TL;DR : Go for Jason, stay for the CGI.
Let’s be real. As far as the DC cinematic Universe as we know it now, nothing will beat Wonder Woman. Whatever flaws it may have had, it is a fantastic film and nothing that Warner Brothers has put out since Superman has been good. So I really wanted to like Aquaman. He was my favorite character in the old 1973 Super Friends series, and even in the Justice League reboot when he was boisterous and somewhat silly, I liked him. I mean super strength and phenomenal swimming skills are awesome. But talking to fish? That’s a pretty handy power to have when you live next to an ocean.
Aquaman on the whole is a fun film. There’s a little bit of everything in it, and that is also it’s flaw. Watching the film I felt as if the writers and director looked at all successful action films from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to Black Panther, and said, how do we make this work? I will admit that I am not as well versed in the DC Universe as I am with Marvel, and I know that they all have similar story lines and origin stories, but I couldn’t keep from comparing it to movies that were successful before it. I enjoyed watching the movie, but I kept thinking, hey, this looks reminds me of Hunt for Red October, or hey, this is like Superman.
Story aside, the acting was what you expect from powerhouse actors given a halfway decent script. I was pleased with the chemistry between Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman; their few scenes were among the better ones. Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, and Patrick Wilson represented Atlantean royalty well, though the separate introductions of both Mera (Amber) and Nuidis Vulko (Willem) were a little confusing. Even Dolph Lundgren seems to be having a good year and I was pleasantly surprised by his performance. I was less pleased with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta, but I chalk that up to the lines he was given.
The script. Oh the script. It had it’s moments. It successfully told a story from start to finish, but there were several times (and this may have just been the editing of the film) I was confused as to how and why the characters were in the situation they were in. The dialogue was often painfully groan worthy, though Jason can say “Permission to board” over his shoulder with a sly smile anytime he wants. The action sequences made up for whatever lacked in dialogue. There were only a few scenes involving traditional guns, which is always a plus in my book. The rest involved hand to hand combat, tridents, or underwater creatures and merpeople using advanced technology. You may not be on the edge of your seat, but you be highly entertained.
Visually the film is gorgeous. The beauty of an underwater world we’ve only seen through Jacque Cousteau’s lens was brought to life with fantastic CGI. The city, the various tribes, the creatures were all wonderfully designed and executed. The bright colors were a welcome change from the dark and gritty look we tend to see with DC films.
Jason Momoa is Aquaman. Patrick Wilson certainly looked like how traditional Aquaman was designed, but Jason is a perfect blend of land and sea. His ease with being both brooding son and devil may care protector of the sea translated well on screen. And his stunning good looks don’t hurt either.
If you are on the fence about seeing the film, at 2 hours and 22 minutes in length, catch a matinee. It’s fun and beautiful to look at. You will be reminded that we need to take care of our seas, and that sometimes your best super power is wanting to do what’s right.
Now see what He Said.