Jason Momoa just can’t escape Atlantis.
I am a big fan of Jason Momoa’s, having originally watched him as the elite warrior Ronon Dex in Stargate: Atlantis and then later as the iconic Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. Whilst this film is a far cry from his SyFy channel beginnings, it’s great to see that he’s managed to maintain his roguish charm and the wit that makes him so intriguing to watch. Momoa’s performance brings the character of Arthur Curry to life and immediately banishes all jokes of yellow spandex.
It’s no secret that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has been struggling, with huge critical and box office flops like Justice League and Batman vs Superman setting a low bar for any future installments to reach for. Despite the success of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, they can’t afford another fan disappointment. Choosing Aquaman to be either the saving grace or swansong of the DCEU, especially given his reputation among comic fans as the joke of the superhero universe, was a bold move. Luckily, it seems to have paid off.
Aquaman is visually faultless. The stunning CGI of the underwater city of Atlantis is highly reminiscent of the forests of Avatar’s Pandora, and viewers can’t help but stare in awe at the glowing city. And this isn’t the only scene that left audiences gaping. Littered throughout the film are mind-blowing images filled with colour and contrast. Without spoiling anything – a particular favourite comes from a glowing red sea.
However, the weakest part of the film stems from its narrative. Unlike the majority of the characters in the Marvel universe, DC decided to flip the established pattern and introduce Aquaman within earlier franchise films, following up with a solo outing to tell his origin story. The problem with this approach is that even for those who are well-versed in the comic book genre, the beginning of the film floundered between assuming the audience knows nothing and then referencing obscure facts that only extremely die hard fans would know.
There were other noticeable flaws as well, namely the arc of the villain, Manta. From the opening sequence, Manta is set up to be the film’s main antagonist. Once the film really gets going though, the time spent introducing him felt wasted and he ends up being pretty forgettable. If it wasn’t for the mid-credits scene, it would have been easy to forget he’d been a part of the plot at all.
Amber Heard’s Mera was another disappointing addition to the film. Although it was nice to see a female character hold her own against the hero of the film, the romantic sub-plot felt forced and unnatural. Not to mention that Amber Heard’s characterisation left a lot to be desired.
Verdict: Aquaman was definitely a step in the right direction for the DCEU. With the combination of Jason Momoa’s charismatic portrayal and out of this world cinematics, Aquaman will be sure to leave a great impression in every viewer’s memory.