By: Tristan Mabee
Aquaman is a formulaic superhero movie with a few new twists. It is far from redefining the genre, but it is worth watching for anyone who enjoys a good superhero movie.
The plot is predictable, with the few twists managing to amuse, but not surprise, most of the audience. A predictable plot, however, is far from a weak point in this film, for while it is predictable and some parts fail to be explained satisfactorily, the plot still makes sense throughout.
And the plot services as a decent backdrop for what the movie showcases: the action scenes. The movie makes this apparent, as less than ten minutes in, the audience is treated to a well-shot fight scene which also neatly sets up the conflict of the entire film. The fight scenes throughout the movie generally get better over time, with all of them being passable but, again, far from mind blowing in concept. However, this buildup in battle scale is intentional, and the movie is improved for it. The idea of starting from a simple one room fight and gradually upping the ante to a giant fight between hundreds of combatants, some from entirely different races, helps maintain a sense of scale which may have been lost if the smaller fights weren't included. The camera work did much to maintain this sense of scope and kept every battle focused, no matter how much action was happening at any one time. This leads to some great fight scenes, no fight scene however, seemed to be groundbreaking.
Fortunately, there are enough action scenes and serviceable twists to keep audience members entertained through the two-and-a-half hour runtime. While many fans likely balked at the idea of such a long movie just to explain a character’s background, paradoxically it seems that the movie could have benefitted from a bit more runtime instead. Especially considering dialogue, where often-important plot points, such as the seven undersea races, are explained in a single line with differing scenes which last only a few seconds each. Furthermore this is the only background the audience gets for some races, leaving a blank as to who they are. There are also some pretty important questions left unanswered, such as how Black Manta and Ocean Master met in the first place, much less how they got to working terms and even how they planned a fake assassination attempt. The film does more right than wrong with the plot, even considering these misgivings. What was probably the strongest point was how every character motivation, or lack of motivation in Aquaman's case, was explained very clearly. For example, Black Manta wants revenge on Aquaman when the latter let the former's father die. Nearly every other character has motivations that are just as clear, and the clear goals along with good acting create meaningful and realistic characters; even if these characters are within a race with unclear motivations.
While nearly every member of the cast creates a convincing performance,Owen Wilson (Ocean Master) and Jason Momoa (Adult Aquaman) stand out in their roles, enhancing the movie. Owen especially sells his role of an Atlantean who is just trying to do what’s best for his people, albeit in an especially genocidal manner. Whereas Aquaman is much looser in both dialogue and action, which makes sense considering his background as an outsider in Atlantis. These two add a special sheen to the movie which help make it go from acceptable to very good.
While Aquaman doesn’t earn the description groundbreaking, it’s a solid film that does what it sets out to do nicely and wraps nearly seventy years of Aquaman lore neatly into a two and a half hour package. There are definitely some changes that should have occured, and it feels like a world that fails to be fully explored, despite the fact that nearly every place on and in the world was explored. This little bit that's held back leads to the four out of five star rating. What is here is quite good, but there should have been more in some areas, and less in others. What is important to note is the extreme box office success this movie has generated, as Aquaman passed the one billion mark on the 8th of January. This is the highest grossing film of any in the DC extended Universe, and is the tenth to top the $1 billion mark in theaters.