Aquaman (Review)

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Aquaman

Director: James Wan

Writers: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall

Release Date: 26 December 2018

Classification: M

Running Time: 2 hr 23 mins

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Country: United States

Language: English

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole KidmanWillem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson

‘Aquaman’, directed by Malaysian-Australian, James Wan (The Conjuring), is one of the latest instalments in the DCEU, featuring Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Stargate: Atlantis) as it’s lead actor who takes on the role of Arthur Curry, or better known as “Aquaman”.

The superhero film blends scifi aesthetics with neon technicolour VFX-heavy extravaganza, that reminds me of some of the ethereal and alien looks akin to James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ and Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian’, with a copious amount of staple action/adventure scenes typical of the genre.

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L-R: Amber Heard (as Mera), James Wan (director), Jason Momoa (as Arthur Curry/Aquaman), and Willem Dafoe (as Vulko). Warner Bros.

At it’s core the film centres on a quest undertaken by our leading (reluctant at first) hero, Arthur Curry, the son of a lighthouse keeper, and Atlanna, queen of Atlantis, played by actress Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge!, The Golden Compass, Lion) to find the legendary Trident of Atlan, the first ruler of Atlantis, in order to claim his rightful position as heir to the throne, and cut the chances of his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson: The Conjuring 1 & 2, Watchmen) from his mission to become Ocean Master, and unite the seven kingdoms to attack the humans of the surface world for causing environmental pollution.

At his side is the trusty and fiery redhead warrior woman, Mera (Amber Heard: The Danish Girl, Justice League), daughter of King Nereus, and Orm’s betrothed, assisting his pursuit to become king, along with Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe: Spider-Man, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Atlanna’s trusted advisor and Arthur’s childhood mentor.

Our heroes not only face the threats of King Orm, but also that of mercenary David Kane, who becomes Black Manta, whose motivation is to avenge the death of his father in killing Arthur Curry, who refused to rescue him, as we see in one of the film’s earlier action sequences.

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In a journey that takes them to Sahara desert and across to Silicy, and back to the ocean again, there are sequences reminiscent of the Indiana Jones films, while the bonds of family, and the loving connection between Arthur’s parents (cue heartwarming backstory commencing at the film’s initial opening), creates genuine heart, in addition to the flashbacks of young Arthur’s training with Vulko, from when he was a boy to a young man, along with the back-and-forth quips between Arthur and Mera, whose chemistry, thankfully, is not a complete eye-sore.

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Flashback scene. Nicole Kidman (as Atlanna) and Temuera Morrison (as Tom Curry). Warner Bros.
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Patrick Wilson (as King Orm). Warner Bros.

The Hawaiian born actor, Momoa, is aptly suited to the role, with the perfect blend of physical prowess, rugged charm, and quirky sense of humour, which gladly allows the movie not to be an entire flop.

Nicole Kidman is regal and refined in her role as Atlantean royalty, and is her return to the superhero genre since 1995’s ‘Batman Forever’.

Particularly, watching the film at Event Cinemas, George Street, in 4DX proved to be quite an unusual experience, as every time a character was thrown across the room, or splashed with water, the experience literally moves your theatre chair about in time with the movements as you get doused in, yes, water.

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Young Arthur Curry, played by Hawaiian actor Kekoa Kekumano. Aquaman, Warner Bros.

At the same time, lets bear in mind that largely, narrative-wise, there is nothing that is completely new or far-removed from the clichés of movies native to such superhero franchises (the cardboard cutout villain wants dominion over the world/universe, might I add?). Plot points and lines are predictable, but visuals are nonetheless superb, and the ensemble of actors shows that the film is well cast.

The bottom line of these films is pure entertainment, without much indication of deep cerebral thinking and ingenuity.

It is there to quench the thirst of fans of the original intellectual property.

On the plus side, with Aquaman’s choice of Jason Momoa as the lead, it’s another superhero film that encourages further diverse casting in the same light that ‘Black Panther’ has aimed to achieve for the Marvel universe.

While I am still waiting for a superhero film that uses staple genre clichés minimally (usually a weakness in the quality of screenwriting), I can agree that Aquaman is definitely a family-friendly or weekend outing suited film, not completely bad, but not completely outstanding from my point of view in terms of originality impact.

That being said, I rate Aquaman

3/5

In other news, Aquaman will not be set for an Oscar nomination, as it did not make it on the VFX shortlist, to which James Wan commented it being a “f*cking disgrace”.

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