The sixth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and directed by James Wan, Aquaman tells the origin story of Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), the human-born heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, who goes on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land. It’s a journey that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be – a king – replacing his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson), who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.
The DCEU films haven’t been great so far but they have shared some good qualities and the standalone films seem to work much better. If there was one instalment that they wanted to get right, it was undoubtedly the one with Jason Momoa in it, as he alone was certain to bring in a crowd.
Aquaman definitely stands out as one of the better instalments in the DCEU so far. The script and dialogue aren’t particularly memorable with many of the lines being cheesy rather than funny, but the visuals are stunning. Set largely underwater, the settings, technologies, creatures, and the effects of the action and fight scenes are all of great quality, but the plot is also one that will keep you interested.
It’s always exciting when a superhero film can introduce us to a new world so there’s a lot to enjoy about this film and for director James Wan to be inspired by. This also allowed him to take the film in its own direction which is what this film really needed, as it is a story that was difficult to take too seriously, but Wan’s individual style suits this story really well. It’s slightly formulaic but it’s fast-paced and the characters are developed well, so it’s just as fun and entertaining as you would want a comic book summer blockbuster to be.
The problem I’ve had with most films in the DCEU so far has been the inclusion of a weakly developed and poorly crafted villain, but Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is great as Manta. He doesn’t take over the film at any point and is only the focus for as long as necessary, so his character has the right balance to work in the subplot whilst not getting in the way of the development of the story overall. Plus, the appearance of his villainous alter-ego looks pretty decent which always helps.
Of course, a lot of the film’s success is down to Momoa. It’s hard to deny that he’s mesmerising to look at, but he’s also an actor that many of us have been intrigued by since his appearance in Game of Thrones (and he’s an all-round nice guy with a beautiful family!). He takes on the role of Aquaman brilliantly and his charisma is contagious, so I couldn’t think of a better actor to take the role on.
And whilst many of us will watch this just to see a bit of Momoa ripping his shirt off, you will also be impressed by the supporting cast. It was a great choice to cast Nicole Kidman as the Queen of Atlantis, although we don’t get to see enough of her, but Amber Heard’s strong female support certainly makes up for it. Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, and Dolph Lundgren are all brilliant, too, and it’s certainly a world that I’d like to dive back into soon.
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