Jason Momoa is Aquaman in the DC Entertainment character’s first feature film. It hits cinemas December 26 and critic Tony Stamp reckons it’s completely ludicrous—and all the better for it.
Aquaman is a lot of movie. Nearly every shot is drenched in visual effects, doused with music, dripping with whiz-bang action. It’s a testament to the sure hand of director James Wan that it never gets overwhelming. In fact, it just gets more entertaining.
It’s like several movies stuffed into one—parts involving the villainous Black Manta are as gloriously cheesy as The CW’s DC roster, treasure hunts in the Sahara and Sicily come off like Indiana Jones (ok, maybe National Treasure), and there’s a whole lot of Star Wars/LOTR-type world-building going on under the sea.
Wan holds nothing back: Amber Heard wears a dress made of jellyfish. An octopus plays tribal drums. Dolph f*cking Lundgren shows up with bright red hair. And this is when things are just getting warmed up. It’s completely ludicrous, and all the better for it, Wan festooning his Hero’s Journey with as many visual whimsies as he can.
There’s also a small portion of brain-veges to go with all this eye-candy: Patrick Wilson’s King of Atlantis is quite rightly POed about humans trashing the ocean. But then again he’s pretty explicitly Aryan-coded, shrieking about pure bloodlines and whatnot. It’s confusing. Anyway holy shit here comes an army of fish monsters!
Jason Momoa’s screen presence was a concern going in, but you know what? He’s pretty great! Charismatic enough, even if his chemistry with Heard isn’t exactly off the charts. There is one extremely sweet romance in the film, but it isn’t theirs, it’s one that speaks to the film’s larger theme about uniting across racial lines.
DC have doubled down after the muted reaction to Justice League and thrown everything at the wall, and most of it sticks. In my screening the crowd started off pretty muted. When the last shot cut to black a big cheer rang out.