There is a lot riding on Warner Bros.’ newest upcoming release Aquaman because the future of the DC Cinematic Universe is hanging in the balance since the critical and financial disappointment of Justice League last November. And from the movies prior, only Wonder Woman was a hit both financially and critically. And, the Amazonian Warrior Princess’ big screen debut was the only one to sit well with critics, earning a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
But that is the point we have come to- let the critics and Rotten Tomatoes tell us if a movie is good or if we should enjoy it. And because of the roller coaster ride, Warner Bros. has had with starting up the DCEU because of the reviews, there have been a handful of rumblings of the company starting from scratch or going in a different direction from the current universe that director Zack Snyder set up (aka the ‘Snyderverse’).
Aquaman officially hits theaters on December 21st, but, Amazon had a deal where Prime members were able to watch an early screening on December 15 in select theaters. So, as someone who was looking forward to the movie, why not?
Aquaman is directed by James Wan (Furious 7, The Conjuring, Insidious) and has an All-Star cast led by Jason Momoa who plays the main character, Arthur Curry, the ‘Aquaman,’ Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Defoe, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Temuera Morrison.
And it’s safe to say that James Wan did what he had to do and the movie is what Warner Bros. was hoping. Critically, it currently has a solid ‘fresh’ score of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. And financially, it’s doing even better than Wonder Woman, earning over $260 million internationally, despite not opening up in the United States yet.
And it’s not hard to see why it’s making so much money. It’s a delightful film that will keep viewers entertained throughout.
On the negative side, as an overall film, it isn’t better than Wonder Woman although it’s hard to classify that as a negative because that’s such a high bar to reach for any superhero film.
But, the writing was not up to par in different instances throughout, and at times it felt as if they tried to be too much of a Marvel film. And because of this, they inserted unneeded jokes at unnecessary times, reminiscent of like Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise (but not on that level).
The DCEU has been criticized by being too dark and gloomy, so they have attempted to change things up with their latest releases by lightening up the tone, and many times, they’ve tried too hard, as they did at times in this movie.
Aquaman had jokes that hit, but some that fell flat. Simultaneously, some of the writing was cheesy at times. Essentially, the tone was the right one and would have been perfect if some of the extra humor was taken away.
So, while it wasn’t better than Pattie Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, it was the more fun one to watch. It’s a big-time epic adventure with non-stop action that borders on fantasy over a superhero film at times.
The profound depths and mythology of the ocean and Atlantis are mysteries that no one has ever addressed, so it was intriguing to see how they would be tackled.
The visuals are absolutely stunning, and for a movie that has a heavy dosage of CGI, the special effects were great. Not to mention, the action sequences were splendid and hard to top, giving numerous ‘money shots.’
The movie is complete ‘out-there,’ similarly to Kingsman: The Secret Service in a way, minus the gory violence. They embraced it, and because of that, it worked.
Aquaman is the type of movie that is the perfect example of a summer blockbuster, and then a little more. Is it going to win an Oscar for its screenplay? No. But, the acting is good, the action is awesome, and the visuals are awe-worthy. But it’s a fun movie that breathes a fresh air into the pulse of the DCEU and shows that not every DC hero is brooding. One that is worth diving into.
Jason Momoa did the character justice and proved that he could carry a movie if needed. Although he does not fit the traditional image of Aquaman (Caucasian man with short, blonde hair), symbolically, he is perfect for the role.
Aquaman has been the butt of all jokes for a long time (although the character himself is extremely powerful and compelling) and growing up as a kid, Momoa was bullied. Also, Arthur Curry is a man of two different worlds- the surface and ocean- while Jason Momoa is a man of mixed ethnicities. And Momoa is from Hawaii, where the beach and surfing are life. The parallels are impeccable.
Momoa brings a different kind of swagger to the character, so it isn’t precisely what comic fans are used to from the King of the Seas, but something they will still appreciate.
And a hero (or movie) is sometimes only as good as his (its) adversary and nowadays it is hard to find good ones in a lot of action and superhero films, which made it refreshing to see Patrick Wilson and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II do well in their roles. They were strong and memorable because they were formidable with legitimate motives which you can understand.
And women, particularly powerful ones, have been underrepresented in not just superhero films, but in the action genre as a whole. However, we were given two kick-ass female characters in the movie with Mera (played by Amber Heard) and Queen Atlanta of Atlantis (portrayed by the ageless Nicole Kidman).
This is something that we may be and should be, trending towards in Hollywood. It started on a smaller scale with Black Widow from the Marvel Movies, but Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman broke a barrier. Now, we have these two characters in 2018, have Captain Marvel being released next year, and eventually Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).
The movie itself also yet another example, like Wonder Woman, why the heads at Warner Bros. need to find a quality director and let him/her make a movie according to his/her respective vision without interfering as they did with Batman V Superman, Suicide Squad, and Justice League.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s a reality check that they should focus on single standalone films, instead of trying to recreate what Marvel has done. With Shazam! and Todd Philip’ independent Joker movie coming out in 2019, they may be reminded of that if those two hit like Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
Featured Image via Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore