Directed by: James Wan
Runtime: 143 minutes
Poor DC. After a run of films that have been blasted as being too ‘dark’, and… well, just not good, we are now seeing the remains of a cinematic universe that will probably, now, never come to any kind of fruition. Watching Aquaman is a strange experience—it’s a film that is, on the one hand, a fair bit of fun, but on the other, laced with the same flaws of its predecessors to the point that I was unable to fully enjoy myself. Released fifteen years ago, this flick would have been a good enough romp to pass the time. Now, however, with the advent of so many incredible superhero ventures, Aquaman just feels stagnant.
Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), a half-breed Atlantian and Human who has special sea-powers, must face his half-brother, an Atlantian ruler who is looking at waging war between the surface and the sea, by finding a magic trident. Part-Lion King, part-Indiana Jones, we are given a plot that, while entertaining, for the most part, is tainted by the fact that Black Panther did most of it before, and better, earlier this year. The magic-trident tomb-raiding is fun while it lasts, and the movie is paced quite well, but the film’s flaws were never going to be saved by a mere MacGuffin or my nostalgia for early-2000s adventure films.
Momoa himself is likeable enough to carry a feature film. This would have been a much worse film without him in the lead, and Warner Bros. made an inspired choice casting him as Aquaman. However, the script doesn’t give him a lot to work with, and some decisions he makes are just plain… cruel. He doesn’t show mercy to a man early on in the film, and it is a moment that doesn’t seem character-driven or heroic in the slightest. In the final big-battle, the casualties are very hard to look past, and his involvement in killing masses of people he is supposed to rule left a sour taste in my mouth. Warner Bros.’ obsession with large-scale destruction is wearing thin and needs to be addressed.
Other performances are fine—Amber Heard is surprisingly likeable, and Nicole Kidman is oddly well-cast. Willem Dafoe, however, is not; I am completely unable to suspend my disbelief and see him as a mentor-type character. I was waiting for him to turn evil throughout and he didn’t, but he really does have a villainous face. The rest of the acting is, in parts, janky, but most of the time everyone gets through it fine.
This movie isn’t anger-inducing, but I can’t say it’s any good. Sure, it is more fun than other DC entries, and has a lot more colour, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. For me, I am spoiled for choice with superhero films, and this just doesn’t do anything for me. This just makes me want to see Jason Momoa in the lead of a genuinely well-written blockbuster, and unfortunately this isn’t it.