Thanks to Amazon and Atom Tickets I was able to see Aquaman a week early, so I am able to get a review out before the movie opens for once. Aquaman is the sixth movie from the DC Extended Universe, and its second best. Which to be fair isn’t hard, but it is still a good movie. It is strange to think in this era of superhero films that an ‘A’ list hero created in 1941 is just now getting his own movie, but thanks to the 70’s animated cartoon Super Friends we think of Aquaman like this:
And not like this:
Anyway, the new movie from James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) and Warner Brothers seeks to change all that, and for the most part they do.
Aquaman takes place right after Justice League, but in no way do you need to know what happened in that film, just that it happened, and Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman (Jason Momoa) reflects on how he came to be. He has also started being a hero full time. That is until Princess
Exposition Mera (Amber Heard) shows up and tells Arthur that he needs to come to Atlantis and claim the throne from his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) before Orm can declare war on the surface world.
Aquaman has the pretty standard origin story flow. He is a misfit kid dealing with some trauma (though not as bad as most superheroes), and he is a reluctant hero until he gains the confidence to fight. Now that may not have sold you on this film, but what should, is that this thing is non-stop action and spectacle. It is always showing you something cool or crazy. I mean there are sharks with lasers fighting giant crabs, Black Manta has his big dumb helmet, and if that is not enough Julie Andrews plays a kraken. None of this will win an Oscar, but it is all peek ocular cotton candy.
Sadly, it has a few things that bring it down. This movie is over two hours long and at that it still has barely enough time to tell its story, so a lot of things feel rushed or at least very convenient. I didn’t like Amber Heard at first. She was stilted and wooden, but that is because she was given nothing but exposition to say for the first hour. Once she was done with that she got much better and was clearly having as much fun as Jason. Willem Dafoe also spouts exposition, but he is much better at it. It is a gift it seems.
Aquaman revels in being a popcorn movie. One covered in cheese with some candy on the side, and you can tell the actors were all having a lot of fun with it. I mean there are dinosaurs in this movie and nobody says anything about it. They just exist. Why? Because they are cool, and that is this movie’s MO. If you are going in expecting more than that, you may be disappointed, but I had a great time. It is strange to think that Aquaman is this year’s fourth best superhero movie, but it is still pretty good, and worth your time and money.