They did it, man. They really did it. There exists a movie about that superhero everybody used to make fun of on the playground, and he’s the most BAMF’n dude around.
Despite the crumbling mass of whatever-the-hell-it-is that is the DCEU, Aquaman has actually astonished me and possibly rekindled my hope for this whole franchise. By simply taking a step back and giving a crap about a singular character, DC has given us another solo movie that is bold and fun.
If you haven’t seen the trailers, here’s the low-down. Aquaman is a do-gooder who doesn’t wanna pick sides, but when his half-brother King Orm wages war on the surface world he has no choice but to seek out a lost trident to claim the throne of Atlantis. That’s it. Done. Yeah, there’s character threads in there and all the prerequisites for a good movie, but it’s as simple as that and I love it.
This one’s a globe-trotter, like a classic adventure flick. We see Aquaman go from his home in the States, to Atlantis, to the Sahara, to Italy and beyond, all in pursuit of his birthright. Oh, and there’s action – so much action. Enough action you’d think it’s too much but somehow it works. Why? I think this movie just has a groove and dances a sick beat. It handles two villains, Ocean Master and Black Manta, exceedingly well (plus neither of them die, YAY!). It’s also got a vast variety of imagery, spirit and humor that feels fresh and confident.
The bit in the pub where the biker-gang-tough-guys ask Arthur for a selfie? That’s pure comedy. I love Marvel, don’t get me wrong, but this stuff is an immense breath of fresh air compared to the constant fart and pee-pee jokes we get in movies like Guardians of the Galaxy (again, I love those movies, but the humor can get tiresome at times).
Jason Momoa kills it. I mean, we already knew that going in, but getting to the nitty-gritty of Arthur Curry in this movie gave him a lot more depth to work with and he spins gold. Even the brutish, tough-guy moments feel charming as hell and not the least bit cringe-worthy. Really the only cringe-worthy acting I saw was in the young portrayals of Arthur, specifically the teen, or maybe I have an issue with whiny teens… that are supposed to become Jason Momoa….
Oh, and speaking of cringe-worthy? Yeah, I’ll admit that I might have made some Aquaman jokes on the playground as a kid, but the part that made me actually tear up during this movie? The sight of Jason Momoa in full classic Aquaman garb unleashing every possibly sea creature you can imagine against the masses of Atlantis. Seriously! That’s the crap we poked fun of in our youth, but we now get to see it blown up into epic proportions in live action and we love every second of it.
…. I mean, I did. Like I said, I practically cried.
I guess the only truly cringe-worthy moment was the final shot where he declares “I’m Aquaman,” but you know what? By then they had my money and they had my vouching. It’s also been a while since we’ve had that sort of traditional superhero zinger, and for Aquaman’s first solo outing I’d say it’s worth while. For crying out loud, the credits rolled and I wanted a sequel just a bit more than I want Avengers Endgame.
Talk about a turn around.
All this from the director of The Conjuring, too. Well done, Mr. Wan. I would never have guessed it… except maybe during the trench sequence.
TL;DR Score: “Permission to come aboard?” … In the words of my fiance: “Granted.”