Aquaman is the newest entry in the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). The film is about Arthur Curry, the son of the Queen of Atlantis and a human lighthouse keeper, who must step up and claim his right to the throne to prevent a war between the underwater and surface worlds.
This movie was more successful than some of the other DCEU films at infusing humor into the script. This is partially because the concept of Aquaman is and has always been somewhat campy and silly, and the movie embraces that; however, there is also some genuine wit in the film. It never matches the level of the MCU, but it is enjoyable nonetheless.
Jason Momoa is surprisingly the absolute highlight of the movie. In the past, he hasn’t been able to prove his ability to lead a film. He is able to use his charisma to make the character more compelling. He’s definitely very hammy and over-the-top, but it works in this particular case because of the non-serious nature of the movie.
That being said, the supporting cast is significantly underused. Amber Heard also has significant amounts of screen time, but she stumbles through her lines. She is probably the weakest link, as she is unable to sell any of the emotion in the film. Other actors in the movie, such as Willem Dafoe and Nicole Kidman, do a solid job, but they don’t have enough time to be substantial.
The plot is absolutely ridiculous. It is formulaic and feels like a rip-off of much better movies that came before, including Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther. The theme of the movie is also frustratingly straightforward. You would think that because Aquaman was already introduced in Justice League, this wouldn’t be just another origin story. It is.
The characters are also not particularly well-written. The protagonist is supposed to be heroic, but a scene early in the movie makes him less sympathetic, and that is frustrating. The antagonists are somewhat disappointing too. They way the film handled Black Manta was not satisfying. He is one of the coolest villains in DC Comics, and yet he is made to be somewhat lame. Ocean Master was even more underwhelming.
Additionally, the movie is very oversaturated throughout. There is just so much light that even the scenes on the surface look fake. The underwater scenes definitely look cool, but they are also very unrealistic. The effects used to animate the actors when they were swimming were absolutely ridiculous. Some of the creatures in the film look silly too.
Overall, Aquaman is mostly entertaining, but it’s not a particularly good movie. The charisma of star Jason Momoa is what makes it enjoyable.
Aquaman opens in theaters December 21.