So just before Christmas, DC delivered to the world, “Aquaman” in all of its Momoan glory. Coming into the superhero league as the 6th installment in the DCEU (DC Extended Universe), Jason Momoa and company had quite big shoes to fill. Following the previous year’s release “Justice League”, DC has been off their heels with delivering a mixed bag of goods to their fan base in the last 3 years. We see 2016’s “Suicide Squad” do more than ok at the box office, but become a near write off by critics. In that same year we get our hands on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. With a budget of round about 300+ million dollars, the film only managed to rake in around 106 mil. Ouch, right? And just a few months later, they release their heroine; “Wonder Woman”. Despite its predecessors, Wonder Woman and company swooned the box office and, to some, maybe even felt like DC’s much needed saving grace. Then what felt like only 15 minutes or so later, the quickly formed superhero team is rag-tagged together to join in DC’s “Justice League”; and to only a handful’s surprise, it became an unfortunate box office bomb. And now, here comes Aquaman. Behind the trail of misfit box office buddies, Aquaman just so happens to change their game. Get ready for a lengthy one.
Directed by Saw and Furious 7 director, James Wan, the film is what is easily in my opinion the prettiest DCEU film to date. The set piece building, the world design, and the overall visuals of this film truly hit new highs for the studio, and credit to where credit is due on the ever-so charming performance of Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa. This guy is the quirky, arrogant, and sly bad ass you want him to be, and channels an almost “Tony Stark” level of likability. The supporting cast of DaFoe, Kidman, and Amber Heard all do what feels like an at least decent job with what’s given, plus an honorable mention to the often too stoic Patrick Wilson as the film’s villain. However, what I was most pleasantly surprised by in this film was actually a “side” villain played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Greatest Showman) in the role of Black Manta. But to be fair, it’s also with him that the film’s problems start to stumble in. Not too long in, we realize that even after an insanely cool entrance, (spoilers ahead) Black Manta won’t be sticking around for much. He comes in just as the “side” antagonist, with what only sets him up for a sequel down the road. The subsequent missteps for Aquaman start to become visible all too soon, with cheeky dialogue, haphazard script-writing, and what ends up feeling like a 25ish minute too long runtime (although I must admit, the film’s final 30 minutes might just be it’s best).
So, why did people love it? I’ll tell you why. Aquaman brought something that it’s forefather (or mother?) Wonder Woman delivered a year and some change earlier; a pulse. We’re presented characters with likable traits, with heart-touching backgrounds, all with meaning and weight. Do some of them happen to come packaged with poor, and somewhat tedious banter? Yes, yes they do. Does the movie ultimately kind of feel like watching a Saturday morning Hasbro cartoon? Yes, yes it does. And to the majority, that’s ok. See Aquaman isn’t here to please the Marvel fanboys like me who walk into every DC release praying for the next Dark Knight Rises. No, it’s here for the people in the theater here to 1. Watch superheroes do badass superhero things, and 2. To Watch Jason Momoa take his shirt off. For a beautiful visual design, great lead performance, and altogether muddy script, Aquaman gets a 6.9/10 for me. Thanks for reading, everybody.
(Oh and just one more thing! A good friend of mine by the name of Greg Laborie dropped a shout out to my blog this week, and it’s only right we do the same here. Please do yourselves a favor and check he and his crew out on “The Awesome Village” podcast, where they drop a weekly hour or so of content on anything media you can think of. From comics, to TV, to pop culture, you’ll hear it all.)