Aquaman is currently busting box-office records in China, but the DCEU film doesn’t drop in the U.S. until December 21. But thanks to WBTickets and a flyer left at my local comic shop, I was able to attend an early screening of Aquaman and this is my spoiler-free review of the film.
In short, Aquaman is amazing.
It is everything I hoped it would be, and so much more. It was a surprisingly light-hearted film. The director, James Wan is best known for his work on horror franchises like Saw and The Conjuring. So I feel as though I should attribute a good portion of the light-heartedness to writer Geoff Johns. Johns has also been doing amazing work on the CW DC shows in my opinion.
Aquaman made me feel like I was a kid again, sitting in a theater, watching a classic fantasy adventure film. One with lots of action and an ample portion of very cheesy lines of dialogue. It is for that reason Jason Momoa is not only The King of Atlantis, but he is also The King of Cheesy Line Delivery. I loved listening to his narration throughout the film. The film had the pacing and energy of a classic Indiana Jones film, the epic sound and scale of Lord of The Rings: Return of The King (Under The Sea). It’s beautifully finished off by having some of the most stunning visuals I’ve seen since Avatar.
While its story admittedly has a very familiar feel to it, it’s in the way the story is told where it really shines. Aquaman is a beautiful and an incredibly enjoyable family film. The casting was perfect. New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison as Tom Curry really helped the viewer make sense of Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Both actors have Maori ancestry, and in the film they both sport similar tribal tattoos. Jason Momoa even busts out into a ceremonial haka in one scene. Also, I’ve loved Amber Heard’s portrayal of Mera since she appeared in Justice League. So much so, that I’ve been daydreaming about a Mera solo film based Dan Abnett’s Mera Queen of The Ocean. I loved her even more in Aquaman. Her performance was really dynamic and her fight sequences are some of the best ones in the film.
I want to talk about the impression another character left on me, but I don’t want to over hype it or spoil the reaction for anyone going to see the film. I will say, his inclusion in the movie made you feel as if you were watching a Disney Classic. Some may disagree with me on my next point, but, in my opinion. None of the characters felt out of place. Willem Dafoe won’t make you go “William Dafuqs he doing in this film?. Neither will the casting of Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus. He looks exactly like his comic book counterpart. Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta were all perfect in their roles.
Now, let’s get into the acting. While there were some incredibly heartfelt and amazing performances, no one here is going to nab an Oscar. Nicole Kidman however is sublime. Just perfect. However, the movie itself may get one for its stunning visuals and for the beautiful film score. Truly, the film is damn near perfect. Any issues that I have with it are so minor they’re not even worth mentioning. They could have spent some more time developing Black Manta, but I feel that could have added way too much to an already nearly three hour runtime.
On that note, there is a mid credit scene, but no post credit scene. So don’t sit through the credits looking for one. Aquaman is not simply the best DCEU Film, but it’s a damn good super hero film on its own. And yes, this movie is very much isolated, it’s very much its own thing. You can go into this film not having seen any of the previous DCEU films. Actually you may be better off not having seen them in some cases.
And apart from setting up Black Manta as a potential villain for the next film, the ending leaves this movie quite self-contained. Aside from wanting to experience the wonderful worlds that they have created within the film, there is no real need for a sequel – except for the buckets and buckets of money I’m sure this will make once word gets out about how good it is. I know I haven’t gone into great detail about the movie itself. That is because so much happens in it, that anything else I mention is a potential spoiler.
Go see Aquaman!