- Katherine McLaughlin
- 11 December 2018
James Wan's contribution to the DC universe is a love letter to old school fantasy and adventure
Director James Wan, most famous for his contribution to modern horror with The Conjuring, Insidious and Saw, diverts into goofy adventure with this DC Comics adaptation. His origin story steers away from the dark and tedious prior output of the DC Extended Universe, the excellent Wonder Woman aside, in favour of fun and giddily showing off underwater spectacle and thrillingly designed sea creatures. The character engagement is minimal and Wan doesn't make enough use of the charismatic Jason Momoa in the titular role, however there's a certain allure to the weird and wild places the film is willing to go on its bloated voyage.
As a love letter to old school fantasy and adventure films it's entertaining enough and its environmental message is endearing. In the same way Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home looked to the sea for salvation so too does this film, but instead of a humpback whale it rests on the shoulders of Aquaman to stop a covert and corrupt operation to destroy the land so the ocean can reign supreme. He teams up with sea princess Mera (Amber Heard) in a Romancing the Stone meets Spielberg style quest, with the two bickering their way through deserts, Italian coastlines, ruins and stormy seas to make sure his destiny is met. It's all very silly and the film acknowledges that, as its hero saves people from beneath fallen rubble who simply get up and walk away without injury.
Aquaman is the kind of superhero movie that makes you nostalgic for Richard Donner's Superman films in its ambition, and it may even have you dusting off your copy of Crocodile Dundee as you watch the silly interplay between Aquaman and his father, played by Temuera Morrison. Momoa's scenes with Morrison and his relationship with Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna are so sweetly imagined you'll wish the film spent more time getting to know the characters. Still, the underwater shenanigans featuring Patrick Wilson hamming it up as the Ocean Master and Willem Dafoe scheming are a real treat.
General release from Wed 12 Dec.