Aquaman, a story about a guy named Arthur Curry who is the heir to an under water kingdom and has to make a choice to leave the life he knows to become the leader he is destined to be. After seeing Justice League earlier this year, to say I was worried was an understatement.
I was, and am, a big fan of Batman vs Superman. Say what you want about the Martha Scene but I thought Ben Affleck did the best job playing Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne (Yes I said that correctly and thats a rant for another time). Suicide Squad was a weird movie where it felt like they told all the actors that they were the lead and as a result the story didn't flow right, not to mention they had a terrible villain. Wonder Woman was awesome which made me excited for Justice League, where everything proceeded to go off the rails. This post isn't to bash Justice League but I thought it could have been much much better. It didn't look like a 300 million dollar movie. JL left a very low expectation for Aquaman. Jason Momoa did a fine job, his character just didn't have depth. Well, his solo movie fixed all of that and even made his original Super Friends style uniform look awesome! Here are the 10 reason Aquaman was one of my favorite movies of 2018.
1. Jason Momoa
This is the best performance Jason has done to date in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, he was fantastic in Game of Thrones. He had one dimension to play and he killed it. His charm and personality allowed him to demonstrate a level of width and depth he's never needed to use before but absolutely killed it in this movie. When he gets to the climax and turning point of the story, he is so genuine, it makes you feel what he's feeling and root for him even more. It's obvious he loves playing Aquaman. Fantastic job and very surprising.
2. The Visuals
Wow, just wow. The world they created is amazing. I did not know what to expect but this far exceeded any expectations I had. Everything from the hidden areas of the underwater world to the crazy action scenes. Even though like 80% of this movie is CG it doesn't always feel like it and all of the actors really blended it well with the Digital backgrounds.
3. Black Manta
They really gave this character the time to introduce him, flesh out his motivations, and gave him a really solid arc that forced him to grow as a character. From the story about his Grandpa being one of the best Navy Seals in his unit, to how he got his manta suit and how he changed it. They didn't explain he was a tech genius who knew how to take experimental Atlanteans armor and put it back together again but that didn't bother me too much at the time. From his introduction as a pirate to his Black Manta armor reveal, I thought Yahya Abduk-Mateen II put his all into the character and really made you feel for him early on. The end credit scene with him was pretty cool too and the agent who helps him. He's from Ant Man, thats where lol, I could not remember at the time.
Patrick Wilson is an awesome actor. He did an amazing job playing Aquaman's half brother Orm. You start off the film thinking he is some tyrannical xenophobe who only wants to destroy the surface world but he's much more than that. They gave Orm the motivation of wanting to protect the oceans from man's pollution. He is trying to become the Ocean Master. Don't get me wrong, he does some classic villain stuff like killing a mermaid (seriously) but his intentions are based on what he was taught from his father and his father's supporters. The film also did a great job of showing the difference between the higher born Atlanteans and the general public by explaining they can breath air just as well as they can water and really set the last battle up between Aquaman and Orm to contrast with the Ring of Fire fight earlier in the movie.
5. The New Trident
One of the main questions I had going into this movie was, why does his trident have three prongs instead of the five he had in Justice League? Answer, one of the smoothest, most natural ways I can think of to swap out one thing in a movie for another one. It turns out that the trident from Justice League was Aquaman's mother's Trident and Orm uses his fathers. That means the Tridents in this world are family heirlooms that are passed down to the heirs. Of course that makes sense. The iconic three prong trident Aquaman ends up with at the end of the movie was the first trident of King Atlan who used its power to further the early Atlanteans technological advances as well as his power over the ocean.
6. The Super Friends Suit
You know what would look awesome, a Green and Orange suit with scales....said no one ever. But somehow, they made that style look awesome. They changed the orange to a glimmering gold and kept the rest. It turns out that the uniform was originally King Atlan's and when he did something that ended up sinking the whole city of Atlantis, he banished himself with the trident to wait for the true heir to find his hiding place in the secret sea and defeat this Lovecraftian kind of creature. I know, that sounds pretty lame, ok Hercules, beat this monster and win a prize but it is probably one of the most genuine parts of the movie and the way Jason Momoa chose to have Arthur act really resinated with me and made me feel like, man, I like this guy.
7. Arther Can Talk to Fish
It was a joke in Justice League, a poorly executed one, but in this movie it is actually pretty cool. Early in the movie while Arthur is at a school field trip some bullies, whom you see in the trailers, make fun of him. This is the first time Arthur uses his powers of communicating with sea life. I know in the comics they were going to call this Arthur Curry's connection to an unseen force called the clear but thankfully they didn't go into that. Way to avoid a BvS situation with too many comic references there.
8, The Characters Development
It seems like each of the supporting characters like Mera, Vulko, Nereus, and Atlanna started with one mindset and, through the events of the movie, grew in some way. Mera started off supporting Arthur but she was doing it quietly and by the end of the movie, she's 100% team Aquaman. Are her adventures with Arthur looking for King Atlan's clues about how to find his trident fun? Yes. Is Amber Herd and Jason Momoa's on screen chemistry super convincing and make you believe they are falling in love...not really but that's ok. They have this fun buddy dynamic that should be the base of every relationship and I think it does a good job bridging their relationship from acquaintances to an item at the end of the movie.
9. The Introduction of Atlanteans
We got a glimpse of the Atlanteans in Wonder Woman and then again in Justice League, both were pretty underwhelming. Their outfits were bland and colorless, there wasn't any really reason given why Atlantis sunk to the bottom of the ocean and the only other Atlantean you saw was Mera. In this movie, They explain the whole thing and give everything meaning. I love how they based a lot of the textures of their armor off of sea life and kept their colors bright, much like sea life as well. They explained that when an Atlantean swims to the deeps, their eyes adjust and they can see, which was the other question I had. Why was it so light in Atlantis? Answer, its not they can just see in the dark. It also explained King Atlan's backstory and tied the new trident and suit up like I mentioned before.
10. The Story
Last year I loved the movie, Thor: Ragnarok and this story reminded me of that multiple times but not in a copy cat kind of way. They did a ton of exposition but what would you expect with Aquaman's last two appearances where they didn't do a damn thing to explain Aquaman or Atlantis. The story had good pacing and felt natural as they moved from Arthur on land, to Arthur's first experiences with Atlanteans. Mera's first real experience with surface life, and Arthurs ascent to become the Hero Atlantis needed. Im gonna say it, I liked this better than Wonder Woman. Specifically because the villain(s) of this movie were really really good. DC finally figured out how to make a villain you both care about and can root against!
This movie gave me everything I was looking for in an Aquaman movie and so much more. I am now, finally, looking forward to the million DC movies coming out in the future, specifically Shazam. If you disagree or agree with anything I said, comment below and let's have a conversation.