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So with these characters having set such a high bar for heroes, what depths do they go to in order to restore some credibility and win back the fans? Aquaman. Over the years, the guy who carried a trident, communed with fish and was pretty much useless on land has been one of the most ridiculed superheroes ever.
A hero reborn
However, thanks to the DC’s ‘Rebirth’ series, Aquaman has had a bit of a makeover. He is now the head of the nation of Atlantis, which is kind of like the DC version of Wakanda, but with water, and fish people and stuff.
Director James Wan’s version of the character continues this rebirth, and while you can’t right the wrongs of some of the other DC movies, Aquaman is definitely a step in a more positive direction. I mean, if there’s one character that you can have fun with in the DC Universe, it’s this guy right? You know, from the bottom of the ocean, the only place to go is up.
And up he goes, all the way to the top of the holiday box office!
So what we’ve got here is an audacious, popcorn movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and doesn’t pay too much attention to the stuff that has gone before.
What’s it about?
The movie takes place after the events of Justice League but also tells of the origin of Aquaman. And it goes a little something like this: Atlanna, the Queen of Atlantis is found beached by a lighthouse keeper who nurses her back to health, gets her knocked up and they become the proud parents of Aquaman, or Arthur to his family. It turns out that Atlanna was escaping an arranged marriage before she got her land legs and has to return to Atlantis to save Arthur and his dad from the wrath of her underwater husband.
Over time Arthur discovers his powers thanks to Vulko, an Atlantean who keeps tabs on him at his mothers behest. He sticks around with his landlubber dad to avoid the repercussions of being the Queen’s bastard son in Atlantis.
Fast forward to present day, Arthur’s half brother King Orm is now in charge of Atlantis and is hatching a plot to unite all the forces of the seven seas and declare war on the surface. Orm’s arranged wife Mera isn’t too keen on this idea, goes behind Orm’s back and persuades Arthur to come back to Atlantis and challenge his half brother for the throne.
And away we go.
Who’s in it?
Jason Momoa as an actor doesn’t have that much range but he’s perfect as Aquaman and you can tell the he is having a lot of fun with this role. I could hear all the girls in the cinema swoon every time he did that thing where he looks back over his shoulder, he does it a lot, so mission accomplished there. He’s supported by a really strong cast who pull him through, rarely leaving him to his own devices for long enough for anyone to see his limitations. Amber Heard is great as Mera. Willem Dafoe is surprisingly decent as Vulko. Patrick Wilson is great as King Orm. Dolph Lundgren is pretty good as King Nereus. Yayha Abdul Mateen II is ok as Manta. Nicole Kidman is perfectly cast as Queen Atlanna and Temuera Morrison is excellent as Aquaman’s dad, Tom Curry.
It’s a long movie, so don’t order the large cola because at 2 hours and 23 minutes, you’ll end up having to hold back your own tide.
Even though it covers a lot of different locations and action pieces the plot is surprisingly shallow and there is a tonne of CGI, which is exhausting. This is especially the case during fight sequences where the terrible physics make everything look like a video game cut scene. However, if you always wanted to see an octopus play the drums, here’s your chance.
The worst part of the visual effects brought back memories of Superman’s top lip in the form of animated hair. An effect they’ve clearly employed to reinforce the fact that people are underwater. It almost works but ends up looking weird. With hairstyles like that, who needs anenomes…
Amongst all the silliness though, there are some really cool creatures and costumes.
James Wan knows how to handle big dumb action but I think Aquaman is his most ambitious film yet. For the most part it succeeds, I mean, it’s Aquaman right? It’s not like he’s trying to make a Batman or Superman movie. He’s working their poor cousin. Having said that, he does manage to make the character look like the coolest, and toughest member of the Justice League, even when he does break out the old costume, which kind of resembles a pineapple from the bottom of the sea.
If you liked the high camp 80’s hero movie Flash Gordon, you’ll probably dig this too. Although unlike Flash Gordon, Aquaman has a terrible soundtrack—that included some very questionable pop music, complete with a horrible appropriation of Toto’s Africa mixed in with something that sounded like a Vangelis cover band—I can only assume that that’s what he was going for. Splash Gordon.
Aquaman is like swimming in chlorinated water, it’s really clean, well maintained, you wont pick up anything nasty and in the moment you’ll have a lot of fun. But jeez it can hurt your eyes afterwards.