Aquaman is a gorgeous fun adventure establishing a fascinating new world that only gets dragged down by the typical superhero origin story tropes.
Score: 4 / 5
Up to this point the Warner Brothers / DC response to the MCU has been a mess. With the exception of Man of Steel and Wonder Woman, each entry has felt so reactionary and muddled from too many cooks in the kitchen. Aquaman, thankfully, is nothing like that later camp. In fact At this point, it’s probably my favorite entry in this DC movie-verse.
I think the key to this movie is that it’s fun and understands that underwater super suit soldiers riding sharks and massive seahorses is ridiculous. So it doesn’t shy away from that and embraces the fantasy. Sure at points it gets a little too goofy for its own good, but overall it has a clear tone that it sticks too.
Jason Momoa and Amber Heard shine as Arthur and Mera. If there is one thing I want more of in Aquaman 2 is more Momoa sarcasm. His pointing out obvious brash answers to problems always landed for me. Up to this point I haven’t really seen too much of Amber Heard’s work but I thoroughly enjoyed what she brought to Mera. Granted this character could use more opportunity to shine and not follow common superhero movie tropes but there is potential to really knock out a strong female heroine in the sequel.
On the villain side of things Patrick Wilson sure does play bad guy. I was actually pretty fascinated that when he is not playing mustache twirling evil brother that he had some fair motivations and many of his scenes carried a more Game of Thrones style plot. I liked getting some of those antiquated politics of the Atlantis empire. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Manta on the other hand is tad more one note. He’s a pirate. He hates Aquaman (even before he has a good reason to). That said the action set piece involving his full on Black Manta suit later in the film is pretty great. There were some fun long running shots that I appreciated.
Plot wise the film is a little superhero origin formulaic but is wrapped around a fun adventure, a Game of Thrones lite subplot, and amazing world building. It’s clear director James Wan had a blast creating this new world and establishing everything that is Aquaman. He’s turned the bottom of the sea into a new Star Wars or Harry Potter. As I’ve said previously the foundation in place could lead to some really fun future films.
The last piece that I feel important to note on is them visuals. This is a movie that begs to be seen on the big screen. The visual effects are top notch, and it’s a blast watching the best space battle (underwater) in the last five to ten years. Star Wars Episode IX please look at this as the bar you need to raise.