What happens when a princess hates the man she is expected to marry and seeks comfort and refuge in the arms of a commoner? Well chances are the royal family will arrange a car “accident” but enough about the British Monarchy, we’re here to talk about how the Princess of Atlantis shacked up with a light house keeper and had a son who would one day bridge the worlds of land and sea.(What a bridge it is)
Set about a year after the events of Justice League and with Aquaman now being a household name, Arthur decides to give this whole superhero thing a proper go. The first we see of him he is foiling the attempted hijacking of a submarine by a group of pirates, which he does with ease. This was a great introductory scene as it showcases Aquaman’s power by having the pirates engage him with various weapons including a grenade launcher, all of which he shrugs off.
Not long after we get a glimpse of the Atlanteans and it would seem that they’re pissed off at us, all because humans have done a little toxic dumping in their home…..and a touch of pollution over the last 100 years or so, Jesus guys take a joke. Naturally they decide enough is enough and declare war on the surface world, but the world leaders ignore it because they don’t believe in Atlantis. Sure, Alien Gods, guys that can run faster than the speed of light and a woman straight out of Greek myth are all fine and dandy but people who can breathe under water is where you draw the line. But it seems that not all Atlanteans are on board with the whole “destroy the surface world plan”, chief among them Mera princess of Xebel. She believes that war can be avoided if Arthur seeks the Trident of Atlan and takes his rightful place as King of Atlantis, but no pressure.
It’s great to see DC finally write a fun, light-hearted and most importantly self-contained story. Aquaman isn’t tripping over itself to connect to a previous film or setup plot points for a future Justice League movie, no, it’s here to tell its own story and by Poseidon does it do that well. I saw one arsehole say “It can’t decide if it wants to be silly or serious” (remember to say that part in a whiney self-important voice). But I ask “why does it have to be one or the other?” for me Aquaman as a movie is like Aquaman the character, the best of both worlds. It knows how to have a bit of fun but at the same time knows when it’s time to get serious. Aquaman has this irreverent sense of humour about it, as if it knows its premise is at heart a silly one and by leaning into that idea it avoids becoming the subject of mockery and instead is in on the joke.(Yes, those are shark mounts with lasers attached!)
Jason Momoa’s performance as Aquaman is a breath of fresh salt air in a sea (no I won’t stop with the water puns) of blank humourless DC characters. Momoa’s natural charm imbues Aquaman with a genuine likeability and sense of humanity that allows the audience to invest in the character and to the same extent the film. Momoa also has great chemistry with the rest of the cast particularly with Amber Heard who played Mera. Watching their on screen relationship blossom from aloof indifference to mutual respect with just a hint of romance was one of the more believable romances I have seen in films in a while.
Of course a hero is only as good as his/her villain and it seems that DC has finally cracked it when it comes to supervillains and no I don’t mean the very forgettable Black Manta. No for my money Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master is to date the best villain DC has cooked up, a dangerously calculating villain, with a single minded ruthlessness that makes him a force to be reckoned with.
The aesthetic of this movie was amazing, okay there were one or two instances of God awful CGI, like the horrible “make-me young” melty face thing on Aquaman’s dad, but other than that it was fantastic. It was a feast for the eyes; everything from the Atlantean weaponry/machinery to the different Atlantean species was visually distinct. It had this wonderful colourful neon vibe to it, like underwater Tron meets Thor: Ragnarok and I mean that in the best possible way. Even the classic Aquaman and Ocean Master costumes were awesome, cheesy as hell sure but wonderfully authentic, lending a beautiful comic book feel to the aesthetic.
I only really have one major criticism for Aquaman and that’s the music. Don’t get me wrong the score is fantastic; the orchestral music gave the film a sense of majesty and the synth-wave hammered home that 80’s vibe. No my issue is with the awful licensed music they had, it wasn’t Suicide Squad bad but it still sucked, I mean there is a scene in an African desert and they played a “cover” of Africa. Of course these are mere whingeing nit-picks and if that is all that I can muster complaint wise then Aquaman must be doing something right.
As a huge fan of all things DC I have found most of their movies flawed, yet entertaining to a degree, but Aquaman has giving me hope for the DC cinematic universe. A fun, light-hearted story that is full of action and spectacle, visually stunning with stellar performances from an incredibly talented cast, a must see for any comic book fan.