Aquaman (2018) Movie Review

 

details
Title: Aquaman.
Universe: Worlds of DC (unofficially known as the DC Extended Universe).
Rated: PG-13.
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!
Budget: $160,000,000.
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)

thoughts

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.


EXHIBITA

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!

lashaansignature

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64 comments

  • I never liked Ben Affleck as Batman, so I refused to watch those movies. However, this one is a DC movie that I can watch. I like Jason Momoa and I think he as Aquaman makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Momoa as Aquaman was the best part of otherwise cringeworthy Justice League, despite the wooden dialogue that plagued that DC movie. I’m not sure I’m going to like this lighter take, as I hated Thor: Ragnarok with a passion :P, so I guess I’ll wait to see Aquaman in my home theater 😉 Great review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welp. I sure can’t wait to put my review for JL next month. 😛 But I am 100% with you on Thor: Ragnarok. They killed that movie with humour for me. I mean… When the Hulk becomes a comedian… You can count me out. Thanks for reading, Ola!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Hmm, I wonder… maybe I’ll go and see the Aquaman, after all… but the new animated Spidey premieres soon, and is rumoured to be excellent, I will try to make time for both 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, if you want my most honest opinion, I’d recommend Into the Spiderverse over Aquaman. That animated movie is a game-changer for animated movies. It’s visually revolutionary. Like… It is bound to go down as something as legendary as Akira. 🙂 But do check out Aquaman someday, especially if you’re interested by the whole movie. Visuals won’t disappoint. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • You were right! Spiderverse is great. Script, music – superb. And visually, it is indeed revolutionary. I’ve had so much fun, and I hope they will follow this up with more. I’d love to watch a tv-series for each alternate Spidey!

        Liked by 1 person

        • It would indeed be pretty cool to get more out of the team behind the movie for all those characters. Did you stick around for the after-credit scene? Great stuff. I do hope Sony will look into creating more animated movies like this one. And it would be pretty amazing if this movie gets DC to make a theatrical release for some animated movies too (since most of their movies are straight-to-dvd), especially since DC’s animated movies are almost always above average. 😀 But man… Into the Spiderverse was quite a stunning surprise!

          P.S. I’d wait a little before watching Aquaman now though hahahah You’ll be baffled in terms of story-telling quality otherwise. 😛

          Liked by 1 person

          • I always stay as long as necessary to make sure I don’t miss anything 🙂 Recently, I’ve been dragged to see some non-genre movies, and I’m always disappointed that fancy European directors don’t do any post-credit scenes 😉
            This one was very cool, everybody – remember not to leave cinemas too early!

            Liked by 1 person

  • Sounds like this could have been a real standout if the writing had been better. I’m still looking forward to seeing the effects and the underwater world!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it would’ve been amazing with a better screenplay. I’d have maybe changed some actors as well since I’m not completely sold on some of their acting chops, but it’s no big deal. 😀 But the visuals is soooo worth discovering! 🙂

      Like

  • I basically agree with the film’s standing. It’s not amazing or anything, but it’s a fun watch and the visuals are quite nice. I’m hoping that the upcoming Shazam film also does well in the box office so DC can start expanding again and hopefully churning out a bunch of films like Marvel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! The visuals for the world-building is truly astonishing and actually saves this movie more than anything. I’m slightly skeptical about Shazam as its tone is completely different, and naturally humouristic, but I do hope it does well and that DC/Warner Bros finds their groove for all their movies soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Wonderful and well thought out review sir, I think you sum Aquaman up aptly with the words “fun” and “chaotic” as I’d say this is the best and easiest way to describe it!

    I had a lot of fun with Aquaman, it’s by no means one of the best of the genre or even of the DC films but it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a (here’s that word again) fun, occasionally cheesy ride. Totally agree that the script is a little predictable and the dialogue could’ve done with being beefed up a bit and Black Manta wasn’t the forceful adversary I’d hoped – but maybe that’ll be rectified in the next one.

