Review : Aquaman

A strong man is strongest alone, a sentiment proven by investigating the power of Arthur Curry in his solo film away from Justice League. But will his new-found strength create a movie that will wow audiences worldwide?

Director James Wan’s film Aquaman dives deeper into the divided kingdoms of land and sea. Orm (Patrick Wilson), the king of Atlantis and younger brother to Arthur Curry, seeks powers and control by uniting the seven kingdoms of the sea to invade the surface world. The only way to halt the rising seas of war is for Arthur (Jason Momoa) to take his place as king and overthrow his brother’s throne.

This film holds a precious place in Queensland’s heart having been filmed in our backyard, but while experience the premiere one can see that it stands more precious with the people of islander descent. From performing the Haka at the LA premiere and by incorporating Momoa’s heritage in brief moments of the movie, it makes the film something more than a summer block buster. However, it is certainly something that a sequel should adopt more of.

In true DC Warner Bros. fashion, we have ourselves a story that is crammed full and two and a half hours long. From producer logo to credits, Aquaman is a constant barrage of story and information, quickly moving from scene to scene. There isn’t much time for the audience to breath and revel in the beauty that this film really is which is an unfortunate consequence of a heavy world building script.

The script itself caused some unnatural dialogue and a tirade of information that was difficult to grasp. But the difficulty in understanding the lengthy expositions is not solely due to the script. It is also, unfortunately, hindered by the stylisation of speech underwater.

To better distinguish earth from sea, underwater dialogue was filtered in such a way that it was muffled with a slight echo. Why they did this is understandable and reminiscent of (but not as extreme as) someone actually speaking underwater. In theory, it’s clever, but in practice it made some conversations hard to understand.

The same critique can be said for the underwater visuals. With water continuously in motion, light would bend and thus what one sees would distort. This slight distortion of the underwater visuals is not used in a heavy-handed manner, and, again, it’s clever in theory. But there were times that an enlarged forehead distracted from the story at hand.

These aspects did depreciate the film, but it was the actors, the explosive action, and the vibrant locations that made for an incredible spectacle.

The movie begins with Arthur’s parents, played by Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison, who were de-aged with some amazing visual effects. The technology hasn’t yet reached the point of perfection, but its use in Aquaman is easily the best I have seen.

My biggest fear going into this film was how the characters would move underwater. The cost involved in filming such scenes is extravagant and one reason behind the downfall of a Bioshock movie. However, Aquaman has succeeded in creating adequate motion for the actors with only some moments creating distracting imagery. Strangely enough, these can nearly always be associated with Vulko (Willem Defoe). The reasoning behind his lower quality CGI is beyond me, especially when most other characters were very fitting in their environments.

There are easily some moments that fell prey to being cliché which were heightened by dramatic cinematography. But these are barely a blink in the extravagant design of Aquaman’s world boasted beautifully by Wan’s directing eye.

As seen in the trailer, the rooftop chase engrossed the audience with its phenomenal sweeping visuals and scrolling rooftops. Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) felt right at home in his large helmet and glowing eyes, and really was a formidable foe to Arthur and Mera (Amber Heard).

If you haven’t yet delved into the comic book world of Aquaman, Arthur and Mera are about as classic as Superman and Lois Lane. Although there wasn’t a strong chemistry between the actors on screen, the pair shared what would be the best superhero kiss in cinematic history. Move over Spiderman and Mary Jane, you’ve got competition!

Unfortunately, there are a lot of major moments already shared within the trailer, but nothing beats seeing it on the big screen. The grand scale and explosive battles need to be seen in the cinema to truly appreciate the crazy amount of action that this film holds.

James Wan’s Aquaman is an amazing visual journey into the depths of Atlantis that shows Arthur Curry to be a more than capable superhero after the divisive Justice League film. The story is laden with exposition and information, but the visuals and actions will be enough to leave audiences in awe.

Review by Brittany Howarth

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