Aquaman Movie Review

Updated: Jan 20, 2019


Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

Aquaman, the sixth entry in the polarizing DCEU from Warner Bros, seems to face an impossible challenge. Coming off after the disastrous critical and financial reception to that of 2017’s Justice League, many industry professionals were curious to see how James Wan, a highly coveted filmmaker thanks to his work with The Conjuring, would take such a cheesy and laughable character such as Aquaman and bring him to a new, modern audience in an acceptable manner. And in a bold and unapologetic manner, Aquaman does that by fully embracing its ludicrous roots with breathtaking visuals that place it as one of the most technically impressive film of the entire year. From the way the hues of blue pop in a scene to a vibrant creature model, the atmosphere surrounding Aquaman’s narrative is at times jaw-dropping, with Wan’s talent as a director being so prominent. However, due to at times embarrassingly poor dialogue and a discordant tone and structure, the sheer spectacle of the film can’t quite save it, as Aquaman quickly devolves into a predictable, if beautiful fest. But even so, the structural issues that the film faces aren’t quite enough to topple the gorgeous tower that Wan and company has produced. Featuring breathtaking visuals, helmed by director James Wan, Aquaman is an over-the-top and brash ride that doesn’t seem to quite know what it wants to be, resulting in some awful dialogue and blemished pacing.




Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people -- and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm's half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.


Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

Easily the weakest chain in this production is the screenplay, written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall. It’s clear from the very beginning that the film is attempting to a wide multitude of experiences. From a touching romance to a thrilling Indiana Jones-esque ride, every act feels totally disjointed from the other. It’s an issue that frothes throughout, resulting in Aquaman being both over-stuffed and extenuated, blemishing its pacing. By the film’s overblown third act, Aquaman exhausts its audience as it frantically transitions between mind-shattering sequences without any real thought or pause. It’s as if Wan and company attempted to squeeze in as many interpretations of this character as possible, diminishing the focus of the screenplay. Overall, the choices play out in somewhat disappointing fashion as the entire film feels more like a series of parts rather than a cohesive narrative.


Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

However, the biggest offense that the writers make is its dialogue. Even when it’s attempting to be overly brash and humorous, the jokes fall flat on their face with most of them being recycled clichés from the genre. In fact, different styles of jokes are often repeated multiple times in the film itself, making the predictability factor of the jokes mediocre at best.


Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

While Aquaman does come off as campy and unapologetic, when it does ground itself in a serious tone, it fails in that regard as well. With stiff and clunky dialogue, Aquaman shatters the precious immersion. And despite having a star-studded cast, spearheaded by a charismatic Jason Momoa, these shamelessly poor lines of dialogue are found to be even worse as it relentlessly integrates maliciously defective moments of longevity into this swirl of commotions.

Aquaman doesn’t have the star-studded, A-list cast to support its increasingly weaker narrative and dialogue, but it has all the charisma and charm it needs to overcome it. Highlighted by Jason Momoa, he’s fantastic in the role, blowing past his one-liners with little in the way of obstacles. The relationship Arthur Curry shares with his parents feels tangible from the very beginning, allowing the audience to be tethered onto something, even if the rest of the film threatens to fall apart. However, on the other side of the spectrum, is Amber Heard as Mera. She certainly looks the part with dazzling costume and VFX execution, but her line delivery is so strangely off-key. Each one-liner from her mouth can be seen from a mile away, and her shockingly obvious wig doesn’t help her.


Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures

But while on paper Aquaman threatens to fall apart at any moment, it’s glued together by an outstanding direction from James Wan. For a Malaysian director, keen on directing quality horror productions, many, including me, were curious to see how he would handle a big-budget, large-scoped project such as Aquaman. And thankfully, he delivers it handily, using bold and distinct flavors of shots to do so. From daunting one shots to wide-scaled, breathtaking imagery, there’s nothing else that looks like Aquaman on the market, not even relatively close.


Image Courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures


As a whole, Aquaman is a bold and campy take on an already corny character. Due to a shallow script with laughable dialogue for moments of longevity, the film threatens to fall apart at any moment. But it still sticks together thanks to a stunning and bold flavored direction from Conjuring filmmaker James Wan.



Score: 7.8 out of 10



Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people -- and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm's half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.


AQUAMAN hits theaters on December 21st, 2018.

Supporting Film, Literature, and Gaming Since June 1st, 2018.

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