AQUAMAN (2018) delivers thrilling action and an entertaining story

Aquaman is the next entry in DC’s own cinematic universe and follows the titular character post Justice League as he fights for his people both on land and in the sea, with a bit of an origin story weaved into the background.

Based on DC’s overall track record and the recent influx of superhero films I have to say my eagerness to check this one out was dampened. As a result my expectations were pretty low and as it turns out I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It exceeded my expectations in that it has a standard but engaging story, strong lead performances, and a range of action sequences that all feel unique in various ways. Director James Wan has come in and crafted a superhero film that doesn’t stray too far from the typical formula but makes the most of the original elements it has such as the underwater setting. The story does flow really well and never feels like it’s dragging on longer than it should. At 2 hours and 23 minutes long it barely felt like a 2 hour movie which is a testament to how it entertains you beyond thinking about the runtime.

It may be straightforward and you may be able to pick more or less how the whole thing is going to pan out but the fun involved in getting there is more than enough to distract you from that fact. The Atlantis-related storylines all feel very crucial and connect to each other well through various characters and plot points but one side-plot does stand out as being slightly connected but more-so separated. That’s the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) storyline which is tied into the main plot in a small way but still does feel like that one tacked on bit to have a couple more action sequences.

Speaking of the action sequences, each one in here is absolutely stellar. Filmed to appear like one long continuous shot each sequence feels unique in whether they’re underwater, confined to one room, or more of a gunfight as oppose to melee. The fact that each action sequence has an identity of its own makes it all a lot less repetitive and like a fresh experience every time. In terms of the visual effects the scenery and environments are stunning, the way the colours of the cities underwater pop against the darkness of the ocean is great. The visual effects are well polished and blend in well but do stand out in some scenes here and there and maybe one action sequence or two. It’s never bad just takes you out of it momentarily a small handful of times.

But where this film is held together is in the performances from the cast featuring a tonne of talent even in the more limited supporting roles. Jason Momoa is the reason you watch this movie and for good reason. His charm and charisma as Aquaman makes every scene he is in completely worthwhile. This is one casting where he is going to be synonymous with the character for good and there’s no complaints there because he is exceptional. Supporting roles from Willem Dafoeand Amber Heard are all good and make for a number of great scenes in which they interact with each other and/or other characters. When I found out that Patrick Wilson would be playing the villain in King Orm I wasn’t too sure if he’d be able to pull it off but he does a fantastic job. I completely bought him as the big threat and he made a compelling character out of the villain.

All in all Aquaman proves to be a very fun film down to the simple yet entertaining story, fast-paced action sequences, and snippets of humour, some of which work and some don’t. The performances from the lead cast are all strong but Momoa’s Aquaman is an absolute joy to watch across every scene. It’s one of the better films DC has to offer and one I would definitely recommend checking out.

8/10

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