Review – Aquaman (2018)
Directed by: James Wan
Produced by: Geoff Johns & Zack Snyder
Written by: Geoff Johns & James Wan
Release Date: September 12th 2018 (UK)
Re-watching Aquaman for review was the first time that I have seen it since seeing it in the cinema upon its release. When going to see it for the first time, I remember being quite excited for the movie after hearing the glowing reviews and praise it got at the time. I am also a fan of Jason Momoa and James Wan, so I was really hoping for this to be at least as good as Wonder Woman. Also, being a long time fan of DC Comics, I also hoped to see them find their footing cinematically and I thought that this could finally be the start of that. Unfortunately I left the cinema feeling pretty underwhelmed and not much has changed since then.
The movie opens by telling the story of how Aquaman’s parents came to meet and fall in love, even though they are from vastly different worlds. This whole sequence is brilliant and I was totally on-board for what was to come afterwards. Sadly, this opening sequence is by far the best part of the entire movie. From this point on it descends into a mediocre action adventure flick with story elements very reminiscent of Thor and Black Panther, (two movies that are vastly superior to this one.)
From a direction standpoint, it is clear that James Wan knows how to visually capture a scene in the most beautiful and intriguing way possible, which is especially evident during the trench sequence. His direction during all of the action sequences is great, with Nicole Kidman’s trident work in the opening scene and the rooftop sequence with Black Manta, Mera and Aquaman being the highlights. I don’t think that my issue with this movie is due to the direction lacking in any aspect. The only questionable choice in my opinion, was the choice to shoot the big Black Manta scene in broad daylight. It just looked slightly naff and would have came across much better if shot in darker conditions under the cover of night.
Nor do I think that it is the fault of any of the cast members. I think that Momoa does a great job in the title role and he looks incredible in the full on Aquaman suit, (which I don’t think many other actors could legitimately pull off.) I think that Patrick Wilson did a decent job as the evil slightly cheesy power hungry half brother of Aquaman. I also enjoyed Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren and Nicole Kidman in each of their scenes.
I think that the major culprit in this movie, – feeling a bit forced at times, – was the lazy script that the actors had to work with. Almost every scene plays out in the exact same way; with the characters that we are following turning up to a new location, meeting up with a character, (usually Willem Dafoe,) listening to them spout a bunch of expositional dialogue and then mid sentence bad guys will attack and an explosion will go off cutting the conversation short. Then we will get a well shot action sequence with super dynamic cinematography, then the characters will figure out where they need to go next, they will go to the next location and the process will be rinsed and repeated for the duration of the movie.
Overall, Aquaman is not a bad superhero movie, there is a lot of fun to be had here with the badass action sequences. Unfortunately the lazy script holds the movie back from being as good as the glowing reviews told me it would be and it is by no means the best of the DC solo movies.
PS. Although I don’t think that the movie in general was up to the highest level of quality, the CGI is objectively breath-taking in every scene and I totally agreed with James Wan that it was nothing short of an atrocity that the SFX team on this movie were snubbed for the 2019 Oscars ceremony.
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