**THE FOLLOWING POST INCLUDES SPOILERS FOR AQUAMAN. IF YOU’VE NOT WATCHED AQUAMAN AND YOU WANT TO REMAIN SPOILER FREE STOP READING NOW.**
Aquaman is now in cinemas. The movie – the latest entry in the Worlds of DC (formerly known as the DCEU) – is directed by James Wan, stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson and Nicole Kidman and is set shortly after the events of 2017’s Justice League.
But is it any good?
Before I talk about my thoughts on Aquaman, let me make things quite clear when it comes to DC movies – I’m not a huge fan of the recent films. I liked Man of Steel (2013) and Wonder Woman (2017), but I thought Batman Vs Superman (2016), Suicide Squad (2016) and Justice League (2017) were a disappointment and I had no real desire to watch Aquaman.
So yeah, going into Aquaman I was less than excited about this movie. The previous films have largely been misfires and Aquaman is not one of my favourite characters.
Coming out of this movie I can’t say my opinion has changed all that much. That’s not to say Aquaman is a bad film, it’s not, in fact it’s one of the best entries in the current run of DC movies, but in many ways this is faint praise as it is one of the best largely by default.
Before I discuss why I wasn’t sold on Aquaman, I’ll talk about the positive points first. I feel it’s important to highlight these points because Aquaman did get a lot of things right where other DC movies have failed.
First up, the visuals.
As far as the visuals go, Aquaman is amazing. A-MAY-ZING.
This film deserves to be nominated for every technical award going. It also deserves to win every award it is nominated for – it is simply stunning to look at.
From the underwater scenes (of which there were many) to the vast collection of sea creatures (including scary ones), the effects were sublime. Sure, I was under no illusions that I was watching anything other than a mass of CGI, but unlike the other DC movies I didn’t feel like I was viewing scenes from a bad computer game.
But effects could only go so far – they needed a great cast and that’s exactly what Aquaman had. Wilson and Kidman were excellent, bringing life to two key characters in Aquaman’s life, but it was Momoa who sold this film to me.
Jason Momoa was incredibly likeable as Arthur ‘Aquaman’ Curry – a half-human/half-Atlantian trying to find his place in the world. He managed to take a character who has largely been ridiculed in pop culture and turn him into a strong lead who I wanted to champion.
Regardless of the quality of the DC movies, the casting has largely been its strongest asset and Momoa is perhaps one of the strongest so far. It feels odd for me to say this, as I was ambivalent about him in Justice League, but here he was great and I could see why Zack Snyder cast him for Batman Vs Superman & Justice League.
And speaking of Justice League, bar one mention to the events of that movie, Aquaman did it’s level best to avoid referencing the wider DC Universe. This was such a good thing as all this referencing has not helped to make the other movies any more appealing.
OK, so those were the good points, now here were the problems with Aquaman.
Aquaman was too long. Clocking in at just over two-hours-and-twenty-minutes, at times it was boring.
I checked my watch during the course of the movie and at one point I even started thinking about what shopping I needed to get once the film was over. This shouldn’t happen when I’m watching a $200 million movie!
The reason I found myself losing concentration was because Aquaman was filled with exposition, most of which felt unnecessary. Did I really need to know everything about the history of Atlantis? NO!
There was enough material in Aquaman for two movies and this became evident very quickly, especially when it came to the film’s villains. Take the character, Black Manta for instance – the film’s second villain. Other than to set up Aquaman II, there was simply no reason for him to be in this story.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind Black Manta’s scenes – in fact I loved the Black Manta/Aquaman fight sequence – but the character should have been cut from this film. Dropping him would have shaved a good half-an-hour off the running time and that would have made a big difference.
And talking of shaving time off the movie, perhaps it would have been a good idea to cut back on certain other characters & situations that were highlighted but never developed, such as the crab creatures or the lost dinosaur land. Neither of these elements were properly developed and could easily have been held over for a sequel.
Perhaps the biggest problem I had with the movie was the tone, which was all over the place. At times, I couldn’t tell if this film wanted to be fun or serious or both?
Ultimately, I came out of Aquaman feeling fairly disinterested. As mentioned above, it’s not a bad film, but I know that I have no real desire to watch it again and I wouldn’t rush to recommend it either.
With Aquaman’s arrival, we’re now six movies into this series and I just don’t care what happens next. Sure, I want to see Wonder Woman ’84 and Shazam!, but at this point in time if Warner Bros. were to announce that Aquaman was the end of the road for this movie series, I’d be happy to wave goodbye.