Aquaman Review

By Lucas Owens ’19

{Minor Spoilers Ahead}

Aquaman, for a long time, was the butt of many jokes. From his early comic experiences to the old Superfriends cartoon, he was nothing more than a dainty looking dude who could talk to fish. However, this all changed when DC Comics decided to make Aquaman more of a demagogue in nature, and improved many of his flawed character traits. I am very happy to say that this version of the King of the Seven Seas meets that bar set for him and then some behind outstanding director James Wan (Saw, Insidious, Furious 7).

Aquaman is a fun ride from start to finish, but that does not mean it is without its flaws. For starters, the story started to drag out at times, and some portions of it felt unnecessary. Aquaman comes in at a surprisingly long 2 hours and 23 minutes, but I personally felt that it could have been trimmed down to under two hours. While the action scenes were for the most part incredibly fun, well-choreographed, and outstandingly shot, there are a lot of them. The story ultimately progresses through action sequences to move the plot along, not giving a lot of time for the theater-goer to process the story.

Another small nitpick for me personally is the CGI in some scenes. Some scenes have absolutely outstanding CGI, such as one where Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) fight sea monsters on a boat and below water, but some CGI lacks. Some of the movements of people underwater look off if you pay attention to how they are moving, and some hair, specifically Nereus’ (Dolph Lundgren) flowing hair underwater is off-putting and personally took me out of the scenes. In addition, there was an interesting choice made with King Orm’s/Ocean Master’s (Patrick Wilson) mask, which remains static for all but one scene, where the eyes unnecessarily come down to show displeasure with the current situation he was in. However, this is all understandable for its production cost, which at $160 million is very low for a movie which is one of the hardest undertakings in recent times for its needed visual effects. Some other small complaints from me are that the editing at times, specifically its use of a jump cut to the past for half of a second and some bad dubbing, also took me out of the plot, and the music, especially Pitbull’s cover of Africa by Toto, Ocean to Ocean, was poor.

However, what Aquaman has in CGI and some editing flaws it makes up for in its action sequences, where director James Wan and cinematographer Don Burgess really shine. Aquaman’s action sequences take influence from Asian films to make every scene shine. The scenes with heavy amounts of action in them oftentimes do not cut for a long period of time. Instead, the camera will either pan, swirl, or flip to another part of the scene to keep the viewer in the scene for as long as it goes on. One specific standout to me was the scene where Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) attacks Aquaman and Mera in Sicily, and the camera follows the action intently, giving amazing shots from a variety of angles.

Overall, Aquaman is a fun blockbuster movie that should be seen in large format, specifically IMAX, which it was partially shot in, to get the most spectacle possible. Writers Geoff Johns, James Wan, and Will Beall do an outstanding job making every character’s motivation make sense, and for all of its shortfalls, Aquaman makes up for it with amazingly shot action sequences and stupendous performances from Jason Momoa and Amber Heard. Aquaman will have you screaming “My Man!” from start to finish.