Universe: Worlds of DC (unofficially known as the DC Extended Universe).
Director: James Wan.
Screenplay: David Leslie, Johnson-McGoldrick & Will Beall.
Story: Geoff Johns, James Wan & Will Beall.
Release Date: 2018.
Runtime: 143 min.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science-Fiction.
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and many more!
Opening Weekend: $72,573,522.
Box Office: $1,037,906,848.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10).
Also in the Worlds of DC:
Man of Steel (2013)
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition (2016)
Suicide Squad Extended Cut (2016)
Wonder Woman (2017)
The latest movie in the Worlds of DC is now in theaters and James Wan looks to show the world that movies under the DC Comics and Warner Bros umbrella are still relevant in a universe where Marvel and Disney has set the standards for superhero movies. With each new movie released by DC, controversy surges from the depths of the ocean to pervade the mind of viewers before even giving these movies a chance, but Aquaman looks to take on a whole different tone to deliver a fun and chaotic movie that captures the hearts of fans by bringing to life the colourful and fantastic creatures within the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. With Jason Momoa, known for his role as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones, reprising his role as Aquaman after his appearances in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), this movie aims to turn a character that was once a joke within the DC Universe into a relevant, charming and powerful hero for the world to love and cherish from here on out.
What is Aquaman (2018) about? The story follows Arthur Curry, also known as Aquaman, the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, as he is called upon to embrace his kingship and take the mantle from his ill-intended half-brother Orm, played by Patrick Wilson. Taking place a year after the events in Justice League (2017) with Steppenwolf’s invasion, Arthur Curry continues to scout the sea for trouble and parties hard during his free time. The movie is also interspersed with flashback sequences to cover his origin story as the son of a lighthouse keeper played by Temuera Morrison and of the princess of Atlantis played by Nicole Kidman, as well as the apprentice of queen Atlanna’s loyal advisor Nuidis Vulko played by Willem Dafoe. As Orm looks to wage war against those of the surface world by reuniting the seven underwater kingdoms, Arthur Curry finds himself tossed on an identity quest to further understand his place in the world.
While there are a lot of flaws in this movie, it also has a lot of great elements that quickly brings the viewers to overlook most of its issues. The plot and dialogue deserves a quick mention as they are not only predictable, they are also riddled with cringeworthy moments and forced humour. That being said, it is not entirely comprised of such writing as Jason Momoa and Amber Heard were still able to convey some solid performances and lines despite the material they were given. The lighter tone that severely distinguishes itself from Zach Snyder’s much more grittier take on the DC Universe is however greatly appreciated by a lot of fans, although I do personally prefer Snyder’s unique visionary take on his movies, especially with the dose of realism that he injects in his heroes. James Wan however prefers a simpler and easier-to-relate-to angle with his first superhero project and it is indeed a refreshing take, without being redundant with what has already been seen so far in other superhero movies.
The villains were intriguing in their core motives, but the emphasis wasn’t properly put on them to fully accentuate their threat or their mere presence. With Black Manta making his live-action debut, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, it was easy to see how much potential was lost with the character being given some of the cheesiest lines ever, as well as one of the simplest sub-plot that could have been presented. In fact, his character was easily overshadowed by the much more crucial role played by Patrick Wilson. Indeed, Orm remains the much more predominant figure that opposes Aquaman, yet his conquest remains straightforward and simple as the story progresses. Unfortunately, his character felt more like a catalyst to Arthur Curry’s character development rather than a character in itself that can be fully understood—without agreeing with his methods—in what he wants to achieve for Atlantis.
Where this movie truly strives in is in the visuals with what might have been James Wan most brilliant directorial decision. With Aquaman’s character, the world-building is crucial to fully embrace his lore especially with the dark corners of the ocean and all of its mystical underwater creatures that lurk around without ever crossing paths with the Earth dwellers. In Aquaman (2016), the visuals takes fans by surprise with incredible colours, detailed CGI effects and powerful slow-motion artistic sequences. In fact, some of the scenes are shot with the epic scope of capturing the vast, bizarre and convoluted nature of the sea. These sequences are truly mesmerizing, especially those taking place in the infamous Trench as they show the horrors of the sea in a majestic and beautiful frame. However, I would not suggest going in thinking that there is a certain control on how all of it is brought to life as the whole direction taken clearly indicates that extravagance and overabundance was the key to capturing the soul of the sea. And it worked.
As the world continues to draw comparisons between this movie and Marvel’s beloved filmography, it is worth mentioning that it is indeed possible to spot similarities in several categories but doesn’t necessarily need to be seen as an inability of DC Comics and Warner Bros to find its own personality in the superhero movie industry. In fact, the plot in itself is somewhat similar to what has been seen in Black Panther (2018), but Aquaman (2018) is based on a comic book story by Geoff Johns back in 2013. It is also possible to see the influence of Thor: Ragnarok (2017) in terms of visuals with the slow motion painting-like scenes, but also with the amount of humour thoroughly incorporated throughout the movie. It is however safe to say that Thor: Ragnarok (2017) still greatly beats Aquaman (2018) in humour with its saturating use of it to literally turn threats into jokes. It is unfortunate that DC hasn’t yet found a formula—which isn’t a bad thing in itself since a formula can be lackluster once identified—and that they are looking to brighten up their universe with their upcoming movies. Even if there is no recognizable long-term plan in their slate of movies to come, I still look forward to everything they plan on surprising the world with.
Aquaman (2018) is a visually-stunning comic book superhero movie that plunges head first in the epic scale action while occasional flailing in its story-telling abilities.
Aquaman (2018) is based on Geoff Johns’ Aquaman: Throne of Atlantis comic book story arc.
P.S. There’s one mid-credit scene worth sticking around for!
Have you read any Aquaman comics?
Have you seen Aquaman (2018)? What did you think about it?
Share your thoughts with me!