No matter what your personal feelings on the DCEU movies so far, you have to admit there have been some missteps along the way. ‘Martha’ and whatever Lois was up to with that Kryptonite spear in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Cavill's moustache and the lack of Darkseid in Justice League. Even the great Wonder Woman had a slightly disappointing CGI climax.
For the most part, James Wan avoids such pitfalls, although, he may have let things get a little too goofy by the end.
After introducing Arthur's origins and the interrupted love story between his parents Tom Curry (Morrison) and Queen Atlanna (a kick-ass Kidman), Arthur will need to embrace his Atlantean heritage to prevent the rise of his half-brother Orm (a terrific Wilson), who plans to wage war on the world of the ‘surface dwellers’. Along with Amber Heard's Mera Arthur will embark on a quest for mythical Atlantean artefact while dealing with interruptions from long time Aquaman nemesis Black Manta.
Arthur's careless actions early in the film lead directly to Black Manta becoming an antagonist but while plot points like these may have gone unaddressed in previous DCEU movies, here Arthur actually gets to express regret over his decision. The same approach is taken throughout, with any apparently convenient plot developments being addressed satisfyingly later.
As to be expected from the director of Furious 7, the action is well handled and it's only when the story relocates to the Sahara do you realise that a large section of the movie has already taken place ‘underwater’. The undersea effects may not convince anyone that the actors are actually underwater, but they do a good enough job of making the alien undersea world convincing.
Momoa and Heard are great their roles, although Heard seems to be accompanied by an Evanescence knock-off whenever she fights, which is weird in a film that already features Depeche Mode, Roy Orbison and Toto on the soundtrack. Momoa delivers the same charming tough guy with a heart of gold shtick that has been his stock and trade since Ronon on Stargate: Atlantis, although thankfully the final film ditches the CHEE-HOO's that littered the trailers and made him sound like Maui from Moana. Patrick Wilson almost steals the show as Orm/Ocean Master as he gleefully channels Russell Crowe in Gladiator when addressing his Atlantean subjects.
It's only in the third act do proceedings almost jump the shark, with a hidden world that feels like a nod to Warlords of Atlantis and a ridiculously massive battle that tries to outdo all the battle scenes from Lord of the Rings movies, at once, underwater and that's before the Kaiju turns up. Mercifully the scale is reduced to a more human size for the last action sequence which allows Momoa and Wilson to show off their posing and trident skills, which are considerable. The film is sure to be a rich source of desktop backgrounds.
Wan has delivered a solid aquaman film, something you would not have thought possible until recently, building upon the most well-known aspects of Aquaman lore. Even the much-mocked ability to talk to fish ends up integral to the plot! Watch it on as big a screen as you can (and also stay seated for a mid-credits sequence).
AQUAMAN / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: JAMES WAN / SCREENPLAY: DAVID LESLIE JOHNSON-MCGOLDRICK, WILL BEALL, GEOFF JOHNS, JAMES WAN/ STARRING: JASON MOMOA, AMBER HEARD, PATRICK WILSON, WILLEM DAFOE, TEMUERA MORRISON, NICOLE KIDMAN / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 12TH
Expected Rating: 6 out of 10