Country: USA, Australia
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Director: James Wan
David Leslie Johnson
Music: Rupert Gregson-Williams
Cinematography: Don Burgess
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
After savoring an amuse-gueule in Zack Snyder’s JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017), we finally gets the full-blown grandeur of the underwater kingdom Atlantis in James Wan’s AQUAMAN, the original story of Arthur Curry (Momoa), the half-Atlantean, half-human bastard son of Atlanna, the Queen of Atlantis (Kidman) and a lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Maori actor Temuera Morrison), and pluckily becomes the first DCEU movie to hit $1 billion theatrical gross worldwide.
The main plot uninspiringly likens a reversal of the throne-challenging smack-down in BLACK PANTHER (2018), and it does raise one’s eyebrow to the archaic and unfashionable idea that monarchical sovereign is totally up to a brawny mano-a-mano among blue-blooded candidates. Here the legit king of Atlantis, is Arthur’s half-brother, thoroughbred Atlantean Orm Marius (Wilson), who is bent on rallying all seven seas to wage a war on ocean-polluting surface dwellers (hear, hear!), only his lofty cause is destined to be frustrated by Arthur, who, with the unyielding aid of princess Mera (Heard), Orm’s pacifist fiancée, ultimately unseats him after acquiring the Trident of Atlan, the legendary, omnipotent, refulgent weapon belongs to the very first ruler of the Atlantis, and is guarded by a humongous leviathan Karathen (voiced by Julie Andrews!) for eons.
If the script is subserviently ground out, Wan and his team really pulls their back into authoring a cutting-edge, revolutionary modality in visualizing underwater motions, various ocean dwellers mincing, bolting, advancing and combating with a piscine fluidity in shining armors, and details of their submersed hair and accoutrements are not missed either. The final outcome can definitely transfix a first-time viewer agape with pleasurable wonderment, not to mention the fluorescent kingdom of Atlantis, it is cyberpunk grafted onto futurism, and Wan’s horror-inflected phalanxes of army in the realm of the Trench.
Sceneries on terra firma is understandably eclipsed by their marine counterparts, save Arthur and Mera’s layover in a rustic Sicilian village, which takes the brunt of the on-screen devastation of our surface dwellers, when the pair is ambushed by a contingent led by the revenge-seeking Black Manta (Abdul-Mateen II), a slick, engrossing action piece pulled off by alternating viewpoints and swooping long takes.
For what it is worth, AQUAMAN is steadily on the par with what we can envision from an ideologically unadventurous, heftily funded mainstream commodity, not tossed off, but hammered out with noticeable endeavor. Momoa’s down-to-earth underdog beefcake lacks some panache and idiosyncrasy, notwithstanding, Wan really flexes his muscles in his less ostentatious (obviously, an epithet derived from the comparison with another more seasoned James in the industry) process of pushing the envelope of our cinematic visual paradigm, if the script department could really break a sweat, his future will be inestimable.