Movie Review: Aquaman (Spoilers!)

After the mixed reception that “Justice League” had, many began to anticipate as to how both “Aquaman” and the upcoming “Shazam” would fare, almost as if those two movies would seal the DCEU’s fate to continue or not. Although “Aquaman” got a bit messy at certain points, it did give us a visual feast in terms of world building enough to warrant a sequel; and it was a movie that was enjoyable all the way until the end. More importantly, it felt like its own thing, and didn’t seem to have too much pressure on its shoulders to set up things going forward in the DCEU. Because of this, I’m definitely looking forward to see what the DCEU gives us next with “Shazam”.

“Aquaman” was directed by James Wan; with a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall; with a story by Will Beall, James Wan and DC’s very own Geoff Johns. It’s score was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams and had cinematography by Don Burgess. As of this moment, it seems like “Aquaman” has crushed the box office record of “Justice League”, and the figures are still rising.

Image Source: Aquaman Movie Facebook Page

Set after the events of “Justice League”,the movie follows Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa), as he goes on an adventure with Mera (Amber Heard) to stop his half brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) from becoming the ruler of the seven seas and to stop him from unleashing havoc onto the surface world that we all live in. It also explains his origin story, and the Aquaman villain David Kane aka Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen). The movie also stars Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna, Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, Ludi Lin as Murk, Randall Park as Dr. Stephen Shin, Willem Dafoe as Nudis Vulko, and Dolph Lundgren as Nereus.

To be honest, I don’t really know anything at all about the Aquaman comics, so this review is definitely coming from a more outsider’s point of view.

While the acting is just alright in this movie, I cannot imagine anyone else playing these characters, and in particular, Aquaman himself and Mera, other than the people that they cast here. The musical score was great, to the point that I do want to give another listen by itself, and there are particular musical moments that did stand out to me. However, the film is brought down by its script and pacing, as the script wasn’t that great, and the pacing was a little bit uneven. I felt that there were some moments in the beginning that were too rushed, and somewhere in the middle, it began to feel more like scenes that were placed together instead of having a smooth narrative transition with each other.

Image Source: Aquaman Movie Facebook Page

There was also one particular moment that was a little bit messy CGI wise- there were too many things happening at once, and the narrative transition was pretty confusing.

I also felt that they put too many villains in this movie, which meant that the two main villains didn’t get as much character depth as I wanted them to have.

However, as this is a James Wan movie, the action scenes were very much on point, and wonderfully choreographed. The biggest draw for me, though, is all the world building of the ocean world that the movie gave us. It was visually spectacular, felt like you were on a totally different planet, and I cannot wait to see more of it if they do green light a sequel.

I also loved the fact that this movie was definitely its own thing aside from its very small reference to the events of “Justice League”; and that it stayed true to the fact that they wanted to make this a fun movie that was almost reminiscent of a Saturday morning cartoon and was very much aware of its own flaws.

“Aquaman” was an enjoyable movie from start to finish, a worthy successor to “Wonder Woman”, and a visual feast in terms of world building. I can only hope that this particular franchise will continue on improving the script, the pacing and give their characters more depth going forward; and I definitely think that having these movies be stand alone movies within the DCEU is the way to move forward. Also, stay for the mid-credits scene as it sets up the sequel to this movie!

Now, you know the drll! From here on out, there will be spoilers!

As I mentioned earlier, I did feel that the script didn’t really do much for all of the characters, and in particular, for Momoa and Heard to play off of, but what really got to me was the uneven pacing of the entire movie as that also played into why there was a big CGI scene that confused me.

With movies, you want scenes to flow smoothly as a narrative with each other, but at times, it felt like they mashed up a great origin story with a definite character arc to it with Arthur slowly discovering and taking his rightful place as the king of Atlantis, with “Indiana Jones” with their search for King Atlan’s trident. The scenes didn’t really flow together well, and felt like two different movies at times.

The New King of Atlantis Image Source: Aquaman Official Website

The whole battle sequence with the Kingdom of the Brine was very messy and confusing, and it didn’t really register that that huge monster thing that came out of the sea floor was a good thing until I saw Arthur riding it.

I felt that they could have made the film tighter by just focusing on having Orm as a villain instead of adding a lot of Black Manta so that they could focus on the character depth of the villain, although I do liked the villain that Black Manta was.

Patrick Wilson as Orm Image Source: Official Aquaman Website
Yahya Abdul-Manteen II as David Kane or Black Manta Image Source: Official Aquaman Website

The visuals and the world building, however, were great. It almost felt like it went to James Cameron level, and I loved the battle sequences with lasers as it felt as if you were witnessing a “Star Wars” like battle, but under the sea. I also loved the different character designs and setting designs for the different kingdoms of the seven seas and I honestly can’t wait to see more of that in the future.

As for the sequel, I hope that they concentrate more on the tandem that is Dr. Shin and Black Manta and have Orm and Arthur form a reluctant partnership together to defeat them. With the world building, I hope that they will also show us more of their culture, and I am pretty sure that there are legendary and mythical beings that can be set up a little bit as the main villains for the third movie if there will be one.

“Aquaman” was definitely a fun experience, and I cannot wait to see more of this world, despite all the flaws that the movie had. I also think that this is the way to move forward for the DCEU which makes me even more excited for its future.

Have you seen “Aquaman”? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

Image Source/s: Aquaman Facebook Page & Official Aquaman Website

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