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As silly as it is to talk to fish, I don’t think I’d make fun of Aquaman to his face after seeing this badass film.

Directed by James Wan (The Conjuring, Furious 7), Aquaman stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abul-Mateen II and Temuera Morrison.

Set after the events of Justice League, the world unknowingly earns another spot on the ‘needing to be saved’ list. This time, Aquaman learns he is the rightful heir of Atlantis. But before he dethrones the manipulative King Orm, he needs to King Atlan’s trident and, on the way, discover what it means to become a king and a hero.

DC isn’t having a good run after its 5th studio film, Justice League. Hell, only Wonder Woman made it into the fresh section of Rotten Tomatoes. It’s also not a good sign when Marvel scriptwriters are giving advice to the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) due to poorly written and heavily edited films.

In any case, Aquaman bears substantial weight on its shoulders. Does it push forward the DCEU?

Yes, it most certainly does, but only with the help of the creative directors they choose to hire.

Aquaman has its flaws, especially in its pacing and repetitive story. However, dare I say, it’s the most fun I’ve had in any of the DCEU films to date, as well as the best use of CGI in 2018.

The smartest decision the DCEU heads have made so far is entrusting Aquaman to director James Wan.

With the Conjuring universe on his resume, Wan has experience connecting films together while maintaining a singular story; not bogging it down with references or characters from other films in that universe.

Aquaman doesn’t suffer from too many villains or too many heroes. It focuses on Arthur Curry’s journey to become Aquaman. This is what the DCEU needs to learn: to fabricate a fun and charismatic story first, then worry about a sequel or spin-off.

Wan’s signature style of one-shots and detailed set pieces translates from his horror films to his action films smoothly. Momoa and Heard lend a helping hand to the peaks of colorful action.

Momoa’s Arthur and Heard’s Mera follow their destination to Sicily only to battle Black Manta, one of the coolest villains in the DCEU, who is seeking revenge from Arthur. Wan brightens up rooftop chases on bright white architectures and bursts of red plasma beams demolishing buildings, and it’s mesmerizing.

Speaking of Momoa and Heard, the two character leads scream charm. Wan is the star of Aquaman, but without Arthur’s alluring personality and Mera’s fish out of water (pun intended) experiences on land, Aquaman wouldn’t be the same.

They ride the waves of Aquaman and the audience is totally along for the ride.

The couple’s awesome auras almost make you forget that Aquaman is basically just a Star Wars film underwater with different characters. You got the wise, elderly teacher, the companion, the hero’s journey and the familiar villain with his henchmen.

There’s even an emphasis on CGI extravaganza. It isn’t bad, but it’s clearly a distraction to oomph up the underwater noise.

The CGI, though, is an absolute marvel. DC’s version of Black Panther has come alive and Atlantis, along with its creatures and Atlanteans, is going to be a mainstay of DCEU’s upcoming films, or at least it should be.

I only wish Black Manta had more screen time. The end credits seem to suggest that he will be back in a sequel, but the underwhelming main villain that Patrick Wilson portrays is not as cracked up as it should be, compared to Arthur Curry/Aquaman.

I can’t deny it, Aquaman is a success in the DCEU’s filmography. The innards aren’t particularly original, but the shiny exterior that includes Atlantis, Arthur Curry and Wan’s direction outweigh the negatives.

Batman and Superman better be taking notes.

Aquaman

7.9

Hits
  • A focus on Aquaman's story and not a setup for sequels
  • Wan's one-shot action scenes and set pieces
  • Momoa and Heard make for great leads
  • CGI brings Atlantis to life
Misses
  • Overused plot
  • More of Black Manta!

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