The James Wan directed Aquaman movie has had quite the fanbase and hypetrain for a while now – very rightly so. Lucky enough to witness the film before its US premiere, I went in without very high expectations – after all the previous DCEU films (except Wonder Woman) had been quite disappointing. But then when you have someone like Wan at the helm, I guess it would have been foolish of me not to expect much, but I’m glad it went that way since I was in for quite the surprise. Aquaman is not just a visually stunning film but embodies the character’s mythology and gives us one of the best DC origin stories.
The film kicks off with a jump-scarish start (damn you Wan!) where Tom Curry, the lighthouse keeper of Maine rescues Queen Atlanna during a storm. The latter has fled Atlantis from an arranged marriage and is wounded but the kind Tom wins her heart over and soon the two strike a romance that gives birth to the half Atlantean-half human Arthur. Atlanna, played by the ever-graceful Nicole Kidman does a fantastic job infusing life to the majestic character and has a pretty neat fight scene fighting a bunch of Atlantean guards to arrive to take her back. As it happens Atlanna decides to return to her home in order to protect her husband and son. The narration quickly switches to present day where we are introduced to Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who hijacks a submarine with his father but the mission goes awry when the guardian of the seas intervenes. Jason Momoa’s shirtless figure has a fantastic entrance and the light-hearted humour with which he plays the character does a pretty neat job of establishing the whole reluctant hero. Arthur leaves Black Manta to save his father who ultimately perishes and sparks the hatred in Black Manta and initiates his quest for revenge. Elsewhere in Atlantis, Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s half-brother plots to take over the land by gathering the various tribes of Atlanteans. His betrothed, Princess Mera (Amber Heard) along with Vulko (Willem Dafoe) plan to overthrow his ascension to the throne by bringing Arthur into the mix. What results is a wonderful mixture of adventure and chaos combined with emotional rides into the underwater world of Atlantis.
Aquaman’s introduction in BvS and Justice League hardly did any justice to the character. But here, we see the full range of his capabilities as we are taken through his entire learning process making us feel and empathize with the character. The tone of the film was considerably lighter than the previous DCEU entries but I’m not entirely sure about its consistency because of the rapid changes between scenes. The overuse of CGI had its strengths and weaknesses, the underwater scenes were at times a tad bit cheesy and too smooth but the action sequences, especially the fight scenes were a definite highlight. I wonder if anyone else noticed that no bubbles escaped the characters’ mouths whenever they spoke underwater? No? Maybe that’s an Atlantean superpower. While there were a few drawbacks, the film as a whole is terribly fun! The choice of director and creative freedom lent to the production certainly had a payoff.
I really wished that the Justice League movie had not happened so soon. It’s the character-centric films such as this that should be produced first before assembling a league of heroes. The film will be screened in 2D over here in Sri Lanka, a good call coz 3D would leave you reeling by the time it ended – yeah, two and half hours of James Wan’s rotating camerawork is no joke. So do go see this flick, it’s a good way to start the holidays and its certainly family friendly. Actually I guess I’ll be seeing Momoa and Heard go at it again sometime soon, worth a second watch on the big screen.
Courtesy of Akash SK