By Kaylee Brewster
Two-and-a-half out of four
“Aquaman” is a fish out of water in the DC film universe as it moves away from DC’s usual solemnity for a fresh, fun take, which serves its audience well.
Aquaman’s story begins before his life even starts, when light keeper Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) meets Atlanna, (Nicole Kidman) an underwater Atlantean queen. Their son, Arthur (Jason Momoa), is born.
He is a man of two worlds, part Atlantean royalty and part “surface dweller,” a derogatory term Atlanteans use for us humans. Since he doesn’t belong to either world he spends most of his time doing what he wants and protecting the seas.
That is until an Atlantean named Mera (Amber Heard) tells Arthur of the plot his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) has to overthrow the surface world. In order to save both worlds, he has to take up his rightful place as king.
Momoa is perfect as Arthur. He carries himself with an air of anti-nobility, not wanting to claim the throne but being forced to. He jokes and smiles and seems to have fun beating up the bad guys. He looks the part too. When he throws a human halfway across the room, Momoa’s height and muscles make you wonder how much is special effects and how much is his own brute strength.
The special effects are the other success of “Aquaman.” A movie that takes place mostly underwater is nearly impossible to film and almost as hard make look good. The special effects team under director James Wan succeeds. It looks as if Arthur and the Atlanteans are underwater, even distorting their voices to sound as if the words are being spoken through water, without looking too cheesy.
However, “Aquaman” faces a choppy plot. It seems a simple dethroning is too simple for this hero’s introduction. There is a quest for a trident to quickly do the job and a side plot of revenge from a former Aquaman enemy that receives undeserved attention. The revenge storyline serves as a distraction to the main plot and is only necessary in planting the seeds for a future sequel. The search for the trident works as it impacts the final act, but there are times where the story appears to slow down for some exposition, flashback and accepting-who-you-are character development. The story goes up and down like waves. Thankfully, by the final act there’s smooth sailing to the end.
“Aquaman” has its rough patches to be sure, but there is strength in its central character, visuals and entertainment value. Like its hero, “Aquaman” embraces itself for what the movie truly is, a fun, non-serious DC film.