Pop culture has not been kind to Aquaman. Thanks to Super Friends, this character has been the butt of many jokes. I’ve seen various comedy sketches and gags from Family Guy and Robot Chicken depicting him as weak and useless. Because of this, DC has been making an effort to make the character more badass. He doesn’t just communicate with marine life, he’s the King of Atlantis, he’s super strong and durable enough to survive the depths of the ocean, and he wields an all-powerful Trident that can pierce Superman’s skin. Oh, and he’s one of the original founding members of the Justice League. He’s not one hero you want to underestimate. Aquaman made his cinematic debut in Batman v Superman, portrayed by Jason Momoa, where he was just a glorified cameo. He shows up in Justice League, where he does absolutely nothing of worth, adding more fuel to the “Aquaman is useless” narrative. Well, it’s been a year since that cinematic trainwreck and now we have his first solo movie. How does it fare compared to the rest of the DCEU? Well, let’s find out. This is Aquaman.
Arthur Curry is the son of a human lighthouse keeper and Atlanna, the Queen of Atlantis. He must now become the bridge between Atlantis and the surface world as he must go up against his step-brother Orm, who plans to attack the surface world with the might of the seven seas, and take his place as the true King of Atlantis. Right off the bat, this plot is something we’ve seen before. It’s a loose adaptation of the Throne Of Atlantis storyline from the comics (which was also adapted into an animated movie) and it shares some of the same plot points as Black Panther and The Lion King. Hell, this kind of plot goes all the way back to Shakespeare when he wrote Hamlet. The main character is royalty and they have to go up against a family member to take their rightful place on the throne. Back to Aquaman. We get that story and also a treasure hunt going to several places in the second act that kinda drags the story a bit and messes up the pacing.
Character-wise, this movie isn’t really strong in that area. I’m not saying the characters are bad, the acting all around is really good, but I wish they would have gotten better development. I was 100% on-board for the casting of Jason Momoa as Aquaman and he finally got a chance to shine in this movie. Dude was great. Badass and had a lot of charm to him. He has no problems being a hero, but he’s more reluctant about being a king since his mother never came back for him. Also just as badass is Amber Heard as Mera. She guides Arthur along to his journey and they both have really good chemistry. She has hydrokinetic abilities, which makes her kind of an OP character when you think about it. Being able to control water and you’re in an environment surrounded by water? Maybe I’m thinking too much about it. The main villain is Orm a.k.a Ocean Master, played by Patrick Wilson. I should put quotations on villain because he doesn’t really act evil, but he seems more like a pissed-off asshole. His character is an archetype we’ve seen before, someone who wants the throne and take revenge against the world (more specifically, the surface world). You kinda understand his motivation, but it really isn’t anything that special. I didn’t mind the way his story concluded. It doesn’t go the way you think. There’s also Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as longtime Aquaman nemesis Black Manta. He has a cool design and the scenes he’s in are cool, but he’s clearly there for fan-service. A few other noteworthy performances are Nicole Kidman as Atlanna and Willem Dafoe as Vulko, the latter who’s Arthur’s mentor figure, teaching him how to swim and fight when he was younger.
Yo, they went all in on this movie, which is honestly the best route you could go with Aquaman. There’s humor in this movie and it’s similar to the humor of the MCU. Honestly, I’m fine with that. It’s Aquaman. Embrace the silliness of it all and that’s what the movie does. The visuals? Stunning. This is the most colorful DCEU movie out there, a complete 180 to BvS with no ugly gray or brown filter along with some great cinematography. The world of Atlantis didn’t exactly wow me in the same level as Wakanda, but it looks amazing and the way they utilize the sea creatures was really creative. These Atlanteans are riding on sharks and dolphins and giant sea horses. They took an idea that was pretty much a joke and made it look cool. Out of the entire DCEU, Aquaman has the best use of CGI. They make the underwater effects work without it looking fake. And then there’s the action. Holy shit, this is some great action. From when Atlanna was fighting the Atlanteans at the lighthouse to Arthur and Orm’s first clash to even the Black Manta ambush/chase in Sicily. But that’s nothing compared to the final battle. BRUH!! That shit was hype. You have an underwater war going down with crab people and mythical sea creatures and then you have Arthur coming through with a fucking Kraken (I know it’s not a Kraken, but it might as well be one) and having every sea creature under his command and his final clash with Orm where he comes out the victor. This final battle is better than the ones from Wonder Woman AND Black Panther. One last thing, I liked the score. It matched the tone of the movie and enhanced the scenes, especially that rocking music every time there’s an action scene involving Arthur. I didn’t mind the Skylar Grey song that played during the credits, but I hate that fucking Pitbull song that they used, which pretty much ripped off Africa by Toto. Seriously, what is with 2018 and botched covers of Africa? There was Weezer and now, there’s Pitbull. Leave that song alone. Also, this is the second time that Pitbull made a shitty song for a movie.
I give Aquaman a strong 7/10. It delivered exactly what’s expected out of an Aquaman movie. The story and characters aren’t that great, but they make up for it with the cinematography, visuals, and the action. Watching this movie felt like watching a Saturday morning cartoon from the 90s with all the craziness and joy and it never takes itself too seriously. So far, this is the second best DCEU movie after Wonder Woman, which puts them at a 2 to 6 ratio. It’s not a perfect movie and I can see why some people wouldn’t like it, but it’s an entertaining ride that I would gladly revisit. It’s a good popcorn flick is what I’m trying to say. Even though the DCEU has no focus as of now, I’m looking forward to Shazam and the Wonder Woman sequel that are coming up.