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AQUAMAN (2018)
Aquaman poster

CAST
JASON MAMOA
YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II
MICHAEL BEACH
WILLEM DAFOE
AMBER HEARD
NICOLE KIDMAN
LUDI LIN
DOLPH LUNDGREN
GRAHAM McTAVISH
TEMUERA MORRISON
RANDALL PARK
PATRICK WILSON

AQUAMAN CHARACTER CREATED BY
PAUL NORRIS
MORT WEISINGER

STORY BY
WILL BEALL
GEOFF JOHNS
JAMES WAN

SCREENPLAY BY
WILL BEALL
DAVID LESLIE JOHNSON-McGOLDRICK

PRODUCED BY
ROB COWAN
PETER SAFRAN

DIRECTED BY
JAMES WAN

GENRE
ACTION
ADVENTURE
FANTASY

RATED
AUS:M
UK:12A
USA:PG-13

RUNNING TIME
143 MIN

 

 

Aquaman image

Visually spectacular and wholly engrossing, Aquaman not only sets the DC Films universe back on course, but it also introduces a new bona fide movie star in Jason Mamoa.

Post Justice League, many questions were asked of DC Films regarding their inability to set the world on fire with their releases. With Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck seemingly not returning to their roles of Superman and Batman (respectively), and the sequel to Wonder-Woman pushed forward a year, it is clear that DC are looking into a soft relaunch, a push in the right direction to right their superhero ship. And it is Aquaman who is just the hero to get that job done.

Directed by James Wan (The Conjuring) and scripted by Will Beall (Gangster Squad) and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (Orphan), Aquaman is an origin story, but one told well. It begins with an unlikely romance between lighthouse keeper Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) and Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), the recently crowned Queen of Atlantis who has escaped her arranged marriage. From their love came a son Arthur (Jason Mamoa), who would grow to protect mankind as the mighty Aquaman. Yet destiny comes calling when his half-brother and King of Atlantis, Orm (Patrick Wilson) declares war on the “surface dwellers”, setting up a conflict that will alter Arthur’s world forever.

A lot of this includes journeys through various worlds in the deep ocean, which Wan and his crew have brought to life through an excellent use of visual effects and art direction. Where once upon a time the adage was “never work with water”, Wan proves how an underwater world can be brought to life with stunning vibrancy. Not since the ground-breaking work on Avatar has such world building stunned and awed the way it does here. Equally great is the costume design, Kym Barrett doing a tremendous job in bringing sharp, dynamic colour to the notoriously dour DC Universe.

Performances from most of the cast hit the mark. Jason Mamoa has without a doubt delivered a movie star making turn. Charismatic, electrifying, and incredibly striking, Mamoa takes whatever clumsy dialogue Aquaman has (and rest assured it has plenty), and delivers with conviction, humour, and an everyman quality that makes his Aquaman the kind of guy you want to have a beer with after he saves you from harm’s way.  Amber Heard delivers her most personable performance yet as Mera, an Atlantian warrior and love interest to Aquaman; Patrick Wilson is suitably sinister as the villainous Orm; and Willem Dafoe and Dolph Lundgren bring the gravitas in their roles as influential elder statesmen of Atlantis. The only low point is Nicole Kidman as Atlanna, a role that simply does not have enough weight for Kidman to truly make an impression.

Six films in and with results mixed at best, it is clear that DC Films needed a change in tide. Only fitting that Aquaman provide just that. Fun, energetic, visually gobsmacking, and with palpable stakes to boot, Aquaman proves to be the hero that DC so desperately needs. Now to wield that same magic on their other properties.

 

***1/2

 

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