It feels like the DC Extended Universe is falling apart at the seams over the last year or so. Justice League bombed at the box office, Ben Affleck is out as Batman, Henry Cavill out as Superman, Wonder Woman 1984‘s release pushed back to 2020, Ezra Miller still has a job as Barry Allen, and God knows what’s happening to The Joker right now. Things don’t look particularly great for the DC film franchise, but there is hope. People still like Jason Momoa and Warner Bros haven’t screwed that up yet. Momoa stars in the latest DCEU film, Aquaman, a movie for years, many thought would never make it to the big screen. Even more laughable is the fictional Aquaman movie that once starred Adrian Grenier. Well, Aquaman is now a reality and he faces his toughest mission to date…saving the DCEU.
Aquaman begins as a story of a lighthouse keeper Tom Curry, who finds Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), the princess of the underwater nation of Atlantis. The two fall in love and have a son, Arthur Curry (Momoa), a boy who soon will be known as Aquaman. Years later, after the events of Justice League, Aquaman thwarts the hijacking of a submarine led by a powerful pirate known as Black Manta. After the rescue kills Manta’s father, Manta becomes obsessed with the vengeance of his death. But that’s not the only threat that our hero faces. He also must stop a power-hungry heir to the throne of Atlantis from waging war against the surface world, causing the deaths of millions. Arthur, the reluctant King must step up to the plate or watch all around him perish.
This might not be saying a lot, but Aquaman is hands down the best DCEU film to date. The film goes all in on a near 200 million budget and the payoff is impressive. Somehow I feel that James Wan doesn’t get enough credit for his visual storytelling, even in films where the actual plot is lacking. Jason Momoa is indeed the Aquaman we have waited years for as he delivers humorous quips along with turning a comic book character people love to poke fun at into the big screen badass that would make Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger proud.
The film isn’t quite perfect, however. There are tonal issues where parts of the movie feel out-of-place. As great as the first hour of Aquaman is, the quality takes a sharp dip in the 2nd act when the film tries to focus more on Aquaman and Mera’s relationship. The lightheartedness of the 2nd act clashes with the stakes at hand, a common complaint with Marvel Cinematic Universe. The runtime feels like it could have been shortened at least 20 minutes as the film suffers from ‘one villain too many’ in the grand scheme. The last act, however, makes up the difference with a big popcorn popping battle that will ultimately leave moviegoers satisfied with their experience.
It is impossible to say if Aquaman is a step in the right direction for DC because, at this point, I don’t even think Warner Bros knows for certain what the future holds. Aquaman is undoubtedly the blockbuster of the Holiday season and that is better than nothing.