Aquaman Review: Long Live The King

So I got to see Aquaman much soon than expected thanks to Brandon Davis with ComicBook.com and I walked away from this film with a ton of feelings. I immediately got to my car and tweeted out how I felt about the film. Aquaman really is heart, humor and emotion. Mera really does steal the show and based on what we have seen so far you haven’t even seen the money shot of this film. Wan has created a visually stunning and epic underwater adventure that me and others described walking out of the theater as Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars.

The movie opens with Thomas finding Queen Atlanna washed up on the rocks during a storm. Once he gets her back inside to treat her there are some hilarious scenes that ensue.  We also start to see the love and heart of the film as Thomas and Atlanna begin a forbidden love. James Wan is mostly known for his horror films and action background but Wan really does a great job capturing the love Thomas and Atlanna have for one another. He also captures the pain both feel as they know that they come from separate worlds and her devotion is to Atlantis.

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We not only get humor, heart and emotion in the first moments of the film but we also get a terrific action scene with Nicole Kidman who kicks major ass. DC really is doing a great job empowering women and you can add Atlanna to that list along with Wonder Woman and Mera. We will get to Mera a little later but Nicole Kidman really impressed me in this film. She is ageless, beautiful and not to be messed with. Arthur gets his fire and spirit from her no doubt.

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The movie quickly shifts focus to setting up the side villain and introduces us to David Hyde who will become Black Manta. Hyde and his father are pirates hijacking a sub and this is when Aquaman swims in to save the day. This part has some really funny moments and some nice fighting sequences. Arthur has picked up right where he left off in Justice League, though he still doesn’t want to miss Happy Hour.

We see Arthur doing heroic acts but he still makes decisions that are unbecoming of a true hero and his actions have consequences which he will later regret. Momoa really wear his emotions well and he comes off very believable as this flawed individual trying to do the right thing. Unsure of his place in this world.

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I said we would get to Mera and once we do she steals the show. Amber Heard is brilliant as Mera and if you weren’t on board with her casting then you will be now. She commands the screen and the visuals when she uses her powers are great. Mera is another strong female DC character who can go toe to toe with the men. We see her put King Orm in his place as well as Arthur. Every time there was some sort of action sequence you knew Mera was going to bring it. Whether she is conjuring up waves, turning wine into spears, or jumping off roof tops, she brought it.

Amber brings beauty and brains to the film. She has good chemistry with Momoa and the two look like they had a lot of fun making this film.

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Wan has done a terrific job capturing the underwater element. The fluid motion of the actors is on point. The way their hair moves and the way they float is remarkable. The visuals under water are something else. Atlantis is a bright colorful futuristic city but it still has very primitive roots. You have sophisticated weaponry and vehicles but you also have Atlantean’s using the creatures of the sea as chariots into battle. They do describe how Atlantis was ahead of everyone else in technology before its demise but from its demise came other advancements and evolution. I’m hoping Wan explores all the awesome features of Atlantis in the sequel.

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This movie isn’t short on action sequences and once we get to Atlantis we see Arthur throw down with some Atlantean guards before going coming face to face with his half brother Orm. From there we see Arthur lose his cool and challenge Orm to a fight. I must say that I fully expected Rocky 3 where Clubber Lang kicks the shit out of Rocky only for Rocky to come back and beat him good but that wasn’t the case. In fact this was one of the best moments of the film. Orm and Arthur one on one and the fight doesn’t disappoint.

There is also some pretty moments with Mera and Arthur and a cool reference to Pinocchio.

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From here the movie really picks up and it gets into this adventure quest, Indiana Jones like sequence. We start to see the relationship between Mera and Arthur start to form. There is a lot of humor, a cameo from Leigh Whannel, and a showdown that we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the movie.

Arthur’s decisions come back to bite him in the ass in the form of a 6’3 maybe 6’5 with helmet mad man hell bent on revenge. Black Manta is so bad ass and he owns Arthur for large portions of this encounter. We see that Black Manta will be a formidable foe in future installments. Yahya Abdul-Mateen does a good job with the time he is given but I wanna see more.

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It wouldn’t be a James Wan film if we didn’t get some horror elements. They talk about the “Trench” a lot in the film and we are finally introduced to the creatures who inhabit the trench. Large scaly fish like creatures with many long sharp teeth.

The whole sequence of Arthur and Mera jumping into the water to swim down to the trench is something to witness. The light of their flare keeping the creatures at bay but you can see the horde just consuming the ocean. It was great in IMAX and I highly recommend you see Aquaman in that format.

The trench creatures are not the only frightening things in the deep. The Karathen is no joke. A creature that could possibly rival Godzilla. I was very impressed and you will see why when you watch the movie.

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The climax of the film has so many hype moments. It’s the Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars. You have brother vs brother, Atlanteans vs Atlanteans in an all out war. Grand spectacle of creatures and action. Patrick Wilson as Ocean Master is so perfect. The costumes in this movie including his are ripped right from the comics. Momoa looks amazing in the classic orange and green Aquaman costume. Momoa also captures a flawed hero in the making quite well. He is torn between both worlds and really does not want to get involved with Atlantis but he will not stand by and let the people he cares about on both sides be destroyed. As stated previously Momoa wears these emotions on his face well. He has all the responsibility and he is not sure how to handle it.

Wan stepped into the world of comic book films and I feel he nailed it first go. His movie is very grand and ambitious so it does try to work in quite a bit of stuff which causes the film to run a tad long in my opinion. I do feel some minutes could have been shaved off. My only other real nitpicks were with some of the cgi moments. The facial age VFX still seems to be a weak link for WB. It’s not mustachegate but the age VFX on Temuera Morrison and Wilem Dafoe looked bad at times.

That’s really my only nitpicks with an other wise terrific film. There is a scene during the climax that many might compare it to a complaint people had with Man of Steel but it didn’t bother. I won’t spoil it but if you notice it comment or hit us up on Twitter.

It’s not an MCU phase 1 film like some compared it to. It’s much grander than that. Aquaman is quite thrilling and it’s lead by a great cast who really worked hard on this film. Wan and company have something to be proud of and a lot more to look forward to. Wan made Aquaman cool and he is no longer the joke of the DC hero roster.

Long Live The King! 4/5

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