With the success of Marvel Studios’ blockbuster films Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, DC and Warner Brothers Studios took a gamble with Aquaman and gave fans a fun action movie that is among the best that DC’s cinematic division has offered to date.
Before I delve into this review, I must confess that I absolutely hate the Aquaman character. I’ve never been a fan, despite the characters emergence as an integral part of the Justice League and the entire DC Universe. I just could never connect with Arthur Curry or the Atlantean setting. Having said this, I will approach this review with a subjective view rather than my personal bias.
As seen with this year’s other comic book movies, the story is a key element to a film’s success. Luckily, Aquaman benefitted from having longtime comic writer Geoff Johns as a collaborator, which allowed his fellow screenwriters to draw from John’s extensive knowledge of the character’s origin and history. Certain thematic elements were directly pulled from John’s run on Aquaman, which helped provide context and backstory for viewers. Though I felt that certain flashback scenes disrupted the pace of the movie, especially when sandwiched between big action sequences and fight scenes, those instances were absolutely necessary in maintaining the audience’s understanding of this character.
Speaking of action sequences, director James Wan was the perfect choice to bring this movie onto the big screen. This film is a visual masterpiece and should be considered amongst cinema’s most visually striking and beautiful films. The color palette that Wan used during the underwater scenes really gave me the feeling of being submerged hundreds of leagues underwater. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Aquaman should be nominated for several awards for visual effects and costume design.
Though audiences were introduced to Jason Momoa as the Aquaman in the Justice League film, he embodies the role and gives fans a well rounded character wrought with conflict and charisma. Momoa’s acting skills aren’t on the same caliber as his co-stars Willem Dafoe and Patrick Wilson, he gives a formerly drab character a dominant and commanding presence. The highlight of the film though is Wilson’s portrayal of Arthur Curry’s half brother Orm, also known as Ocean Master. Wilson gives the performance of his career as the maniacal Ocean Master in his quest to unite the Seven Kingdoms of Atlantis in his pursuit of the throne and eventual war with the surface. It can be argued that Wilson’s portrayal as Ocean Master is what sets this DC film apart from its predecessors. Wilson steals the spotlight from Momoa during their fight scenes, giving each encounter an immense amount of emotion. Much like Game of Thrones’, Wilson’s Ocean Master is obsessed with becoming a king and his pursuit of that power serves as the perfect platform to showcase Momoa’s transition from reluctant superhuman into a superhero.
Verdict – 8/10 – Aquaman is exactly the fun, action packed film that DC needed to compete with Marvel. Coupled with Wonder Woman and the upcoming Shazam, Aquaman serves as a prime example of DC’s transition from the dark, morose tone of Zack Snyder’s DC universe. And though I still am not of fan of Aquaman, I expect that this film will boost Aquaman’s popularity amongst the DC comics roster.