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‘Aquaman’ is Turning the Tide for the DC Comics Cinematic Universe

The DC Comics character Aquaman has splashed into theaters and it’s the superhero’s first solo film. ‘Aquaman’ is the sixth installment in the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) and it follows Jason Momoa as the title character after the events of 2017’s ‘Justice League’ film. Once the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by a power-hungry king looking to conquer the seven seas and start a war with the surface people of the land. The king’s half-Atlantean brother, Arthur Curry, better known as Aquaman, must find the legendary trident of Atlan to take his rightful place as king and protector of both the deep waters and the surface.

Since Aquaman’s debut in November of 1941, the character has been mocked, teased for being silly, and seen by many as a useless superhero whose only real power is to communicate with fish. On the other hand, director James Wan (‘Insidious’ and ‘The Conjuring’) has delivered a fresh take on the once-mocked character by offering fun action, great looking visuals, and one of the best ensemble cast for the DCEU so far.

‘Aquaman’ embraces the pages of the comic book source material and cartoonish entertainment that makes the action fun for everyone. The action looks like a Saturday morning cartoon come to life. In this shared cinematic movie universe, ‘Aquaman’ is a blast of bold colors that truly standouts out from the other DCEU films. The action is visual eye-candy that comic book fans will definitely recognize and that non-comic book fans will appreciate. The underwater visuals look vibrant and it’s like Wakanda under water. ‘Aquaman’ also has visuals that are reminiscent of ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Flash Gordon’. Characters ride seahorses and sharks into battle and underwater battles introduce filmgoers to the wondrous realms of Atlantis along with a blast of sci-fi and fantasy.

Jason Momoa’s Aquaman first appeared in ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ followed by ‘Justice League’. Those two films introduced audiences to the character and they gave audiences a taste of what Aquaman can do. Here, we get more humanizing moments with the character, such as the bond he has with his father, and Momoa seems to be having so much fun as the character. Momoa offers silly dialogue, jokes, and we do grow with this character on his journey to try and become king. Amber Heard (‘The Danish Girl’ and ‘Pineapple Express’) as Mara offers a good balance to Momoa’s character. Mera plays her role a little more straight and the “love-hate” back and forth relationship between her and Aquaman makes for some fun screen moments.

The film does feel too long and it does have some pacing problems. There is a scene where Aquaman and Mera are wandering through the desert to find the trident and it just drags. This particular scene could have been edited down to be much shorter and it’s the bathroom break of the film. Also, the film offers some cheesy dialogue, such as characters screaming their superhero or supervillain name aloud while in battle. Patrick Wilson, (‘The Conjuring’ and ‘Hard Candy’ ) who plays Aquaman’s half-brother and ruthless king of Atlantis, Orm, a.k.a Ocean Master, delivers generic bad guy dialogue while doing it in a Shakespearean sort of way. Despite the cheesiness and tongue in cheek dialogue, other cast members such as Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, and Dolph Lundgren, all perform to the best of their abilities.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (‘Baywatch’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’) plays another villain known as Black Manta. The character feels a little forced into the story only because he is a long time villain in the ‘Aquaman’ comics. Black Manta seems to only be here to set up the sequel and the potential ‘Legion of Doom’ movie that was teased at the end credits of the ‘Justice League’ movie. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays the character that is right out of the comic book pages and they are most likely saving him for bigger things to come.

Overall, ‘Aquaman’ is one of the better films in the DCEU and ‘Aquaman’ may be turning the tide for the DCEU movies that haven’t been rated so favorably in the past. With films like ‘Wonder Woman’ and know ‘Aquaman’ DC seems to be going in a positive direction for both comic book fans and moviegoers. Some parts drag, feel cheesy, but the film manages to stay afloat rather than sink.

I give it 7/10 Stars

The DCEU continues with ‘Shazam’ with a release date scheduled for April 5, 2019.

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