As the dust settled on this crumbling universe, only two characters seemed to have any staying power: Wonder Woman, who faces a precarious future in her 1980s sequel, and Aquaman, whose standalone origin film presents an opportunity for a fresh start.
Distancing himself from Batman and the Man of Steel, the aquatic demigod’s only remaining connection to the DC universe is through Jason Momoa’s portrayal. While Momoa may not be an Oscar-caliber actor, his physical presence is perfectly suited to the role. Director James Wan wisely keeps him focused on manageable tasks: a few announcements, simple one-liners, and brief dialogue exchanges that serve to transition the plot from point C to point D.
Designed as a family-friendly popcorn flick, Aquaman targets a younger audience of around twelve years old. Accordingly, its storyline is straightforward—a classic origin tale that takes us through a series of stunning locales—and character motivations are kept simple. While this film doesn’t aim for the complex allure of The Dark Knight, its straightforward storytelling is a refreshing departure from convoluted and tedious myth-building, a pitfall of sequels like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Aquaman does suffer from its excessive runtime of 143 minutes. A tighter edit could have eliminated unnecessary characters and scenes without sacrificing quality. However, the film excels in terms of technical prowess, offering a seamless rhythm and state-of-the-art special effects. While it may lack the relentless drive found in something like Fast and Furious 7, it’s a spectacle worth experiencing in theaters, standing as one of Hollywood’s most visually arresting projects.
By my yardstick, which values epic battles, visually striking underwater realms, and polished confrontations with various monsters, Aquaman is a triumph. Its visual palette is a stunning amalgamation of elements from Abyss, Avatar, Tron, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and The Matrix, distilled into a family blockbuster. While the film does cater to a younger demographic with its Power Rangers-esque villains and toy-friendly characters, this might not resonate with everyone. However, Aquaman succeeds in delivering an audacious, epic, and luxuriously crafted cinematic adventure that stands out in scale and ingenuity among its comic book peers. It’s a film I’d willingly revisit, surpassing any other DC offering since The Dark Knight Rises.
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