You probably will not find a movie that just embodies the DC Cinematic Universe as a whole than Aquaman. Why? Because Aquaman, as far as films go, is a tidal wave of a hot mess with a few bits and pieces of amusement in between, just like the DC Cinematic Universe leading up to this point, but the film is a big wet mess!
With the Steppenwolf crisis from Justice League dealt with, we find Arthur Curry cleaning up the oceans in his own way until a familiar face from Atlantis asks for his aid. Mera wants Arthur to claim his birthright to the throne of Atlantis to stop Arthur’s sinister half-brother Orm from waging war on the surface and to do that, Arthur and Mera must embark on a perilous expedition across the world and beyond the seas to find an ancient Atlantean weapon capable of commanding all life under the tides.
To James Wan, who chose to take on something very ambitious in trying to give Aquaman and the world he hails from some street cred, I say this: you had vision and the right means to see your vision shine but this movie was swept up in the currents of very nasty writing. David Leslie Gordon-McGoldrick and Will Beall just polluted this movie with toxic-level weak material and puns and whatever creativity went into this movie, it’s washed away with predictable takes and turns that dilute whatever amusement can come with watching it.
I’ve been rightfully harsh when it came to the decisions director Zack Snyder has made when it came to jump-starting this superhero franchise, but the one thing I will not fault him with was his decision to cast Jason Momoa to give audiences and fans everywhere something different when it came to DC Comics’ legendary defender of the deep. Momoa is fun to watch as Aquaman and with every portrayal of him, you can feel his enthusiasm playing this part.
The rest of the cast is hit or miss from where I sat. Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren are good in this movie but some performers like Ludi Lin, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Michael Beach, Randall Park, felt wasted and washed out in this picture and some performers like Djimon Hounsou, Julie Andrews, Graham McTavish, Sophia Forrest are just fleeting cameos.
I was rather impressed with some of the technical ability that went into the production of this film. Don Burgess’ cinematography was decent but Kirk E. Morri’s film editing was sloppy, especially when it came to the use of flashback for Arthur’s training and upbringing. Rupert Gregson Williams’ music was inconsistent for my liking, Bill Brzeski’s production design was outstanding, the art direction overseen by Richard Hobbs was vivid and breathtaking, the sets designed by Danielle Burman and Beverley Dunn were great, Kym Barrett’s costumes were perfect and the visual effects were incredible to boot. It’s just such a shame that these affects weren’t given more substantial room to breathe.
Does Aquaman save the DC Cinematic Universe? Absolutely not. Is it at least an enjoyable film to watch for the holiday season? That depends on what your definition of “enjoyable” is. It doesn’t make the waves you want but you see pretty and ugly in this film.