I can say it out loud that Aquaman, directed by James Wan (Furious 7), is easily one of the most thrilling superhero movies I’ve seen and it sure came fully loaded with a lot of fun. This is a great development on the part of Warner Bros. as it pushed to salvage and improve its DC Comics lineup of big budget superhero movies with executive Walter Hamada leading the DC Comics movie productions. I can say that Aquaman is a clear sign that the current DC Comics cinematic universe is moving away from the dark and gritty vision implemented by director Zack Snyder with 2013’s Man of Steel.
Not clear enough for you? Consider the fact that Aquaman made over $1,000,000,000 in ticket sales worldwide. Aquaman himself is not part of DC Comics trinity (Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman) and yet the character memorably played by Jason Momoa proved to be attractive to moviegoers around the world.
Firstly the story emphasizes very relevant themes like Aquaman’s origin as the human creation of a man living in the surface and of a woman who is the queen of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. There is also attention paid to Aquaman’s heritage in the royal family, his being a half-breed made an issue on royalty, and most of all his destiny. Behind the superhero’s struggles is the conflict and light political developments concerning the underwater kingdoms laced with some elements of real world aquatic pollution caused by humans and industrial players.
For the most part, the plot manages to remain solid from start to finish and there was not a single moment where I felt lost. The movie follows Aquaman and his interactions with Mera, Black Manta and others then takes its time focusing on the underwater kingdom’s stakeholders and how their decisions affect each other. The pacing moves from moderate to fast for the most part and because there were a lot of thrills and surprises, there were never a dull nor a sleepy moment for me when I saw the film.
Actor Jason Momoa clearly was born to play Aquaman and in terms of talent he proves to be not only very capable with the action scenes but also successfully bring the DC Comics superhero to life on the big screen while still being able to perform comedy smoothly. In fact when it comes to on-screen superhero humor, I would say that Momoa is comparable with Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and I am not exaggerating here.
Then there is Mera memorably portrayed by Amber Heard. As soon as she first appeared in the film, Mera’s importance becomes hard to ignore and with regards to both screen time and interaction with Aquaman, Mera is easily the 2nd lead of the film. Because Amber Heard’s character had a lot of screen time and proved to be almost as important as the titular superhero, sometimes I felt the movie should have been titled Aquaman and Mera. Amber Heard clearly is very talented as she not only excelled with the action scenes but also emphasized Mera’s intelligence, courage and emotional range very nicely on screen.
Then there are the supporting players. Nicole Kidman’s role as the mother of Aquaman is probably the most significant supporting character performance in any of the recent DC Comics movies in recent years. Patrick Wilson delivered a very solid performance as the power-hungry brother of Aquaman while Dolph Lundgren and Willem Dafoe both played wise old men and added nice variety to the film’s strong cast. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II meanwhile was a surprising good performer even though his presence as Black Manta did not register enough screen time. I have this feeling that Black Manta will be more prominent in a future movie.
I must say that Aquaman is indeed an epic superhero movie laced with many elements that defined Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Sure we get to see Aquaman’s development and his connection with the underwater kingdom but director James Wan and the screenwriters ensured that the movie has more than enough variety to keep moviegoers engaged. They were indeed successful.
There are key parts of the film where I felt like I was watching an Indiana Jones-inspired adventure complete with changes of interesting locations. The big battle build-up in the 3rd act reminded me a lot about Star Wars which I found intriguing and even engaging at the same time. To lighten the mood, humor and romantic comedy (nicely done between Mera and Aquaman) provided nice relief to us moviegoers.
When it comes to spectacle, this movie delivered tons of great visual stuff (great art direction by the way) complete with many moments of fast-paced, high-intensity action! Hard action, energy blasts, weapon combat, fast rides, monster encounters, the smashing of walls, the explosions and stunts really filled up the screen many times and the energy behind them all made it very hard for anyone to get bored when watching the film. It rivals Michael Bay’s Transformers on on-screen spectacle but it never felt brainless to me.
Director Wan, whose most successful movie is Furious 7, really knows how to entertain moviegoers and give them a lot of fun in return for the money they paid to watch the film. Thanks to Wan and his creative team, Aquaman is the most action-packed, most thrilling and visually stunning movie of the current DC Comics cinematic universe (formerly called DC Extended Universe or DCEU) and in some ways its epic presentation even rivals that of Avengers: Infinity War. I think James Wan should be hired for a future Justice League movie.
The music? Rupert Gregson-Williams did a solid job on making the movie lively to the ears and he succeeded on keeping up with the film’s epic concept. Gregson-Williams, by the way, also scored the music for the acclaimed Wonder Woman movie. The most memorable song in the movie is undoubtedly Everything I Need which was greatly performed by Skylar Grey. That song was truly perfect to end the film with and I remember its impact inside the theater. When it started playing, I simply stayed on my seat enjoying the song while waiting for the mid-credits scene to play.
The way it was made, Aquaman is easily one of the best superhero movies ever made as the combined talents of director Wan, the creative team and the actors fused a lot to create cinematic greatness. This movie has strong characterization, a solid story, strong performances from the actors and tons of spectacle to enjoy. Speaking of enjoyment, I strongly recommend watching Aquaman on the IMAX screen as the visual spectacle really was immersive.
I don’t know with you guys but I am already anticipating Aquaman on Blu-ray disc.
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Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version.