Aquaman, directed by James Wan & starring Jason Momoa is one of those films which would seem very risky to make. With one of pop culture’s most ridiculed superheroes leading it, and a surrounding world which seems too crazy to visualize on screen, who in their right mind would take charge of this project? Why you call upon the very talented James Wan of course. The guy who directed the Conjuring & Furious 7 might look like an odd pick, but it plays to the film’s biggest strengths. It combines the adrenaline-fueled rush of seeing an action scene from Furious 7 & the dread of exploring the unknown from the Conjuring perfectly, & in doing so gives us just the glimmer of hope we’ve been looking for for the DC films universe.
Let’s just start from that, shall we? Aquaman‘s biggest strength lies in the visual design behind it. To realize a whole new world set in the deep dark of the ocean is no mean feat, rivaling those of Wakanda (I know, different franchise) itself. Atlantis is everything a fan of the comics would dream of. The production design on display here is breathtaking, along with a subtle sound design. Sure, people talking underwater may seem weird, but it is a comic book movie, and it sure does make it look and sound realistic. It does take some getting used to, but once you do, it fits in well.
With all that praise, it’s sad to see some slightly weak writing guiding it. While the film does a lot to differentiate itself from others in the same genre structurally, it does fall in the cringe zone when it comes to dialogues. Clichéd tropes don’t help either, and I really wish it wasn’t the case as these are the only things stopping the film from reaching immeasurable heights.
Jason Momoa is a likable protagonist. Is he great at acting? Probably not. Is it cool to see him kick ass? Absolutely. While many were worried about his casting at the time, it’s clear by now that DC is taking the character in a completely new direction as compared to his comic book counterpart. The whole macho man vibe is thankfully toned down for his solo film from Justice League, all for the better. It’s finally safe to say that seeing Arthur Curry move forward in the DC universe is gonna be exciting.
Supporting him are Amber Heard as Mera, Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna & Willem Dafoe as Vulko. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Damn, that’s a pretty good cast”, and you’re right. All of them do justice (no pun intended) to their roles, Dafoe in particular. Heard is just as badass as she was in Justice League, and her relationship with Momoa’s Arthur is expanded further. Kidman does a decent job with the small amount of screentime she’s offered, however it would have been better to see her work with some less cheesy dialogues.
On the opposing side, we get Patrick Wilson as Arthur’s half-brother Orm, better known by comic book fans as Ocean Master, & Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta. For a movie of this scope, it’s surprising to see it actually dedicate enough time to its antagonists in order to develop them. Black Manta
With Aquaman, director James Wants delivers an enthralling adventure that’s sure to win DC much of it’s long gone fan base back. It only gets better from here.