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Film Review: Aquaman

Director:    James Wan

Cast:    Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, Temuera Morrison

Rating:    M

Running Time:    143

Australian Distributor:     Roadshow Films


It’s fair to say the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has not exactly gone to plan. Bar last year’s Wonder Woman, the other films have left a lot to be desired.  

With the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame racking up 289 million views in 24 hours, the DCEU was in need of a hero. And fast.  Step forward, Jason Momoa. Or, to give him his proper name, Aquaman. And if this is anything to go by, we are in for one crazy new universe.

The opening quickly fills in the blanks of Arthur Curry’s (Aquaman) background. His mother, Princess Atlanta (Nicole Kidman) was executed for falling in love with a human and raising a hybrid child.

We first meet Aquaman in full hunk mode as he saves a group of sailors in an action sequence that explains why the soon-to-become Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) wants Aquaman’s head. While the public knows of Arthur’s powers he wants nothing to do with the kingdom of Atlantis after what they did to his mother. However, his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson), plans an attack against the surface dwellers (humans).   

Mera (Amber Heard) and chief political advisor, Nuidis Vulka (Willem Dafoe), call on the big man to claim the throne and stop his brother from killing billions of people.

Drawing on a multitude of cinematic influences, director James Wan’s vision is simply all over the place.  Wan lets everything off the leash and throws it onto the screen in a cacophony of style and colour. You are left with no choice but to abandon logic to let your senses take over.

From bongo playing octopuses and fully armoured sharks to webbed sea monsters and glamourous campy outfits, Aquaman demands you have fun. It’s a film that needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible. That is the only way to lose yourself completely in its madness. It even manages to overcome a heavily clichéd story and some questionable acting. The performances are big and melodramatic. Anything else just wouldn’t fit.

Much of the success of Marvel is down to fantastic casting. In Momoa, Warner Bros. has picked the right man who has charisma and screen presence to spare.   

Amber Heard serves as a solid anchor and creates a solid partnership alongside Momoa. Even though the female characters are largely left to play second fiddle for the most part. Fans of the comic will also get to see one of Aquaman’s biggest enemies, Black Manta. His outfit is hard to take seriously, but in context with everything else, he fits right in.

It could be the start of a new and exciting DECU. Just don’t expect any of it to make sense.

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