“Aquaman” Review: Bombastic But Not Fantastic

Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Amber Heard as Princess Mera in "Aquaman." Photo by Warner Bros/DC/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (10043882ar)

Jason Mamoa as DC’s Aquaman is charming, sexy and extremely cool. Unfortunately, James Wan’s Aquaman origin story was cheesy, predictable and a little bit naff.

One of the main troubles with the feature was that it tried to do too many things at once. The 2h 22m film tried to deliver Aquaman’s origin story, introduce future enemy Back Manta while also telling the story of how Arthur defeated his tyrant brother to become King of Atlanta. By focusing on too much, scenes which should have been exciting became boring and the way each story wrapped up was vastly unfulfilling.

Visually, Aquaman was great and perhaps even superb at times. A lot of detail and imagination clearly went into bringing the lost city of Atlanta to life. The epic fight scene between Arthur and his brother in the “Ring of Fire” auditorium was particularly noteworthy and was one of the highlights of the film in terms of entertainment value.

On the other hand, some action shots were so cheesy they were laughable. The scene where Aquaman and Mera enter the Sahara Dessert with Pitbull’s disastrous remix of “Africa” by Toto playing in the background caused several audience members to snigger. Yes, Aquaman is the comic relief superhero in the Justice League, but James Wan instructed one dramatic hair flip too many. It was just too cringey to take seriously.

Still, we didn’t hate it. At the end of the day, James Wan told us a story in an imaginative, colorful way and even though the story fell short of a masterpiece, it wasn’t a total disappointment. A lot of this probably has to do with the fact that Jason Mamoa is so likeable and has single-handedly ensured that Aquaman will never be the butt of a superhero joke again.

Obviously, this review would not be complete without reference to the heartbreaking love story between Aquaman’s parents. The story of the lighthouse keeper and the Queen of Atlanta is exceptionally heartwarming and after 20 years of waiting, the moment the couple is reunited might have possibly triggered a tiny tear or two. It was the most, if not the only moment of the movie which was genuinely powerful, albeit charmingly predictable.

2.5/5: A cheesy adventure tale which in an age where superhero movies are thriving, just wasn’t quite good enough. Sorry Aquaman.