James Wan (director)
2h 23mins (length)
13 December 2018 (released)
17 December 2018
A heavily tattooed Jason Momoa is back as Aquaman, aka Arthur Curry, in this sprawling epic tale which spans 162 minutes. So do settle in.
This time D.C.comic book fans get the full story of the sea-friendly superhero which begins with a romance between his earthbound father Tom (Temuera Morrison) and queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman).
After Tom finds Atlanna unconscious on the rocks near his lighthouse in Massachusetts, washed ashore as she runs from an arranged marriage in the undersea world of Atlantis, the pair fall in love and have a baby, named Arthur after the mythic British king. But their romantic idyll is brutally interrupted when Atlantean stormtroopers show up mob-handed to take Atlanna back to her death.
We see Arthur as he grows from a lonely kid to adulthood, developing a growing awareness of his gifts. In one scene when the young Arthur is bullied by a couple of older kids while on a school trip to the aquarium, a shark smashes up against the glass in an attempt to protect him. He also secretly receives warrior training from Atlantean mandarin Vulko (Willem Dafoe).
Later, as an adult we see him come to the rescue of a submarine's crew who have been attacked by pirate David Kane/Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), and his father (Michael Beach). But after Aquaman ruthlessly lets Kane's father die, he becomes an ally to his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson).
Arthur is content swimming along in his own lane, until Mera, princess of the underwater kingdom of Xebel, arrives to convince him to take his place on Atlantis' throne in order to unseat Orm - who plans to unite and lead the underwater kings in a pre-emptive attack on all those "surface air-breathers" poisoning both land and sea.
She believes Aquaman is the only person who can stop this, and that his mixed ancestry will bring a peace between humans and water-dwellers.
Director James Wan's imagination runs riot in this colourful explosion of comic book campness. The costuming is beautiful, and the set design intricate and bold, however, it is the human performances which fail to do the full story justice.
Wilson is miscast as the villainous Orm and elicits more laughs with his threats than fears. While Momoa's macho shtick overcompensates for the lack of chemistry between himself and a very wooden Heard. And what is it with female superheros being required to wear heels?
Kidman is well cast as Atlanna, and shows a steely side, acquitting herself well in the action scenes (ok the stuntwoman did). Both Dafoe and Dolph Lundgren, who plays Mera's father King Nereus, manage to look stately and keep a straight face during the proceedings.
Aquaman is like a cartoon on steroids and is the kind of film I would have loved when I was 10 years old. Full of crash bangs and wallops, scary CGI monsters, elaborate alien worlds, and very little romance. So kids will love it. But while it is action-packed, be prepared to leave the cinema feeling more attacked by it than entertained.