The DC Extended Universe is saved. After the disappointing Justice League, DC’s fate hanged in the balance with some people seeing Aquaman as the studio’s last lifeline. The latest entry to the DCEU didn’t push the envelope story wise with complicated plots and mind blowing twist and turns. However, it is the Sistine Chapel of comic book movies. Aquaman has put to shame, in its two and half hour run, the visual effects of the 20 MCU movies combined. It is a cinematic marvel, one that cannot be easily replicated.
The movie’s plot is a simple one but works in so many ways: Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people — and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Arthur, Orm’s half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko and Mera, Arthur must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.
Every frame has marvelous details that you might not catch on first viewing. The Atlanteans use their mouths to speak, but there are no visible bubbles, only vocal distortion that suggests “bubbly-ness.” When the characters aren’t swimming at dolphin speeds, they square off against each other as if they’re standing on a sidewalk on land, bobbing ever-so-slightly. The water dwellers have lighting that’s supplied by luminous deep-sea creatures and high technology that’s inspired by aquatic animals and plants. Some of the battle armor features oversized crab and lobster claws. In one scene, Mera wears a dress with a collar made of glowing jellyfish and a multicolored seagrass skirt. In an arena sequence, we hear taiko drumming on the soundtrack, and the camera moves to reveal a lone percussionist: a giant octopus.
The fight scenes are also very unique. The chase sequence in Italy is one of the best shot sequences I’ve seen in a superhero movie. Mamoa is able to carry the movie till the end and gives a breath of fresh air to a character who has always been made fun of for being able to talk to the “fish”. The jumps from one time period to another are also very well placed and do not cut off from the logic of the movie.
The reasons why Aquaman doesn’t get a perfect score are the fact that it came so late in the DCEU. Although the story is compelling and interesting it does not advance the story set out by BvS and Justice League. Also, that Pitbull cover song…
Director: James Wan
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman