For the last decade or so DC has fallen behind in its foray into superhero films with Marvel taking the forefront. Not to say that DC films are bad, but it just seems like Marvel has taken center stage. As an avid movie watcher and comic book reader, I enjoy both DC and Marvel and I believe that both have produced good and bad films. James Wan’s Aquaman, starring Jason Mamoa and Amber Heard – released on December 21 – I believe that this film falls into the ”good” category.
The film was so much fun to watch. It was not what I was expecting for a superhero film, but I was fine with it. It was full of adventure and cheese. The dialogue was not award-winning but it worked. The film knew how ridiculous it was and went with it.
One of my worries was that the film would be too CGI heavy, which I know sounds like a stupid concern for a film about people who breath water and fight while riding giant seahorses. But I thought that it was perfect. The CGI wasn’t too overbearing and you could always see what was clearly happening on the screen. The film was shot beautifully. The way the camera was focused on certain scenes really amazed me. There was one scene that blew me away. Arthur and Mera dove into the ocean during a storm while being chased by monsters with only a flare in hand to draw their attention. The scene was shot at a zoomed out wide-angle with light only coming from the flare and lightning streaks in the sky, illuminating the hundreds of creatures that were chasing them in faint shadows. It was awesome.
A complaint that I’ve often seen with reviews for DC films is that they are too dark and brooding. But this film had none of that. While the film used a lot of things from the New 52 run of Aquaman, which was pretty dark, Jason Momoa’s version of Arthur Curry was a hilarious take. I was worried that he would be a stupid meathead like character, from what the trailer showed, but he was a funny charming goofball who was endearing. Amber Heard’s version of Mera was straight forward and a worthy counterpart to her comic character. She was strong, independent and didn’t fall into the category of typical female characters in comics that needed saving.
The villains were another highlight of the film. Many superhero films have villains that fall flat compared to their version from the comic books, like the Mandarin from Iron Man 3, or Lex Luther from Batman V Superman. But the villains in this film – even though their actions were nothing new – were great. Ocean Master was a menace played by Patrick Wilson who performed with such rage and determination that you couldn’t help but almost cheer for him. He was commanding and powerful. He was a warrior who had the brilliant mind of a tactician. His goal was more than hate fueled revenge. He had purpose.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who played Black Manta also did an excellent job. Some critics believed that his character was a waste and should have been left for the sequel but i think that he was perfect. The film set up his origin and laid out his path to becoming one of Aquaman’s best villains. The two villains interactions together pulled you in and had you waiting to see what they planned to do next.
I think that if DC continues to make great movies like this one, there wouldn’t be a distinction and bias between Marvel and DC. There would be no need for everyone to argue and compete about which is better. There would just be fun comic book movies for everyone to enjoy.