It is not usual in cinema that the responsibility of introducing a new superhero to the world falls in the hand of someone like James Wan. The reason being his professional career, which has been devoted mostly to horror movies like Insidious, Conjuring, Saw, Dead Silence and sequels to a few of them. Not that I’m being naïve here, but the audience and the genre differs widely. However, given that he has directed Furious 7 (2015), which went on to make $1.5 billion somehow and became the highest ever rated movie in the Fast And Furious franchise, comes off as a surprise. Hence, it was in June 2015 when Wan was confirmed by DC camp as the director for Aquaman.
Aquaman is the fifth entrant in the DC Extended Universe. With Wonder Woman being the only critically acclaimed movie in the franchise so far, Wan’s task was not only to advance in this relay race of superhero madness, but also to create an entirely new world to the audience which was never explored on the big screen.
Aquaman kicks-off beautifully with a warming backstory of his parents Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) and a quote about land and sea from Jules Verne. Aquaman learns that he’s “half-bred” and his mother, the Queen, had to abandon him only to save his life. Soon, he discovers the truth that his mother has been executed for abandoning the laws and the kingdom of Atlanta.
The magnificent and ever-lasting visuals of the movie are a delight. There’s a nearly five minutes sequence where Aquaman takes a tour of the underwater world of Atlantis. In order to boost up the scene, even Aquaman is shown as wonderstruck by the beauty the ocean beholds within – naturally and the advancement in technology. And the film’s appealing visual effects are simply not restricted to the world of ocean but also the and. The best example being the use of yellow color pallete during their foray into the desert. Even the action scenes are well shot – apart from being enormous sometimes which comes off as a sour spot a couple of times. One of the finest action scenes which is visually absorbing as well was shot in the steep hilly area of the sea-based town Sicily. The scenic topographies bought additional weight to both – the visuals and the story, otherwise it could have all skewed towards “blue” of the ocean.
Also, timely humor and music successfully turned this into a complete popcorn entertainment. But it was a task to balance the movie when it turns dark and horrifying at times, especially when it comes to the deadly and ugly creatures of the “kingdom of Trench”. Being the first superhero movie, which has a major chunk of story based underwater has completely worked in favor of all. There was an enormous scope to work upon the creativity behind the same.
When it comes to the story arc, it somewhat takes a backfoot. This can be attributed to certain factors. One of the primary factor being the nature of repeatedness of superhero angle arc. Moreover, not far back in time, a superhero movie similar to this has already been in viewer’s head for quite a while. That’s right – Thor! The purpose of brining the name here is not to compare the two movies, but to highlight the bias it creates. Aquaman has its own plot and a reasonable arc but it suffers from a climax which somewhat feels tangential as much it looks empty. In a world, where audience have been awed by the firmness and maturity in story-arcs of superhero movies like The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Winter Soldier etc, Aquaman fails to come near to it. Even after this, it still succeeds to highlight the message of “love means bond and bond means love” by the time it hits the credit scenes. There were a few instances when real life issues were brought up- mostly concerning with the impact of climate change and how the advent of industrial revolution has severed the aquatic life especially in the last 50 years or so.
In a nutshell, Aquaman is a popcorn DC offering which most of the fans have been waiting to see. With eyepopping visuals along with artistic depth, action sequences and humor taking a central stage, the weakness of climax and lack of character depth stands shadowed.
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Aquaman will be followed by Shazam next April- DC’s only movie in 2019 whereas they have four movies due out in 2020 namely Birds Of Prey, Cyborg, Wonder Woman 1984, Green Lantern Corps.