I’ll start this review off by admitting that I don’t watch a whole lot of comic book films. I’ve seen a good many, but I’m not one of those super fans that see all the sequels. I think the reason I don’t is because there’s just so many and I feel bombarded by the constant stream of them. But when I saw the trailers for Aquaman, I was intrigued. For one thing, the effects looked incredible and second, it wasn’t another one of the many sequels. It was something new and fresh. Sometimes, when something new is tried, it just doesn’t work, but I’m so happy to report that it absolutely does here.
I think this film has the most spectacular special effects I’ve ever seen, I was just sitting there in the theater completely amazed by what I was seeing. The underwater scenes with Atlantis look incredible, and gives vibrant a new meaning. Then we have the fight sequences which are some of the most exciting I’ve ever seen, just filled to the brim with adrenaline. And then there are the creatures which are larger than life and very creative. It’s hard to describe just how amazing the visuals are, but suffice to say I don’t think there’s a question what should win visual effects at the Oscars.
The cast and the way in which they portray their characters is another thing that really works. Jason Mamoa isn’t typically considered a “good actor” per say, but I think he was a really good fit for this role. Mamoa just embodies the character completely, from the look to the behavior. We also have Amber Heard playing Mera, and while I haven’t been a fan of her previous work, she really surprised me here. I was nervous she wasn’t going to be able to pull it off, but she plays this role in a very likable way that’s pretty charming. Nicole Kidman was a great pick to play Queen Atlanna, and I thought she did a great job in the role (P.S. don’t mess with Nicole when she has a trident). Patrick Wilson chews a whole lot of scenery as King Orm, which sometimes works, but to be honest there are a couple moments where all the victorious yelling became a bit much. Willem Dafoe plays a supporting character, Vulko, and pulls it off well. Yahya Abdul Manteen II was alright as Manta, to be honest I think he struggled with some of the same as Wilson in that he goes over the top too much. He wasn’t awful and did have good moments, I just grew tired of the really over the top yelling and carrying on.
I was a little concerned at first, because the plot didn’t exactly play out in the order I assumed. I expected it to be like I’d seen before, with the big fight between the protagonist and the antagonist coming at the end. And don’t get me wrong, there is one, but there’s also a fairly big one before and that made me wonder: “well if this ends it what else do we have?” I really loved how they handled it though because after the first fight, the film is then thrown into adventure mode, a quest of sorts. And believe me this quest is very action packed and filled with interesting, amazing visuals. The Trench is one aspect I particularly love, very cool and well realized. And along with an exciting adventure, we also get to see the really good chemistry between Mamoa and Heard and between Kidman and Temuera Morrison.
All in all, this is one of the best superhero films I’ve seen, not the best ever, but it’s for sure up there. This film puts capable actors, a thrilling plot, and spectacular visuals together to create exactly what this type of film goes for. I usually ask myself when I get out of the theater: “did that film achieve what it set out to?” And with Aquaman, the answer is a hard yes. Oh and boy I wish I could see your face while you watch the third act, because just wow…..