We expect a lot from superhero movies nowadays. Great fight scenes, amazing CGI, meaningful plot and of course charismatic lead are on the top of the list what we want to see. And weirdly enough, it’s all because of Marvel Cinematic Universe which has been reaping success after success and creating history in the cinematography industry.
On the other hand, we have DC Extended Universe which just can’t catch a break after so many fiascos. Basically, before Wonder Woman (2017), DCEU was ridiculed for its persistent failures to deliver a decent movie. Therefore, you can understand why every new project is skeptically perceived and frowned upon. But Aquaman was truly a pleasant surprise although the story was nothing original and one can even call it too predictable regardless of the comic book origins.
We were introduced to the Aquaman for the first time in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) but only very briefly and without any explanation about the character. Then, Justice League (2017) brought all the characters together and we saw Jason Mamoa’s portrayal of the character a bit better although it was too early to get our hopes up. But, now that the movie is out it is pretty clear that Mamoa was born to play the part as well as that may be a new DCEU era is upon us.
Arthur Curry/Aquaman is caught in the middle of Atlantean politics with Orm (Patrick Wilson) set to declare war to humanity. Now, the plot is more complex and less shallow while at the same time dealing with the background story of Aquaman’s upbringing and family drama. By this point, it’s really hard to determine whether the movie is truly working well even with such an unoriginal plot or if we lowered our expectations quite a bit due to the missed opportunities for success of Superman-led titles.
However, the thing that saved this movie from the possible DC curse is the action. Although the cast is really impressive with Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson and Amber Heard and supporting roles from Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren and Temuera Morrison, it’s the direction of James Wan that really made all the difference and Mamoa’s masterful performance.
The over-the-top action and abundance of CGI effects are the heart of this movie and it’s not ashamed to show it whenever it can. While when it comes to soul, it’s a sure thing to say that no other actor could portray Aquaman in the funny, charismatic way as Mamoa did. And although you already know that Aquaman is going to be full of himself and fighting hordes of extraordinary enemies, Jason Mamoa’s performance is not something you were ready to praise so much. But no one else would fit the part so perfectly and help this movie be more than just a predictable mess of storytelling with expensive action sequences and big acting names.
So, in a way, the story and quality of performances throughout the movie are left in the shadow of the impressive yet overdone CGI. While you will still have a lot of fun watching this over two hours long movie, it is apparent that DCEU is still not there yet when it comes to fitting story, performances, and atmosphere to complement each other. But they are trying, so there is hope that next DC superhero movies will finally be close to what Marvel is doing or simply well-developed features.