Does Aquaman Sink or Swim?

Projected Film Review - Does Aquaman Sink or Swim?

Runtime: 142mins | Director: James Wan | Rating: 3 Stars | Credits Scene: Yes

Unfortunately, DC has earned itself a terrible name amongst filmgoers. This is mainly due to its unnecessarily rushed character development, terrible CGI, and poor, often uninteresting plotlines. In fact, bar Wonder Woman, none of them can truly be deemed acceptable. And, even then, Wonder Woman was nothing special - when you set the bar low, you don’t need to aim high to succeed…

I had hoped that Justice League would resolve their recurrent issues. After all, it’s the biggest names in DC coming together for an epic film – how could they get it wrong? Well, as most of you know, they did. And spectacularly so at that. So, what am I trying to get at?

Basically, that DC, so far, has been shit. Was Aquaman the film to change this? In a sense, yes. In others, no.

Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry – Aquaman (Jason Momoa) - finds himself having to save the world yet again - this time, from his step-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson). Whilst facing this new threat, Arthur must also come to terms with the fact he is the true heir to the Atlantean throne and all the responsibilities that come with it. Is he up to the task? It looks unlikely, but with guidance from Vulko (Willem Dafoe) and Mera (Amber Heard)s, he may stand a chance…

First and foremost, let me say that Aquaman truly stands out in two main areas; its visuals and its action.

No-one can deny that Aquaman is stunning. The Atlantean world James Wan creates underwater is truly a sight to behold - picture Pandora from Avatar but underwater and fish themed. One look at it and you’ll be blown away. Unfortunately, I was only able to see the film in regular size 2D as I was lucky enough to catch an advance screening. However, I can only imagine how incredible this must have looked in IMAX.

Projected Film Review - Does Aquaman Sink or Swim?

Wan’s Aquaman also does what many thought wasn’t possible – he makes Aquaman cool. For a long time, Aquaman has been the laughing stock of DC (to see a prime example, click here). But, we can safely say that this is no longer the case. How could it be when you have someone as badass as Jason Momoa playing him and loving every second of it? The man played Khal Drogo for God’s sake. This, coupled with the incredible action sequences makes for some top-notch popcorn entertainment. For me, the one-on-one fights between Arthur and King Orm stood out - the transitions between the fast-paced brawling and slow-motion trident slashes were excellent.

Projected Film Review - Does Aquaman Sink or Swim?

The film also gave Wan a platform to flex his horror roots. Now, you may be thinking that Aquaman and horror don’t go well together? You’d be wrong. Some of the best scenes - particularly the cinematography of them - are in the realm of horror. And, what’s more, they don’t feel forced at all.

Aquaman also deserves credit for being unapologetically bat-shit-crazy. There’s a giant octopus playing the drums, a tribe of mutant crab-people and Jason Momoa riding a seahorse that’s geared for war. Love it or hate it, it will stick with you for a while. 

Projected Film Review - Does Aquaman Sink or Swim?

Unfortunately, though, Aquaman isn’t all sweetness and light. In fact, it has some quite significant flaws which are typical of DC. Shock.

An issue I had throughout the film was that the dialogue was terrible. In fact, some of it was so bad that in the opening 15 minutes I was rolling my eyes. That, coupled with the relentlessly bad jokes was a real disappointment – they’re simply too forced, and as a result, awkward. I’d hoped DC would have learned from Justice League about the poor humour, but they haven’t. It just feels try-hard and as if they’re attempting to replicate the lighter tone Marvel have set.

Secondly, the film is far too long. This is mainly down to the fact that it needs to introduce a lot of new characters, which had DC paced its films correctly in the first place wouldn’t have been necessary. My biggest issue though is that Aquaman spends two-thirds of the film focussing on the hunt for the trident which will make Arthur King of Atlantis, but due to the marketing, we already know he’s going to find it. Had the marketing not been there, sure, we could have guessed with some certainty that he’d have found the trident. But knowing he’s going to before watching it removes any sense of emotional investment or suspense in their meaningless quest.

Projected Film Review - Does Aquaman Sink or Swim?

It's also hard not to compare Aquaman with Marvel’s Black Panther. After all, their plots are very similar, the visuals are both excellent, and they’re both superhero films. But, when compared, Aquaman doesn’t stand up. That doesn’t make it bad, but it does show the vast improvements DC need to make before being on Marvel’s level still.

Worst of all though, Aquaman features a diabolically bad cover of Africa by Toto. Some things are sacred in this life and Africa is one of them – this cover should never have been recorded let alone used in a major motion picture. Please, someone, remove it immediately - it has no place in this world.

Ultimately, Aquaman is definitely worth a watch – mainly for its beautiful visuals, epic action sequences, and Jason Momoa being Jason Momoa. It’s also the best DCEU film to date. But, similar to Wonder Woman, that isn’t saying much as the bar is set so low. The most important thing to be taken from Aquaman though is that it’s an improvement which inspires confidence in the coming films if nothing else. Hopefully, the DCEU is now on the right path rather than continuing on its seemingly unstoppable downward spiral. I guess we can only wait and see…

To watch the trailer for Aquaman – click here!

To read my review of Justice Leagueclick here!

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If you enjoyed reading this review, consider donating to my Patreon account – click here

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