Aquaman Review – A Colorful and ‘Greatly Visualized’ Superhero Origin Story

Director: James Wan

Running Time: 2h 22m

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson

Movie Score: 83%

*[0-50%-red (poor); 50-70%-yellow (average to good, better and promising); 70-90%-green (very good to great); 90-100%-blue (outstanding to perfect and a masterpiece)]

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW OF THE FILM

James Wan is obviously known better for his horror franchise of ‘The Conjuring’ films, but when he was given the charge of a superhero film a few years ago and that too of DC, many skeptical questions were bound to arise. The reason is simple. Because the way DC movies should have fared in theaters and at box-offices, they didn’t. Barring a masterpiece, Wonder Woman, there has been no other solid release from the superhero ‘Worlds of DC’.

But Wan has eventually succeeded in proving the skeptical minds wrong!

Aquaman is a delightful visual experience for every moviegoer and also for the fans of Aquaman too. James Wan’s version is everything that you could ask for. He sways you and you are compelled to be there in his underwater, irresistible world.

This is an origin story of Arthur Curry aka Aquaman, the Future King of Atlantis. The plot generally revolves around the throne, and it may remind you of past superhero blockbusters like Black Panther (2018) and Thor (2011). And you may feel that this story is a kind of a repeated thing. But it’s not, thanks to James Wan’s dynamic direction and the charismatic performance of Jason Momoa in the title role.

When Momoa was first seen as the ‘fish man’ in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and then appearing in action in last year’s Justice League, his portrayal of Arthur Curry was received with mixed reactions. But here in his solo origin film, he delivers exactly the performance which the audiences want. He has a sort of his own attitude for Arthur’s role that makes him attractive to watch.

Jason Momoa and Amber Heard in a still from the film. Image Source: cdn.collider.com
Jason Momoa and Amber Heard in a still from the film. Image Source: cdn.collider.com

But Momoa’s not the only attraction! Amber Heard as Mera just steals the show and equally matches the Aquaman in nearly every scene. Again thanks to Wan for focusing better on Amber’s role and keeping it meaningful as per the story, instead of just showing her as an eye-candy or something. Yes, there’s no doubt that she looks absolutely drop-dead-gorgeous as the Atlantean Queen, but she also plays a key role in the story’s progression as well.

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The supporting cast could be more effective, though; overall it is okay. Nicole Kidman, as Arthur’s mother Atlanna, played her limited yet effective part wisely, while Willem Dafoe as Vulko seemed to be somewhat restricted. His role could have been extended a bit much so that his relationship with Arthur would have turned out to be more emotionally great.

Talking about the antagonist, then there are two in Aquaman. First one is Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (his character’s name is David Kane in the movie). Despite him bringing an impact to the screen as a solid enemy of Aquaman, director Wan still kept him less in the movie.

Black Manta in a still from a scene
Black Manta in a still from a scene. Image Source: i.redd.it

Yes, he is one of Aquaman’s most prominent enemies but if there was an idea of Black Manta’s introduction then his character should have got more strength which seemed to be lacking in the movie. But he was still great to watch especially in the classic suit, and since there will be a sequel to this movie, there’s a high probability of Black Manta’s expansion and it will be really interesting to see.

Another important and main antagonist is Patrick Wilson’s Orm/Ocean Master. Wilson played his part convincingly, as Arthur’s half-brother and ruler of Atlantis who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms to declare a war on the surface. Though he didn’t seem as villainous as he should have been, still he was good.

But all things considered, the highlight of the movie is its visuals. James Wan has just killed it in showing how a ‘real’ Atlantis would look like, had it ever existed! The movie is so rich in colours that you just don’t want to be away from the screens while being in theaters. All the CGI scenes, objects and huge creatures and monsters, and even very small ones, seem to be real. On technical levels, this film has succeeded in every aspect.

Actions sequences also are just fantastic to watch and some of them are absolutely mind-blowing. The climactic battle is a treat, combined with other beautifully choreographed sequences, like the one chasing scene involving Amber Heard and Jason Momoa. Action and visuals are the heart of this film that just don’t let you think about any other weakness about the story. And it can be called the biggest win for Aquaman, the movie.

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It was a brilliant choice from the perspective of the movie’s makers to choose James Wan for directing this flick since he has actually understood the essence and meaning of Aquaman’s home and the way Atlantis should be. It’s not a simple task to show each and every kingdom and its creatures, armies and also their battles with such an ease.

Apart from this, Wan has also laid a great foundation for the coming years, in the Aquaman series. His effort should be admired and this film deserves a great applause for his hard work.

Aquaman is not absolutely a great-great DC film after Wonder Woman but it’s a great Aquaman film in itself, just the way it had to be. Because no film is a perfect film, ever. Aquaman sways you on every level of fun, entertainment, and dazzling visuals.

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This film is a sure shot positive sign that DC is now on the right track to prove its mettle in competition to its biggest rival, Marvel, which is currently the pioneer in making exceptionally great superhero films. DC needs more directors like Wan and Jenkins who believe in making a great film, not just trying to build a universe. That should be the only sole objective of a filmmaker.

Distributed by Warner Bros., DC Films, and produced by Peter Safran and Rob Cowan, Aquaman is now playing in theaters.

 

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