By all accounts, an Aquaman movie shouldn’t work. The King of Atlantis has always been a punchline in the DC Universe, and they knew that. That’s why when it was time to introduce an Aquaman for their cinematic universe, they chose Khal Drogo himself, Jason Mamoa, to be the underwater crusader of the seas. While the Justice League movie gave him a significant amount of screen time, it was inevitable for a whole movie to be made on Arthur Curry.
And for the most part, it works. James Wan and team truly did a pretty good job in making the film cohesive and overall fun. For starters, it was definitely better than the tonally deaf Justice League movie which was a rushed job with a troubled development, and thankfully Aquaman didn’t fall into the same pitfalls as its predecessor.
Story-wise, the film has a lot to introduce to the audience. From the origins of Aquaman and Atlantis’, and all sorts of Atlantean legends while trying to balance with the actual plot of the movie. James Wan had a lot to work with and he definitely made it work. Loosely based on the Throne Of Atlantis storyline from the Aquaman comics, the movie centers on Arthur Curry’s half-brother, Orm, waging war on the surface world. The only way to stop him is for Aquaman to take the throne and save the world. Not the most complicated of plots, and it definitely drew comparisons with Marvel’s Black Panther, which had a similar storyline as well.
Visually the film is stunning, while DC movies are usually devoid of colour, James Wan truly filled the underwater seascapes with tons of colour. Almost like The Little Mermaid, actually a LOT like the Disney classic. There’s even an octopus playing the drums in one of the scenes. But yeah, it’s definitely a treat for the eyes as the underwater scenes are unlike any other movie. Even the underwater combat looks a lot like Dragon Ball at times, with the characters flying (or swimming, rather) around when they fight. All in all the fighting scenes in this film are just awesome with sweeping shots, no cuts in between, and great choreography. The fight in the middle of the movie between Aquaman, Mera, and Black Manta is definitely a highlight.
What may hold the movie back a little is the over bloated lore dump and exposition that the film needs to give for the audience to get them up to speed to the plot. Jumping around from Aquaman’s origins, plotting out Black Manta’s motives, show off how evil Orm is, introducing Atlantis’ origin, and a whole lot more than you’re going to need to know to understand the movie as a whole. And because of that, you get a film that sort of does a little too much in over 2 hours. So it might be a bit of a slog for most to go through.
Overall, Aquaman is fun and spectacular film, even if its a bit bloated and by-the-numbers. It’s definitely the best DC film, but that’s probably a low bar to clear. Do catch it while you can, you’re definitely in for a good time.