The son of Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and a simple lighthouse keeper Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison), Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) wants nothing to do with his royal heritage after his mother leaves them behind to return to her underwater kingdom. But when Princess Mera (Amber Heard) reaches out to tell him of a significant threat from the deep seas by his own family, and the people of Atlantis, Arthur needs to choose which world he belongs to.
There aren’t any path-breaking surprises in ‘Aquaman’s storytelling, but the presentation is refreshing. The CGI work is top notch, especially during some of the fantastic underwater set pieces. James Wan pays a lot of attention to the stunt choreography and how the action is interpreted through slick camera work including some impressive long-take sequences. This keeps the momentum flowing, even as the run-time feels a little bloated especially when the plot runs into choppy waters in the second act.
At this point, the film stumbles over itself as it takes on a tone that’s too on-the-nose for its own good. There’s one romantic angle in ‘Aquaman’ that feels very forced, but another comes across more genuinely. The humour doesn’t always land either and is the missing ingredient in some of the sequences that lack nuance – a premise this outlandish should be able to laugh at itself a lot more. In the antagonist department, there are one too many villains, with Black Manta feeling more like a subplot than a severe threat. Fortunately, Arthur Curry’s backstory doesn’t suffer the same fate in an energising mix that blends the present with the past.
Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, and Willem Dafoe put in strong acting work individually to bring sufficient depth to the proceedings. Collectively, they enhance the weaker links across the plot, which elevates the film overall. Despite its flaws, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the latest entry to the DC Extended Universe, which mainly comes from the charismatic lead. ‘Aquaman’ wouldn’t work as well if it weren’t for its hero, and while there may be other fish in the sea, (read ‘actors’), there seems to be no one better equipped to play the King of the Seven Seas than Jason Momoa. He dominates the screen with his presence and puts his own stamp on a character who has been the butt of jokes in the comic book world, to make him unquestionably cool again. That, combined with the insane action, make for convincing reasons to watch ‘Aquaman’. Go on, dive in.