- Release Date: 13/12/2018
- Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
- Directed By James Wan
Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is the son of a human and an Atlantean. He was never meant to be and his mother paid the price for falling in love with a human with her life. His half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) rules the Atlantis now and wants to unite all the kingdoms of the ocean and unleash war on the surface world. His to-be-bride Mera (Amber Heard) and advisor Vulko (Willem Dafoe) do not share his enthusiasm for destruction of the surface world and within themselves set out to introduce Arthur to his true self and enable him to take his rightful place on the Throne of Atlantis thereby ending the war that Orm is bringing to the surface world. Arthur himself has pissed off some terrible adversaries who are now vying for his blood. Aquaman is an amalgamation of all this and lot more.
This is a film that is absolutely stunning to look at. James Wan and his team of production designers and visual artists have created a breathtaking underwater world that is worthy to be revisited atleast a couple of times to sink in all that visual splendor and tiny details. The color palate and the interesting mishmash of the hi-tech technology and old world charm add a lot more to the already stunning visuals.
This is a film that is unabashed in its action and it is not afraid to repeat a few things here and there if that means that they can end up with a grand crowd cheering moment. There are sequences here were our protagonist ends up looking straight at the camera. I felt at many junctures that he might just break the 4th wall but he didn’t. The action is imaginative and there is a lot of it. I particularly loved the action sequence in Italy wherein Aquaman and Mera are chased by some deadly adversaries led by the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). The manner in which this sequence is shot sets it apart from the usual stuff. The action sequence between Aquaman and Orm is also pretty well done. The large-scale final battle is huge and it is handled with an eye to details and a lot of imagination.
3D technology is something that can really elevate certain aspects of the visuals of a film provided the film has the kind of visuals were the depth of field is a factor in enjoying the realism of the visuals. Aquaman is just that kind of a film. Here is a visual palate that not only feels more real owing to the depth of the background but also gets more effective and immersive.
Jason Momoa is a charming leading man. He is like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his early days. He has the physicality, sly charm and enough acting prowess to bring the character of Aquaman to life. The problem is — his character is so generic and devoid of any genuine arcs — that even in his most charming, he feels as if he is sleepwalking through the role. Amber Heard, on the contrary, is rather likable. She is terrific to look at and totally kills it in the action sequences. Her comic timing with Momoa is impeccable and the two build up a nice play whenever they are not kicking ass. Nicole Kidman sparkles in a small role that is very important in terms of the story.
Patrick Wilson turns in one of his weakest performances in years. I always loved the man. He is terrific in the Conjuring films and even as the superhero “Night Owl” (Watchmen, 2009), he hit the right notes. Here, he is given some of the corniest lines in the whole film. His expressions are washed away by an overuse of CGI and the worst thing about his character is that he is never a real threat to Aquaman. We all know what is waiting for him and he gets what is coming to him eventually. Never for a second does he rise above the stereotypes of his character. I felt that James Wan could have done a lot more with his character.
Aquaman is a nice film to look at and it has a lot of crowd-pleasing moments and action but at its core, it is a film with no narrative complexity or innovation. It is the same old story of a to-be-king who is lost in the oblivion before he finds his way back to his kingdom, fights an evil brother and reclaims his throne with the help of a trusted few. There are no layers to the narrative neither does it affect you in any way. True! It entertains you but you forget about it the moment you step out of the theater. Also, I found the performances to be ordinary and a lot of the comedy to be forced. There were re-treads in the action sequences as well but simply because of the finesse and imaginative execution of the sequences, the re-treads can be ignored.
I was expecting Aquaman to be a lot more than what it turned out to be. I wanted to be affected by Arthur’s story. I wanted to cheer for him when he pummeled the baddies. I wanted to root for him everytime he risked his life for others. Unfortunately, the characters never make you care for them enough to extract those emotions. The result is a film that is entertaining and enthralling because of its visuals and actions but shallow and soulless when you look at it past the visual mirage.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)