- “Aquaman” is a fun action movie with stunning CGI throughout.
- The movie also has some outlandish costumes, talking crabs, and a scene in which a large octopus plays the drums.
- It is the quintessential 21st-century blockbuster.
The latest release from Warner Bros.’ DC Comics Extended Universe is “Aquaman,” which has already broken box-office records in China and now looks to put the DCEU back on track following the poor reception of last year’s “Justice League.”
The legendary DC character comes stateside on December 21, and it’s easy to see why the movie is already finding success. The director James Wan (“Saw,” “The Conjuring,” “Furious 7”) has concocted an action-packed story that is partly a redemption tale and partly a coming-of-age story but with an entertaining low-stakes feel that can be best described as a mix between a “Power Rangers” movie and the classic 1982 Disney movie “Tron.”
This really is the quintessential 21st-century popcorn movie. Almost every shot in it has CGI surrounding the actors, it has a diverse cast, and there’s enough action that you’ll never feel bored (though it runs close to 2 1/2 hours).
Jason Momoa returns as Arthur Curry, aka “MY MAN!” Aquaman, the son of the queen of Atlantis, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and a lighthouse keeper, Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison). Arthur grows up on land but is the heir to the throne of the legendary underwater kingdom.
We pick up on Arthur’s story following the events of “Justice League” (though the only mention of the movie is that he helped defeat Steppenwolf). His Aquaman legend is growing as he finds time to help humans who have trouble at sea when he’s not kicking back a few at the bar with his dad. Arthur has zero interest in going to Atlantis, as through his training with Vulko (Willem Dafoe), he’s learned that his mother was killed for having him when she was forced to return to Atlantis.
But things change when Mera (Amber Heard) appears from the water to persuade Arthur to come back with her and take the throne from King Orm (Patrick Wilson), who is making a move to wage war on the human race.
Arthur finally decides to follow Mera when a giant wave washes battleships and pollution onto the shores across the world. But Arthur must get the powerful Trident of Atlan to unite all the factions and become the undisputed king. So Arthur and Mera go on a quest for the trident that leads them everywhere from the Sahara to Sicily and even the center of the Earth.
“Aquaman” is dazzling to watch. For a movie like this, the CGI has to be top notch, and it’s one of the highlights. Momoa brings a great mix of charm and comedy to the Aquaman role, where all that was really required was looking good with his shirt off and fighting. Heard is great playing the straight man to Momoa’s silliness and gets plenty of moments kicking butt on her own. Plus, there’s an ’80s-era electronic score through the movie that works well.
But you also can’t ignore just how cheesy the movie is. In many ways, I wish it weren’t PG-13, because younger kids would love it: talking giant crabs, an octopus playing drums, sharks armed with laser beams, and so on. Meanwhile, the costumes of the Atlantis soldiers are hard to take seriously, as is the armour used by Aquaman’s nemesis Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). It’s so big and goofy at one point I honestly felt as if I were watching a stylised “Power Rangers” episode.
But the movie is such a good time it’s easy to let all of that pass. And I look forward to the next Aquaman adventure.
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