DCEU film and there has to be a point where people working of these films have to consider the DCEU code as guidelines and not strict rules. Guidelines can be broken and maybe that’s what we need from these filmmakers. For a fun time, by all means, see Aquaman, I guarantee that you’ll have a blast with a film that has ocean-sized ambitions but doesn’t fully execute those ambitions.
Final Result: 5/10 – Average
Have you seen Aquaman? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Mary Poppins Returns