Daniel Tinson

In a story that sets off firmly rooted in the #SnyderCut and doesn’t do much (if anything) to hide it, Jason Mamoa and Director James Wan give us an at times corny and other times Shakespearean kitsch, borderline camp adventure movie that somehow manages to still be great fun.

James Wan explodes his talents and experience from the horror genre to deliver a fantastic big budget adventure movie.
Refusing to show the implied weight of a franchise laid upon his shoulders, James Wan is joyous in presenting his movie in the style of an 8 - 10 issue comic book story arc.
Aquaman revels in its absurd premise finding itself firmly nestled as the first Aqua-Indy and the best Indiana Jones rip off since Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The movie has a few negatives with the linear story offering no hint of intrigue or curiosity, no real must see action sequences (ie: Batman vs a warehouse of thugs or Wonder Woman vs an army across No Mans Land) and the 3rd act gets off to a sluggish start which kills momentum for what could have been a snappy 2 hour adventure movie.
Where Aquaman redeems itself though is littering the mix of bombastic and grounded visuals with comic book moments throughout the movie that could be splash pages and amazing cinematography invoking Zack Snyders signature attention to detail bringing the DCEU back to its unique feel that went walk about with Justice League.

The characters of Aquaman are a mixed bag.
The hero’s fair well.
Jason Mamoas Aquaman is your classic reluctant hero. Mamoa adds his cheek, charm and heritage to the character anchoring the movie well as it’s lead. Mamoa manages to bring legitimacy to the outlandish with a wry smile.
Amber Herd brings conviction and strength to Mera, proving she’s not a side kick she is a strong leader and independent thinker who for most of the movie out thinks, outwits and out muscles the movies namesake.

The villains are uneven and almost play as opposite parodies to each other.
Patrick Wilson portrays King Orm (Ocean Master) with such strong confidence and conviction that the corny dialogue and brash decisions conjure up images of classic Shakespearean family drama, making you wonder if there is something more profound to be discovered beneath the Hamlet cross Julius Caeser-esce surface. Sadly there is not.
Black Manta on the other hand is as serious as a heart attack. This guy is a deadly weapon that has one objective and sets out to complete this at all costs.
This unfortunately is the biggest let down for his character. Manta should be slaughtering his way throughout the movie, inching ever closer to earning his throwdown with Aquaman but this Black Manta is gifted his opportunity as payment and it feels as if an opportunity is lost. Hopefully this is a build up to Manta being a trilogy mainstay, the cockroach that won't die.
Manta looks the goods though with Wan delivering a more comic book accurate depiction than I expected and I will say that too much dialogue in such a get up would have resulted in the helmet-less character trope present in so many modern day CBM flicks, so maybe it was an appropriate decision overall.

Delivering a great adventure, Aquaman is a bold addition to the DCEU and gives the feeling that the DCEU is once again doing its own thing after JL let go of the reigns completely.
James Wan finally gives the DCEU consistency from multiple directors that has felt like the missing piece between the ongoing inevitable comparison of the DCEU and MCU.

Enjoyable lead performances, dazzling visuals and a great adventure story are unfortunately let down by the mostly uninspired set pieces, predictable story and pacing that is too top heavy.


Daniel Tinson is co-presenter of the Geek Out of Water Podcast and host of the Sober Not Sober podcast.
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