by Tom Clocker
Aquaman finds a nice middle ground amidst the Seven Seas. The comic book film genre has been all over the place. The entries jump from the really dark Christian Bale’s Batman films to the over-the-top campy Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films. As an audience, it is really hard to tell what you will get when you walk through the doors. Well, rest easy, weary film universe traveler. Aquaman finds a comfortable spot right in the middle, similar to the recent Avengers films of the Marvel universe.
Arthur is a man stuck between two worlds. Ok, so technically he is a “metahuman”, but that didn’t sound as good for an opening line. His father is human and his mother is Atlantian. In fact, she was the queen of Atlantis, which means Arthur is of royal blood. But, if there’s one thing we all know about Atlantians, it’s that they do not forgive or forget (you knew that, right?). The king and people of Atlantis could not forgive Arthur’s mother for her “indiscretion”. She left little Arthur and his father behind and went back to the sea. She felt it was the only way to protect them. Eventually, little Arthur grew up. Way up. He spent the majority of his time on land, amongst the humans. But he was also a protector of the sea and those that traveled it. He seemed content to live out his days this way. Unfortunately, King Orm of Atlantis (Patrick Wilson, Watchmen), Arthur’s half-brother, had other plans. He was attempting to unite the kingdoms of the seas in order to wage an all-out war with the humans on land. There is only one way to stop the impending devastation. And, let’s just say, there’s another legend involving a man named Arthur that plays out a lot like the story in Aquaman.
Aquaman is full of amazing visuals and intense action. The screening I attended was in 3D and this treatment was well-done also. There are not many “pop out” scenes, but the 3D adds a lot of depth to the already incredible underwater scenes. Those scenes remind me of the beautiful space settings from director Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets. Atlantis and the underwater world that director James Wan created are simply gorgeous.
Of course, you can’t have a comic book film without some serious action scenes. Once again, Wan does not disappoint. Many of these scenes are 100% CGI (computer-generated imagery), and at times that is obvious. But it would be pretty hard to get Jason Momoa (Arthur/Aquaman) and Patrick Wilson to have a trident battle underwater and make that look good. So, just roll with the CGI. There are also some great action sequences on land and some pretty epic underwater army battles.
Aquaman throws in just enough comic relief to give the film an overall fun feel without it feeling forced or overused. The characters have dark enough backstories to make them flawed and relatable, but not so much that we get depressed hearing about it. The villains are evil enough for us to dislike them, but not so much that it makes our skin crawl and feel like we need to take a shower.
The couple places where Aquaman stumbles probably has to do with the cast and some of the corresponding dialogue. Patrick Wilson as Atlantis’s King Orm is a miss. The character is really tough to play. The audience must be against him, but not wish too much pain or death to come his way. Honestly, it would take a brilliant performance with much better dialogue to nail this character. Wilson’s portrayal with the given lines does not come close to where it needs to be. Amber Heard as Mera, or as I like to call her, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, is obviously gorgeous. But, Mera is the main female protagonist and a major plot vehicle. Heard does better with her character than Wilson does with his, but for every good scene she puts out, there is a weak one. She doesn’t hurt the film, but she definitely doesn’t help it to be great either.
All in all, Aquaman is a very good entry into the comic book film genre and one of the best from the DC universe. Jason Momoa does very well bringing this character to life in his own film and I look forward to Aquaman’s future appearances. This is a definite “must see” in theaters. 3D is your call. I’m sure it will look great in 2D as well. I do not have a comparison at this time. So, go check it out and enjoy a well-balanced, fun comic book film.