In Theatres: 
Dec 21, 2018
Running Time: 
123 minutes

Every time I see a DC movie I get my hopes up thinking that this will be the one that will turn the Extended Universe around and that Wonder Woman wasn’t just some miraculous one off. I truly want DC Comics to succeed on the same level as Marvel Studios has done with the MCU. Unfortunately, Aquaman is not the aquatic savior I had hoped it would be. While its stunning visuals and underwater combat make it a vast improvement over many of the other DCEU films, the overcrowded story and campy dialogue make it far more exhausting than exciting.


The son of the Queen of Atlantis and a human lighthouse keeper, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) has had one foot planted among the Atlanteans and one among the humans despite never feeling like he belonged to either. But when the current ruler of Atlantis, Arthur's half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), threatens both the land and the sea with a war, he must rise up and claim his rightful place on the throne. With the help of Princess Mera (Amber Heard), he must find the Trident of Atlan in order to defeat Orm and become the king he was destined to be.


There is a lot going on in Aquaman. The main storyline is Orm trying to unite the seven seas, thus becoming Ocean Master and commanding the greatest army in the world, but crammed into that is Arthur’s quest for the trident as well as another tangential plot involving his nemesis Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a pirate treasure hunter who blames Aquaman for the death of the father and will do whatever it take to get his revenge. The story is further complicated by flashbacks highlighting the relationship between Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison). Even though Momoa’s Aquaman made his debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, this is his official origin story as it largely ignores the events of the previous films.


What Aquaman does get right are the visuals and fighting sequences. When Aquaman first visited Atlantis in Justice League, everything looked bleak and washed out. Not here. The world of Atlantis is vibrant and colorful, and when paired with the electro-pounding soundtrack reminds me a lot of Tron: Legacy. It’s a dazzling spectacle that triumphantly stands out among the DCEU. Same goes for the underwater fights. Almost all of the high class people in the film fight with tridents, and it lends itself to some interesting battles. The way they attack and block is different than say a sword or other weapon, and throw that all together in an underwater battleground where they can move in any direction at will and it’s hard not to become mesmerized. Everything looks cool. But those looks quickly fade and what remains is cringe-inducing.


Aquaman’s dialogue is full of cheesy one-liners and predictable tropes that are difficult to ignore. Some odd music pairings during some scenes, like when Black Mantis is build his suit, don’t help either. To his credit, Jason Momoa fully embraces the campiness of the script and goes all out in his acting. Still, the humor never quite lands right and audiences are left wincing at the results.


Aquaman is an exhausting two hours and 20 minutes of film, and you’ll likely need a nap afterwards. It’s not as bad as say Justice League or Suicide Squad, but it’s also nowhere near as good as Wonder Woman. Landing somewhere in the middle, the film doesn’t make quite the splash I was hoping for.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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