If you’re looking for a superhero epic that’s pure rock ‘n’ roll fun and that will get you seriously amped then you’d better dive headfirst into Aquaman.
Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is a man born of two worlds but when his true home of Atlantis comes knocking he must accept his true self and venture deep below the ocean to combat the rising threat of an impending battle between the deep and the surface worlds, and claim his rightful position as King of the Seven Seas.
As the newest instalment into the DC Extended Universe, Aquaman is a film that charts the rise of a brand new hero and throws audiences into a completely original mythological epic. Ever since he was announced as portraying Aquaman we’ve been pumped for Jason Momoa’s appearance as Arthur Curry/Aquaman and while he helped fight the evil of Steppenwolf and saved the world in Justice League now this son of the land and prince of the sea must undertake a journey to prove he is worthy to wear the title of King and unite two different worlds.
Right from the beginning Momoa’s Aquaman was going to be something unique and here he continues to explore his heavy metal take on the character. As a hulking beast of a man, Momoa is an incredibly intimidating specimen and he definitely has the presence of an otherworldly god. But while we’re known for seeing heroes who are either exceedingly noble or savagely dark, Momoa’s Aquaman is all his own and is a man possessed of his own code of conduct and desire to protect the innocent, all while living it up at the same time. While he’s got the strength and superhuman abilities to save the world what he lacks is the responsibility and here in Aquaman, he must undertake a journey to discover it. Packed out with adventure at every turn, Aquaman is a tremendously fun ride and it’s all thanks to Momoa’s immense passion and enthusiasm for the story he’s bringing to the screen. More than any other superhero before we really see Momoa’s own personality shine through the character and he’s definitely proved himself worthy of the Kingdom of Atlantis.
Every king needs his queen and Momoa finds his in Amber Heard’s Mera. This ravishing underwater princess is a true warrior through and through and is our guide into the underwater Kingdom of Atlantis and its wonders that lay beneath the deep. Heard provides a deep sense of motivation for Momoa’s Arthur as she understands what he could be for both Earth and Atlantis and it’s her continual push and encouragement that leads him to accept his destiny. But make no mistake Mera is no damsel and this strong-willed warrior princess has command over the entire ocean and when the action does kick-off with the armies of Atlantis she proves her martial abilities with tremendous prowess. The two actors also share a great chemistry together that reminded me a lot of the classic oddball romantic hero characters such as Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and we see the same playfulness develop between Heard and Momoa here. Heard is an absolute aquatic goddess in Aquaman and her belief in our hero gives him the strength he needs to win out and save both the surface and the deep.
Every hero needs a truly great villain to test them and Momoa’s Aquaman finds his nemesis in the form of his half-brother King Orm who is played by a malicious Patrick Wilson. Wilson’s Orm reminds me of some kind of radical dictator and in his own mind, he has good reason for wanting to wage war on the Earth’s surface dwellers for their desecration of the ocean floor. Wilson has a great presence as the character and his quest for the coveted title of Ocean Master makes him a very dangerous and unpredictable adversary for Arthur. The actor also put in some serious time at the gym to match up to Momoa’s intimidating size and his ferocious appetite for war makes him a lethal antagonist that will truly test Aquaman’s steel.
Introduced in the film is also a bloodthirsty pirate and high seas’ mercenary David Kane / Black Manta who is played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and he gives one hell of a committed performance here. Abdul-Mateen II matches Wilson’s villainous ruthlessness up on the screen and he provides the seeds for the start of another great villain in the DCEU. Like Momoa, Abdul-Mateen II is also a hulking beast of a man and his performance here marks him out as a very dangerous enemy for the King of Atlantis and we’re excited to see more of this savage villain in the future.
Finally, Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison provide a great backstory to Aquaman as the parents to the young Arthur Curry in the form of Queen Atlanna, the exiled queen of Atlantis and Thomas Curry, a noble lighthouse keeper. Kidman and Morrison are of great importance to the film and provide Momoa’s Arthur with the moral compass that he will need to guide him between two worlds and to always do the right thing. Like Arthur and Mera you completely buy into the relationship and love shared between Kidman and Morrison thanks to their great chemistry together. Plus in a throwback to his performance in Once Were Warriors, Morrison delivers the best line of the whole film and it will absolutely have you in stitches.
With Aquaman, we’re dealing with an all-new superhero mythology and director James Wan gets the chance to create something utterly extraordinary here. As a truly visionary director, Wan takes his audience to the bottom of the ocean and showcases a breathtakingly beautiful undersea paradise filled with colour, light and extraordinary visuals. Everything has been custom made here and the attention to detail on imagining the underwater kingdom of Atlantis is a beautiful sight for your eyes. Everything we think about Atlantis and Aquaman has been re-interpreted on a grander scale for us, and Wan’s vision of an immense, culturally advanced civilisation that has learned to live in balance with the creatures of the ocean is a marvel to behold up on screen. You simply get lost in the images that are presented to you and from what you witness you’ll be wishing you could breathe underwater.
Wan has really thought through every single part of this underwater universe and he really works to distinguish each of the seven kingdoms. From the technology advanced city of Atlantis, to the regal culture of Xebel to the beauty of the Kingdom of the Fisherman to the savage nightmares that await in The Trench, Wan constructs a complete 360 degree underwater universe and all of it builds up a thoroughly engaging mythology that contains the raw strands of the Monomythic Heroes Journey of Joseph Campbell and is a great setting for the rise of a hero to gain his crown.
Such an epic tale like Aquaman also demands an extraordinary sense of action and Wan delivers on this big time. The scope is immense and the underwater sea battles that wage within the deep are terrifically exciting to watch. Wan’s imagination topples that of Jules Verne with an enormous spectacle that he unleashes here which showcases the likes of ferocious Sea-Horse Dragons, ocean powered laser cannons, massive warships and tooth and nail trident battles between two men who each desire to be King. I found myself really wrapped up in the underwater trident battles between Arthur and Orm and liken it to the thrill of underwater MMA as they go at each other in the Colosseum of Atlantis and this heavy-hitting combat will seriously elevate your heart rate.
Everyone involved in Aquaman gives 200% on this incredible cinematic feat and this effort absolutely shows up on screen. The endeavour to realize this grand story and build a breathtaking underwater universe is a mission in pure passion and is what lies at the very heart of the art of cinema. Aquaman’s journey to the throne is one that tests him to his core and thanks to an amazing group of artists working in unison together we get to see it in all of its glory.
Adventures don’t get much grander than Aquaman and this film delivers on its spectacle with extraordinary size and blockbuster energy. The King has returned and long may he reign!
Image: Roadshow Films