Aquaman is the Nicholas Cage of superhero movies. Wild, unpredictable, off-beat, all over the board, crazy, funny, entertaining, and you’ll never really know if it’s bad or good.
If anything, Aquaman is a gift. If this wasn’t a year with a great line-up of superhero movies, this would be the best superhero movie of the year, and not by default.
It seems that every Worlds of DC movie not involving Batman or Superman (tragically) has something great about them. Not perfect, but great.
Aquaman feels like everyone was just given free reign to do what they want, so they just made it the most insane concept ever. At the base of it it’s the usual hero’s journey, but it’s one that on the surface has you jetsetting under and over the sea, Aquaman punctuated by guitar riffs, one cartoonish pirate villain who customises a suit given to him by a secret underwater race in order to stop the true king of Atlantis from taking the throne from his half brother therefore putting a stop to a war against sea and land, a sea creature voiced by Julie Andrews, and a cover of “Africa” by Toto.
It’s something saying that the soundtrack is more diverse and more fun than the work of Hans Zimmer, or Junkie XL, but it is. Whether it’s a cool Aquaman theming, or the left-field choice in covers, or the neon-fuelled Atlantean City music, all the choices are out there and work, which is the lifeblood of all of this movie.
Given the reigns to James Wan was the best idea. Wan, probably always more well known for this horror work at the time of writing this, also gave the world Furious 7, the first time the seventh film of a franchise is seen as second best/the best. Like that movie, Wan takes everything up multiple notches, crafting an utterly cartoonish and more accurately, utterly comic book feeling movie.
The colours of this movie leap out of you just like the colours would leap off the page. We’re not working with darkness and shadow, we’re not dark and gritty, and the more we strive away from that in superhero cinema the better.
Aquaman is fun. Plain and simple. It is utterly batshit crazy (it seems to be the season for batshit crazy given my last two reviews) and it embraces it so strongly. It knows just how ridiculous it is.
The entire cast bring this movie alive, but goddamn does Jason Mamoa lean perfectly into his characterisation here. It’s the surfer dude Aquaman you’ve seen before, but here it works perfectly for the tone.
Clearly everyone has realised that if Aquaman was gonna have a film, he’d have the potential ridicule aimed right at him if it was attempted to be made seriously. Pop culture has filled the world with Aquaman jokes, but by the time you even get to Aquaman getting a version of his iconic costume, the laughs aren’t in ridicule, it’s in the ridiculous of the world and being baffled of actually liking and enjoying the movie.
This film is going to be divisive. Not in a critical way, not in an offensive way, but in the admission to whether you actually had as much fun as I did with this movie.
It’s got its flaws. I wish there was more Black Manta, I wish the film was shorter, despite my fun and enjoyment, I wish there was more bonkers sea war stuff, I wish the 80s adventure peppered with romance sequence carried through a bit longer, I wish for all of DC to embrace this tone. It’s not Marvel Imitation Syndrome, it’s going in the ridiculous comic direction that’s just fun and over the top and true to the larger than life superhumans of the DC Universe.
It’s hard not to keep coming back and saying that Aquaman is such an enjoyable and confounding-ly weird but great time at the movies. It should have failed on every level, and it’s potentially not going to be a financial or critical hit, but really, this is another slice of how these movies should be. Shazam! looks to be in the same direction, so I’m down. I am legitimately excited to see what else comes in this new world of the DC Universe.
And you’d think that of all things, Aquaman would be the least likely place I would have thought that.
A controversial, in most eyes barely scrapes if at all,