by Hans A. Carpenter
Release Date: December 21
Director: James Wan
Starring: Jason Manoa, Amber Heard, and Wilem Dafoe
Mister Marquee Says: I love Mermaid Man
Aquaman, Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa), is the son of the Queen of the underwater kingdom Atlantis (Nichole Kidman) and a human lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison). His mother was forced to return to the sea to marry the King of Atlantis when Arthur was an infant. When Arthur’s half brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) plans to destroy the surface, Arthur is forced to journey to Atlantis to claim his birthright as king.
Finally, DC has done it. They made me feel feelings in a DCEU (DC Expanded Universe) movie and walk out satisfied. Even with Wonder Woman, “the good one”, I walked out mildly entertained. This is the first true homerun the DCEU has hit. The fairytale love story between Thomas Curry and Queen Atlanna in the opening minutes beats the pants off of every single frame of the rest of the DCEU. DC heroes tend to be gods, and the DCEU movies have had a hard time making them relatable. Aquaman could have fallen into this pit, with a movie about the heir to an underwater kingdom and mythical tridents, but instead embraces the mythical nature of the story. It plays more like a fairytale than a superhero movie, and that is 100% the right call.
There is no attempt to make it grounded or gritty. Instead, what we get feels more like a Greek epic poem under the sea, with a hero who does not seek power forced to take it for the good of the people he loves. Jason Mamoa is extremely charismatic, and Arthur Curry is a character for whom it is easy to root. He’s a child of two worlds, born of a love that could save the world. Mamoa is insanely likable and, while other DC heroes are overly brooding and aloof (Superman, Batman, Cyborg), or downright annoying (Flash), Aquaman is really hard not to love.
James Wan has migrated from horror to superhero blockbusters with flying colors. He gives a crispness of action that the DC movies have lacked thus far and, while the final scenes do get bogged down a bit with too much CGI (it’s under the water…), it isn’t anywhere near the ugly, chaotic mess that Man of Steel, Justice League, or Suicide Squad ended on. At the end of the day, certain sequences are a bit messy and rushed, and the effects can be a bit burdensome, but Aquaman is still an extremely enjoyable movie. It’s pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Also, Wilem Dafoe is a good guy. That’s just…something.