Aquaman (2018) Screenwriters: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Will Beall
Directed by: James Wan Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 2 hrs. 23 min.
Until now, people probably never gave the role of Aquaman in live-action a ton of thought. Excluding those in the industry. It’s a massive undertaking to decently portray a mythical city in the vast depths of the ocean. In real life, and in film and TV, we focus more on our planet itself, the center of it, and certainly space. Our oceans are not a realm we look at too closely until now.
James Wan tackles the challenges of bringing Atlantis beyond comics and animated series with vast scale, explanation, and vibrance. Is it perfect? No. I have questions about continuity with other DC films, some cultural ones, and some have to do with physics. I don’t do physics… still, it’s an impressive first take on Atlantis and underwater film in general, in live-action.
A lot of water, CGI, and creative camera work let you enjoy a perspective of underwater living, swimming, and fighting. How do you fight underwater? With tridents, if you’re Atlantian. Basically, a giant pitchfork. Some interesting contraptions are rigged up to help with this, which is its own form of movie-making-magic. Or torture…
The trailer for this film sets the tone for an action-mystery. It’s true. It’s a journey of discovery about many things and not just for the main character. The central conflict Arthur Curry/Aquaman, played by Jason Momoa, faces is stopping his half-brother Orm, played by Patrick Wilson, from waging war on the surface world. He is aided in his journey by Amber Heard’s character, Mera. These supporting roles depict characters vital to Aquaman’s origin story and are excellent additions to bring this universe to life. A villain figure more prominent than Orm throughout the DC universe is Black Manta. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II takes on the iconic villain and costume of this character with gusto!
Speaking of costumes, I appreciated not seeing Mera in a more revealing costume style, evident in other iterations. One, women don’t need to be half nude to be remarkable. Second, all that water work on set… that had to get cold. I know that sounds two-faced next to Aquaman, having no top on for most of the film. Yes, they’re Atlantian and are supposed to be able to tolerate it. The characters, yes, the actors, not so much. Between this film and Justice League’s water scenes with Jason Momoa, he might be part fish-man at this point. He brings a “don’t mess with me” presence to the character on screen, unlike past versions-but water doesn’t care.
I had to stop writing at one point because I had this mental image of Jason Momoa in the original Aquaman costume design. I stopped to laugh. It couldn’t be helped. All of him in a green and orange spandex suit. It’s in your head now too. You’re welcome! Seriously, this film’s costume design is a nod to the original colors but gives him more of a presence, one that commands respect without being over the top. I dig it.
So should Aquaman be on your watch list? Yes! It’s a fun watch. It’s not serious in the way the previous DC films are but can tie other things together. Really this should have come out before the Justice League movie. Could there be more character development in areas? Absolutely! That’s the benefit of being part of a universe with teams; it gives you more time to flesh out characters. Aquaman will be no exception, and I look forward to seeing his evolution on screen.
-a pen lady