Director: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Temuera Morrison
The Aquaman had some time to shine in the DC Universe mash-up “Justice League”, but now the comic book character gets an opportunity to swim on his own. Director James Wan, who has helmed some really good films like “Insidious” and “The Conjuring”, takes control of the character but also suggestion from the comic book movie fans who have griped about the seriousness of the DC Universe. What develops is a film filled with flaws, masked under the guidance of something trying to have “fun”.
Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) has abandoned a life in an underwater kingdom, one that would call him king if he accepted the call. Arthur was born into two worlds, his father Thomas (Temuera Morrison) is a light keeper in the human world and his mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) is a princess from the underwater nation of Atlantis. As the world begins to learn more about The Aquaman, so does the underwater world that has shunned Arthur and his family. King Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s half-brother, wants to start a war with the human world. It is up to Aquaman to defeat Orm and reclaim the underwater kingdom.
James Wan is one of the more interesting directors working in Hollywood right now; the work he has done in horror has already earned him the accolade of being called a “master” of the genre. And this title is absolutely earned. The director has also displayed his skill for big action vehicles with the competent and over-indulgent fast car franchise “Furious 7” which starred Dwayne Johnson. This makes Mr. Wan’s association with the DC Universe fitting considering the want for a direction change for their superhero movies.
The director tries for a bit of everything in “Aquaman”. There are big special effects on land and underwater, two villains to occupy every second of Aquaman’s quest, and an easy-going appeal for the narrative that adds levity and zero consequences to a majority of the journey. For the films featuring DC characters, “Aquaman” feels the exact opposite of Christopher Nolan’s fantastic “Batman” films, though it does feel like it could have existed just fine in the Joel Schumacher universe of “Batman Forever” with its larger-than-life characters, bizarre narrative functions, and neon-colored designs.
“Aquaman” suffers from a poorly written script that stumbles for nearly 60 minutes to establish a simple origin story and then completely falls everywhere but the ocean trying to connect the dots for an adventure that leads from the Sahara to Sicily. The family drama, pushed with sincerity from Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison, briefly adds an emotional connection for Arthur but they are placed awkwardly as flashbacks in the story. James Wan’s presence comes through in some parts of the film, specifically when Aquaman and the Disney mermaid princess lookalike Mera (Amber Heard) travel to the Kingdom of the Trench with monstrous mermen in close chase. It’s the one scene that has the scope and excitement fans of Mr. Wan’s movies have come to expect.
“Aquaman” is trying to change the tone established by previous films in the recent DC Universe, though “Wonder Woman” has done the best job so far. Unfortunately, the need to make something less bad and more fun sinks this film quicker than Aquaman can inflict a bad one-liner.
1.50 out of 5.00