Film review: Aquaman (2018), directed by James Wan
tl;dr: It’s an okay film, but that’s not exactly why you’re watching it, is it?
Once upon a time a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) encounters a beautiful woman (Nicole Kidman) washed ashore in a storm. They fall in love, have a baby, and she turns out to be an Atlantean princess who’s forced to return home, promising to one day return. As the child, Arthur, grows older he turns out to be able to breathe under water and can communicate with fish.
One day he’s Jason Momoa and encounters pirates. He makes a mortal enemy out of one of them in particular (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), which might prove to be a mistake a bit later, but first a beautiful woman, Mera (Amber Heard), comes from the seas begging him to come home to Atlantis, because shit’s going down.
Specifically, Arthur’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) thinks it would be a good idea to wage war on the surface world. Help us, Aquaman, you’re our only hope!
Also starring Willem Dafoe as Vulko, Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus, and Graham McTavish as the legendary founder of Atlantis, King Atlan.
No one’s laughing at Aquaman being someone’s favourite DC superhero now, are they? Before, it was all “what can he do, talk to fish?” But apparently there’s more to him than that. Or maybe it’s down to casting Jason Momoa and everyone being too distracted by the tall, dark handsomeness of said actor. Because he’s about as aesthetically pleasing as they come on this planet, let’s face it. And he’s all over this, often topless. I’m just saying a certain portion of the cinema-going public might have been more interested in the actor rather than the plot …
Which is just as well. Or is it? Aquaman, as it happens, is actually pretty good. Lots of interesting scenery, good CGI (and some dodgy), a bit of comedy, some not-entirely-convincing romantic side-plot, and lots of action both above and below the surface. It’s good fun! While it might not entirely match a Marvel film in lighthearted kick-assery, because I still think the ball of the comic-to-film universe is still firmly in Marvel’s court, at least this doesn’t feel like a let-down. I didn’t come out of the cinema after this wondering why it wasn’t better (Suicide Squad, Batman vs Superman, Justice League – looking at you!), but rather “yeah, I enjoyed that, that was good fun”.
The comic books I grew up reading were mainly Belgian or French in origin, so I can’t say how the film relates to the DCU or anything like that, but as a film fan and someone who enjoys superhero films, this was fun, and I’d even tentatively admit to maybe being up for seeing some more Atlantean action, but then I also wouldn’t really lose sleep if it didn’t happen. There are bigger fish to fry, as it were.
But yeah, good. Thumbs up.
4 out of 5 tridents.
(Update August 2021: As I’m not in the mood to write a review of it, and didn’t review the original, I’ll add here that the Snyder Cut of Justice League was SO MUCH BETTER than the mediocre film we saw at the cinema. The Snyder Cut brought the story to life and made a lot more sense.)