Aquaman (2018)

Movie Title: Aquaman

Year Released: 2018

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2h 22min

Genre: Superhero, Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Director: James Wan

Writer: Geoff Johns, James Wan, Will Beall

Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison

Review: Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm (Patrick Wilson). With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people -- and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Orm's half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko (Willem Dafoe), Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.

The oft-criticized DC Extended Universe delivers a strong entry into their universe with the debut of Aquaman. I really enjoyed this movie for a multitude of reasons, but it certainly had its faults as well. Let's start with the good. This movie had incredibly elaborate underwater visuals. Some may say too elaborate, but I must admit, this is exactly what I wanted. The underwater scenes were beautiful and fun to experience on the big screen. If Jason Momoa commanding a fish army, Amber Heard shooting bubble beams out of her arms, and Dolph Lundgren riding around on a giant seahorse doesn't even slightly intrigue you, then I don't know what will. Momoa does a great job portraying our titular hero, and there's an innate sense of humor that translates well to his character. I think he was a real bright spot, and a great casting choice as he certainly looks the part of an underwater superhero. At the end of the day, I found this movie very entertaining despite some of it's obvious deficiencies in terms of dialogue and plot development.

On the negative side, I thought the movie dragged at times, and was perhaps too long. A secondary villain was introduced, and there was an entire scene establishing this character and his reasoning behind his vendetta with Aquaman. Why not save this for another movie or the inevitable sequel? King Orm's motivations for wanting to initiate war on the surface world are also unclear and feel rushed. It's almost as if we are introduced to Orm, and then get a general sense that he's a bad guy because, well, every superhero needs a villain. This seems like another instance of the DCEU having substandard villains. Orm could have seemingly been an interesting villain had the writers fleshed out his character and given us some kind of backstory between he and Aquaman outside of a couple of duels that were all too predictable.

Despite these problems, I think this is a big improvement from some of DCEU's previous failures. This movie was fun, like an underwater Avatar complete with an exhilarating adventure story. Some plot issues aside, I think this movie is wildly imaginative, and a step in the right direction for the DCEU. I think there's a lot to be enjoyed here and I highly recommend giving it a chance!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Jason Momoa specifically requested Temuera Morrison for the role of Arthur's father, Tom. Morrison is one of Momoa's acting idols.


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