    I was totally floored by the visuals (my draw dropped during that final battle) and it even gave Ragnarok a run for it’s money. The humour was fine, I could’ve done with a little less of it (Wonder Woman got the mix just right and was actually funny where it needed to be) but I didn’t find it to be overly goofy.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Shazam turns out but that’s likely to have a similarly light-hearted and humorous tone given the source material but I like Zachary Levi (Chuck Bartowski!) and I really like the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank New 52 story so fingers crossed. But, come on DC – get going on the Flash and gives us more Superman!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Chris. I believe your review does a much better job in eloquently summing up what Aquaman turned out to be though hahahah with that mid-credit scene, I do hope they give Black Manta a much more “clever villain” role than what we got too. I would’ve liked to see the Black Manta from Young Justice make an appearance, with a whole father-son thing too, but clearly the ideas are set on something else entirely.

      Yep, Aquaman had much more of those epic cinematic moments than Thor too! Those were indeed incredible to watch! I did wish that the whole Trench sequence was the tone that most of the movie would’ve adapted for this first Aquaman movie too, especially since the director is known for some heavily popular horror movies!

      I’m a bit skeptical about Shazam, but like you said, I think the fact that the source material already has that humourous tone to it will likely help the movie even more in delivering the right tone!

      Liked by 1 person

  • I DIDN’T KNOW MY DUDE DOLPH LUNDGREN WAS IN IT TOO!!! 😮 😮
    “predictable,” “cringeworthy moments,” “forced humour” << yes to all those. I rolled my eyes half the time and was tempted to walk out the other half, but Jason Momoa kept me in my seat until close to the end of the final battle scene when I couldn't stand it all anymore.
    Great review, Lashaan. Unfortunately, I didn't like much about the movie except the actors and the visuals. I HATED the whole romantic comedy part, which felt kind of random.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha loads of great actors are cast in this one! 😀 But unfortunately, the script isn’t as mind-blowing as the casting. 😛 It is however a super fun movie well-worth checking out. Just not something that might change your life forever. 😉

      Like

  • Being a big fan of DC movies I was really looking forward to this one, and was completely disappointed in it for all the the reasons you mentioned. I think they could have done a way better job with the script and the depth of characters. Thanks for the review it was spot on

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, I am truly happy to hear how much you relate to my review! I am a super HUGE DC fan as well and was saddened by this movie, especially with the insane pressure that these DC movies have thanks to Marvel’s fanbase. I do hope DC will not try and adapt Marvel’s movie formula for their upcoming movies and stick to delivering their own thing.

      Like

  • Personally I loved this movie, and after Wonder Woman it’s probably DCs next best movie. To me it was amazing and I watched it twice back to back. It wasn’t just the fight scenes that were good but I loved the emotion provoking dialogues and story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah I’m super glad to hear you loved it! There’s just too much hate for the DC movies in general. The original story on which the movie is based is even more explosive and epic but involves more heroes besides Aquaman and his friends/enemies. It would’ve been nice to see if they have respected even more of the source material. I’m still glad to hear you loved the emotions, dialogues and story! 😀

      Like

  • Gotta admit, I’m still struggling to drum up any excitement for this movie (does it surprise you though given my reaction to other DC movies lately? 😉 ) I do like Mamoa from GOT (obviously 😉 ) but am kinda put off by (yet another) predictable plot with (unsurprisingly) cringey humour. It’s good that the visuals worked so well, but I’m gonna be honest and say I doubt I’ll be watching this or any other DC live action movie any time soon :/ Awesome review though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Based on your thoughts on the previous movies, I don’t think this one would work any better to be honest. You’ll have to wait till DC puts an end to their “DCEU” and creates stand-alone movies (like that Joker movie) or reboots their cinematic universe. But at least, if you ever do watch this one, the visuals won’t disappoint. It’s chaotic beauty. But the rest… I don’t know… The “rom-com” vibes weren’t my cup of tea hahah

      Like

  • Aquaman is the best DCU movie so far. There’s nothing better than a rediscovered hero and story. This movie is a great movie introducing a very underated character.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Great review! Marvel and Disney really have set a high bar for DC to compete with. I thought your review was well rounded. I enjoyed the movie personally, though Amber Herd’s character design reminded me a lot of Ariel from the Little Mermaid!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Steph! Hahah I actually think Marvel/Disney created standards for all superhero movies and it’s why some of the DC movies get shredded by critics! The last couple of movies have been fantastic though, and the next one will blow everyone’s minds (The Joker), I’m convinced! 😍 And yes hahaha she sure does remind us of Ariel! I’m just glad they kept her costume from the comics! 😁 Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

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