The DCEU has been under fire since its inception. Lackluster reviews for Man of Steel, more of the same for Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, slightly better reviews for Suicide Squad, wildly popular Wonder Woman, and then the movie we dare not mention (Justice League, I had to mention it), have ultimately led to a slow start for our favorite franchise. In some ways, Aquaman is a make or break movie for the DCEU. Does it live up to the hype? Let’s dive in to this NON-SPOILER review.

Let me start out by saying Aquaman is a visually stunning masterpiece. Think Star Wars underwater. Multiple VFX companies worked on this film, and the final results are absolutely mesmerizing. James Wan has crafted a world in which I desperately need more of.

There was a lot of myth making going on in this film, and I believe we got just a taste of Aquaman’s world in this film. James Wan really dug in and studied the world of Aquaman. You can tell he took much inspiration from Geoff Johns run from the New 52, and took it to the next level. It is literally Star Wars or Lord of the Rings level world building.

The city of Atlantis has a little bit of everything going on. You see futuristic buildings, and ships that take their build based on sea life around them (think ships that look like turtles, or manta rays). Some of the different Atlanteans are strange and wonderful looking. The Brine and the Trench are standouts and look awesome on screen.

James Wan brings his horror roots to the movie as well. There are several jump-in-your-seat moments that he pulls off really well. He also has a real eye for action. The action in this film is well done, and constant throughout the film. There literally is no good time to get up and go to the bathroom without missing a plot point, are incredible action sequence. In fact Nicole Kidman near the beginning of the movie, is involved in one of the best fight scenes of the movie.

AQUAMAN HEROES

Jason Momoa and Amber Heard are fantastic in this film. They had some touch-and-go moments in the beginning, but I think that is partly due to the fact that they don’t really know each other. Over the course of the film, their chemistry builds, and over the course of future movies, are really going to be a “power couple” in the DCEU.

Momoa owns the role of Aquaman now. I remember when he was announced as the character for Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I thought Snyder was absolutely crazy. Momoa has since made me eat my words. I thought he was good and had a new different take on the character in Justice League, but he goes on to cement this in his solo film, more than likely altering the character forever. Mark my words, you will start seeing the character change in the comics and animation, to more closely resemble Momoa and his demeanor as Aquaman.

Mera’s character was first introduced in Justice League with just a bit role, but really comes into her own in the film as well. I thought there might be chemistry issues between her and Momoa, especially from the Sahara scene shown in the teaser clip. Never fear, because that scene really sets up the beginning of their relationship, and gets much better from there on.

Amber Heard as Mera in Aquaman
Amber Heard as Mera in Aquaman

Willem DaFoe is great as Orm’s advisor Vulko. I thought I would have a hard time with him, because when I hear his voice I automatically think Green Goblin, but that was never the case.

Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman were surprisingly great as a couple in the film, and have some of the most heartwarming scenes in the movie.

AQUAMAN VILLAINS

The villains stack up as some of the best in the DCEU to date. While Black Manta has an integral part in the film, he is not the main villain, and doesn’t have much screen time at all. The scenes that he is in, are exciting and aggressive, leading me to want to see more character development of him in the future.

Orm is a standout almost at Zod level. To me, Zod has been the best villain in the DCEU to this point. Orm isn’t quite there, but he is second best. He has a real reason to do and act the way he does, and could be seen as a hero by those in Atlantis. The best villains always think they are the heroes, and Orm fits the bill in this regard.

Wan sets up everything perfectly giving real motives behind each villains reason for being bad. Orm’s character arc is nice to see, and has its moments of being touching, outside of some of the villainous things he does.

NEGATIVES

Even good movies have some sort of negative aspects, and Aquaman is not without them. One of the biggest issues I had was some of the comedic moments of the film. Some were just not well-timed. There were serious moments in the film, when a joke would come out, and would end up falling flat. Some just felt totally out of place.

For the most part, I thought that the acting was top-notch, but there were a few moments that really took me out of the film. There is a scene in the film that focuses on Arthur when he was about sixteen or so, and he was played by Kekoa Kekumano. I felt this scene was a bit on the stiff side, with some rather unbelievable feelings. Even Nicole Kidman had a few moments that felt a little flat as well.

MUSIC

The soundtrack was composed by Rupert Gregson-Williams (who did the music for Wonder Woman as well). I was truly enthralled by the music in this film. There was a heavy synthesizer vibe going on, and some fantastic songs chosen for a few scenes in the film namely by Skylar Grey and another by Pitbull. Not so much of a fan of the Pitbull one, but Grey’s theme is mesmerizing and represents the film so well.

It seems that the synthesizer is making a comeback now, most likely thanks in part to Stranger Things. When traveling through Atlantis, you will notice the synth, which makes since seeing how advanced and futuristic the city of Atlantis looks.

Atlanteans on Sharks
Atlanteans on Sharks

FINAL THOUGHTS

Aquaman is a visually stunning movie that will thrill you enough by its visuals, that it really doesn’t matter about plot holes or other issues. It only makes it better that the story is decent and has some very compelling performances by some of its cast. After only one viewing I can’t really rank it just yet in the DCEU, but my gut says it is in the top two movies to date.

Put this film with Wonder Woman’s solo film, and Superman’s solo film, and this should be the direction that the DCEU should have started with. Add a sequel to these films along with a solo Flash film, and Batman film, and then the Justice League should have been made, but I digress…

If you are a fan of the DCEU, I know you will see it. If you are a fan of movies and looking for a good time at the cinema, then spend a few bucks on a ticket and watch the spectacle that is Aquaman now! Orange and green tights have never looked so good!

About Aquaman:

From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas, “Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime—one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be…a king.

The film also stars Amber Heard (“Justice League,” “Magic Mike XXL”) as Mera, a fierce warrior and Aquaman’s ally throughout his journey; Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (“Platoon,” “Spider-Man 2”) as Vulko, council to the Atlantean throne; Patrick Wilson (“The Conjuring” films, “Watchmen”) as Orm/Ocean Master, the present King of Atlantis; Dolph Lundgren (“The Expendables” films) as Nereus, King of the Atlantean tribe Xebel; Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Netflix’s “The Get Down”) as the vengeful Black Manta; and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (“The Hours,” “Lion”) as Arthur’s mom, Atlanna; as well as Ludi Lin (“Power Rangers”) as Captain Murk, Atlantean Commando; and Temuera Morrison (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” “Green Lantern”) as Arthur’s dad, Tom Curry.

Wan directs from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (“The Conjuring 2”) and Will Beall (“Gangster Squad,” TV’s “Training Day”), story by Geoff Johns & James Wan and Will Beall, based on characters from DC, Aquaman created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger. The film is produced by Peter Safran and Rob Cowan, with Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns and Walter Hamada serving as executive producers.

Wan’s team behind the scenes includes such frequent collaborators as Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (“The Conjuring 2,” “Forrest Gump”), his five-time editor Kirk Morri (“The Conjuring” films, “Furious 7,” the “Insidious” films), and production designer Bill Brzeski (“Furious 7”). They are joined by costume designer Kym Barrett (“The Matrix” trilogy, “The Amazing Spider-Man”) and composer Rupert Gregson-Williams (“Wonder Woman”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents a Safran Company Production, a James Wan Film, “Aquaman.” The film is set to hit theaters beginning December 21, 2018, in 3D and 2D and IMAX, and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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