DC takes another step in the right direction with 'Aquaman' but they still need to iron out some wrinkles.
'Aquaman' kicks off after the events of 'Justice League' and gives the backstory behind Arthur Curry’s (Jason Momoa) relationship with the people of Atlantis as the rightful heir to the throne. When it comes to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), it’s been one rough ride.
First, the 'Batman V Superman' movie became a running joke, then they rushed 'Suicide Squad' and locked the director out of the editing bay, letting a trailer company finish editing the movie. Resulting in one of the worst movies of 2016.
We were offered a glimmer of hope with 'Wonder Woman' which was the first DCEU success story. However, the glee was short lived as 'Justice League' was panned by critics and got a lukewarm response from audiences. Since then DC has halted a lot of their previously announced movies and made major changes in running their universe.
Enter Aquaman, the first film in the DCEU that gets the tone issue correct. Director James Wan did a brilliant job of keeping the stakes high and serious when they needed to be and balancing it with light-hearted moments. The action, as well as the underwater scenes, are phenomenal. Wan has an eye for capturing thrilling action sequences.
The costuming is on point and the visuals of the film are amazing. Atlantis, in particular, feels like an underwater Pandora and is a feast for the eyes. Where the wheels start falling off is continuity, scriptwriting and use of characters.
Curry is the only character that is well written and Momoa does a great job of giving life to the King of Atlantis. Everyone one else, however, only exists to move the plot along.
The biggest offender is Mera, played by Amber Heard. Mera is likeable but acts merely as a plot device. Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) could’ve been left out of this film since he adds nothing and is just a distraction from the main storyline.
His motivation as to why he hates Curry is also very thin and comes across as being evil for the sake of being evil. Furthermore, Mera and Curry talk about characters that only get introduced later in the film, which could have been easily avoided with better-placed flashbacks.
The best thing about the film is that it is a stand-alone film that isn’t setting up a future film, probably because they’re still figuring out a way forward for the DCEU, and it gives the audience the opportunity to get to know Curry/Aquaman before he becomes the King of Atlantis.
I hope DC is taking the notes on why 'Wonder Woman' and 'Aquaman' work and finally plans out the entire universe and stops reacting to the gigantic success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Going forward they need to start carving out a cinematic universe that DC fans can be proud of.