‘Aquaman’ Movie Review: Jason Momoa introduces a brand new wave of superheroes into the DCEU

Marking Warner Bros. and DC’s return in the comic book movie arena is the arrival of Aquaman starring Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry who was introduced briefly in Zack Snyder’s “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” and officially met in “Justice League.” Directed by James Wan from the “Conjuring” franchise and “Furious 7”, the movie takes place after the events of Steppenwolf’s failed attempt to take over the world and will serve as the origin story to the hybrid hero.
‘Aquaman’ Movie Review: Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry in ‘Aquaman’/Warner Bros.

*Minor Spoilers Ahead*

“Aquaman” tackles Arthur’s own personal journey to claim his place as the rightful heir to the Atlantean throne as Queen Atlanna’s (Nicole Kidman) first born. However, his half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson) stands in his way. Fortunately, he has a couple of allies in Mera (Amber Heard) and Vulko (Willem Dafoe).

Nicole Kidman as Atlanna in ‘Aquaman’/Warner Bros.

A major shift for the DCEU

Coming from the financial flop that was Justice League, the DCEU took more than a year hiatus to regroup and reconsider their franchise plans moving forward. And although what “Aquaman” eventually become was always what Wan envisioned it to be, it’s important to note that this film is very different from previous installment in the cinematic universe.

Gone are the brooding heroes and dreary visuals, and in their place are a lead character with a sense of fun and a feast for the eyes - especially when one focuses on how much focus Wan and his team put into details that pivotal in world building. Momoa’s charm and cool vibe easily makes him the darling of the franchise.

That said, “Aquaman’s” star-studded supporting cast not only elevates Momoa’s performance, it builds on the established lore of the DCEU. The introduction of Mera follows the footsteps of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman - strong female character that can hold her own ground. Her dynamic with Arthur is fun to watch and with a budding romance with Arthur, fans should be excited about a full-fledged love story moving forward.

Speaking of love story, the heart of “Aquaman” lies in the relationship between Arthur’s parents - Atlanna and lighthouse keeper, Thomas (Temuera Morrison). In just a couple of scenes, the movie sells their undying love for each other which fuels the lead hero’s motivation throughout the film. In its core, “Aquaman” is a family film - everybody can definitely find something to enjoy in it.

Bogged down by structural and pacing issues

Despite everything that’s great in “Aquaman,” the film has glaring problems. The film runs for two hours and 20 minutes and that feels way too long especially with regard to what they want to accomplish. Following a great first act, things get lost in the shuffle in the middle of the film with various twist and turns that look and sound entirely different from what came before it. Tonal shifts are so sharp it becomes jarring at times. A

At the end of the day, “Aquaman’s” problems are rooted from the same one “Justice League” and “Dawn of Justice” had - it’s crammed full that sometimes, it loses sight of what it’s supposed to be. In return, this hinders people’s (mostly casual fans who are not invested in the franchise) ability to feel for Arthur and ultimately root hard for him. The movie would’ve been better if the script was tighter and the story concise and focused.

Amber Heard as Mera and Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry in ‘Aquaman’/Warner Bros.

Call it a decent comeback

All in all, “Aquaman” brings the DCEU a step closer to the ideal franchise Warner Bros. wants it to be. In the pantheon of films in the series, it’s easily one of the most enjoyable thus far. It’s also a great entryway for casual moviegoers who just want a good time in theaters and not feel lost about backstory and what the movie means in the bigger picture. Yes, it has major issues, but Wan’s bold narrative and visual choices are commendable and the cast is great. For what it’s worth, the spectacle alone is worth seeing the movie.

RATING: 7 out of 10

— ALD, The Summit Express

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