Rating: This is the strongest kind of B+ there is… but if we are talking its rating strictly as a B movie, this gets an A.
Summary: Arthur Curry must stop a war between the land and sea by embracing his lineage.
No no no, I really mean that. This is probably the best pure popcorn movie of the year- it’s highly entertaining, the action is great, there are some genuine laughs, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, it’s very tongue in cheek, and it’s highly self-aware of the content it is presenting, particularly when it comes to you know, superpowers and the like. There were genuine rounds of applause throughout the movie. This is what a lot of comic book movies try to be and should be but fail. This is like… what the first Thor would have been had they gone Ragnorak vibe for all three movies.
Let’s just put it this way- when director James Wan was asked how characters would talk underwater, considering that we make sound by an exhale of air, he simply stated that people were overthinking it. Basically, sit back and enjoy the ride of big dumb fun. And that’s exactly how Aquaman should be watched. Yeah, a guy who talks to fish- it’s a premise that can’t be taken seriously on paper, so let’s just not even try. Every now and then, I think we get room or cravings for a Black Panther or a Civil War, but sometimes, I’d rather see all the different ways gravity or physics can be defied. One theme is fine, and one theme of the reluctant natural hero is what we get here.
Now don’t get me wrong- the fun succeeds in outweighing any logic and there’s no crafting when it comes to dialogue, and Aquaman is a weird movie. It’s a heist movie, then it’s an archeological expedition, later a rom-com, a horror at some point- but for the most part, it’s able to maintain its confidence and tone, mostly due to the charisma of its star Jason Momoa as Arthur. It’s very much like Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider where they laid out everything that people really liked about the face of the series, stuck it into the establishing scene so that you are satisfied and accepting of whatever comes next, and then carried on with the rest of the movie.
Not to mention, the movie is aware of where its strengths are and milks it for every last cent. Jason Momoa’s muscles? Lots of those. Twinkly eyes? Yup. Laid back surfer dude? Check. Immature sense of humor? Check. Being large. CHECK. But there’s nothing that’s out of line or stunningly distracting from the character of Aquaman. Momoa might be playing a shade of himself, but it matches the tone so well that it really doesn’t matter.
Aside from that, I have to say- Patrick Wilson is surprisingly good and one of the better and more complete comic book villains we’ve seen. The CG is really good and there’s a lot of fun that Wan has with the water settings and creatures. There is some real originality and thoughtfulness in how the action is shot. While the dialogue leaves a little to be desired (explanations during action scenes), it’s usually followed up by something that is really impressive and engaging to watch. Visually, my only complaint is that they go to four different underwater kingdoms and they kind of all look the same despite one being led by a FISH and another by a CRAB.
I mean, they don’t have thumbs. Something HAS to be different. Regardless, I’d put Aquaman as one of the better and more memorable comic-based movies we’ve had and DEFINITELY better than Ant-man and the Wasp.