Thanks to Roadshow Films we got to see James Wan’s, Aquaman, ahead of its Australian premiere on Boxing Day. This is our review but remember there is no better critic than yourself!
The DC Universe is a complicated and unbalanced one. While it struggles to catch up to Marvel, much to its disservice, through the likes of Batman vs Superman and Justice League its has been singularly less interested in taking the requisite time to establish that Universe sufficiently for fans to be able, or want, to immerse themselves in the stories of its heroes.
However, what DC has been good at (dare we even say great) of late, is the development of origin stories that are far superior to its group efforts. Take, if you will, the likes of Man of Steel, Wonder Woman and, with a pinch of salt, Batman Begins (ok so a dumper truck of salt given this film pre-dates all the others and is divorced from the current Batman story) – then DC has a very good pedigree in creating engaging, insightful and poignant origin films, which allow the audience to develop the necessary attachment to central characters, and the group as a whole.
That’s why it is so frustrating when an origin film comes after characters have been haphazardly introduced into the Universe without any context on the assumption that the characters are well known enough to audiences.
Anyhow we digress and this is a review of Aquaman which by the way is awesome, and not a therapy session where we continue to ask ‘why DC…WHY?!’
Aquaman centres around Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) – a child of two worlds. Nicole Kidman stars as his mother is Atlanna – the Queen of Atlantis – while a CGI enhanced (and ruggedly handsome might we say) Temuera Morrison plays his lighthouse keeping human father.
The movie starts with some romantic connotations, as two lovers from different worlds are thrust together when Kidman washes up on the rocks of Morrison’s lighthouse. Injured and unresponsive, he takes her into to his home and nurses her to health. But no love story is smooth sailing (ask Romeo and Juliet) and upon waking she attacks Morrison showing off her warrior skills and strength, before releasing him and devouring his gold fish. To be honest, she seems a bit mad (even for the crazy hot scale from HIMYM), but there is a lovely tenderness to these scenes.
Eventually the two fall in love as Morrison teaches her his human ways and she reveals that she’s a Queen escaping the clutches of an arranged marriage. The two have a child, Arthur, born to one day be king in a not so subtle nod to ‘The Legend of King Arthur’ (only with trident instead of a sword). When the family is attacked and their home destroyed, Atlanna realizes that they will safe from her brethren and returns to Atlantis to an uncertain fate, vowing to one day return.
The film, content with showing the development of Aquaman through flash backs later and understanding the desire of the audience to see Aquaman BE Aquaman, jumps to an attack on a submarine many years after we last saw our hero.
It’s also the first chance we get to see Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (we’ll just call him YAM for short) – a merciless pirate who later goes on to become Black Manta. YAM attacks the sub with his father in tow, killing all of the crew before a radar ping raises the alert of what is to come.
This is our first opportunity to see the hulking Momoa as Aquaman as he pushes the submarine to the surface and boards to save the crew. The lead is a new direction for DC who has previously depicted Aquaman as a blonde (almost Captain America esque) boy scout. Momoa is a far cry from this depiction, with long tousled brown locks tinged with blonde and dark skin cast a far better imagining of the character and a less Marvel one.
Form here the main story revolves around a plan to return Momoa to Atlantis to take up his rightful place as king, by overthrowing his despotic younger brother (played by Patrick Wilson), who is hell bent on overthrowing the human world for the damage they have done to the underwater realm. The two battle in a brilliantly created virtual world, with Momoa having to embrace his human and Atlantian heritage to challenge for the throne.
Throughout the film, Momoa shines as the guardian of the deep. Stuck between two worlds, he has the powers of his royal birthright but the humble nature of his father that leaves him conflicted about his ability to rule the sea. It’s not an original formula, but it works well and sets up clearly for a sequel with the Black Manta who, to the upset of many fans, gets little screen time.
Whilst not a perfect effort, Momoa and Director James Wan, manage to pull off something special that continues to perfect the art of the origin story. And while it may be late in the day for DC to start properly introducing its characters, it’s better late than never if Aquaman is the result.
Aquaman – In Cinemas Boxing Day