James Momoa Aquaman
Beefy Jason Momoa in Aquaman

AQUAMAN. Directed by James Wan, with Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Matten II, Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman.

THERESA SMITH reviews

Aquaman is a comic book hero origins story that drops us into the middle of our eponymous hero’s story. It is an old-fashioned way of telling a story but it delivers on the high-octane energy and fishy action and entertains along the way.

While Arthur Curry/Aquaman is a DC character, this film decidedly does not follow the angst-ridden, dark path of Batman or Superman. It is much more coherent than Suicide Squad, and while not quite as polished as Wonder Woman, it is still a pop delight.

Jason Momoa embraces the role with a wink and welcome drop of the shirt, gamefully striking a pose at the right moment and relishing all the jokes.

Aquaman review

This version of Arthur Curry is already a crime fighter with no greater goal than having a fun time and protecting what he sees as his own. The film gives us all the details of his parentage via Arthur’s voice-over bookending the story, a glimpse into how he trained to fight, his abilities and why he is reluctant to engage with the underwater city of Atlantis.

That is, until the decidedly red-headed Mera (Heard) rises up from the ocean to tell him he has to stop his half-brother Orm’s (Wilson) plans to attack Earth. The two have an easy chemistry as they try to figure each other out and through their interaction we learn more about the culture of the people of Atlantis.

They set off on a quest and a lot happens: running and screaming, fights and quips, things explode and the story plods along. It’s a mad-cap ride above and below sea and the underwater sequences must be amazing to view on a proper screen. Heads up, try not to watch this in a cinema which doesn’t have a functioning 3d screen or it will be murky.

While the score is instantly forgettable there are some fun song choices with some eliciting a titter from the audience (if they happen to be older than a millennial). There are also plenty of sly jokes in Aquaman – visual and dialogue-dependent.

The plot is very much driven by stacking obstacle after obstacle in the intrepid duo’s path and having them swim really fast right through it.

While the story is about how Arthur embraces his Atlantean side and becomes Aquaman in more than just name, the character doesn’t really grow too much – this film is sort of a scene-setter. It makes a hole in our film world for a new, fun character. Not all comic book characters have unsolvable mommy issues and sometimes embracing the cheese is a relief.

What: Aquaman film review
Aquaman classification: 13 DLPV
Aquaman Running time: 136 minutes
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