Review corner: Episode 1 – Aquaman

I’ve read comics for a long time. There are always periods where I’m out of the loop but the love of the characters was always there. That being said I was never very into Aquaman. He didn’t seem to have much going on. This is partly due to my ignorance about the character. My knowledge of Aquaman was mostly based on what I saw on the Super Friends cartoon, or Justice League books, but he never had the appeal of Batman or Green Lantern or the Flash for me. He could talk to fish and swim? Um ok great, I guess?

I rarely see a superhero movie I don’t like. The reason being that these are characters I read about and watched cartoons of when I was a weird kid who played on his own a lot. So now as an adult seeing them larger than life on the screen makes me feel like a kid again. I’m not like most of the critics on the internet who hate on the movies because they already had a preconceived notion what the movie should be, and when the movie isn’t that, they instantly hate on it. This doesn’t mean I don’t see the problems in movies like Batman V Superman or Justice League, but I’m able to move past them very quickly and enjoy it for what it is. A big movie with heroes from the pages of the comics I read as a kid.

Courtesy: Warner Bros.

In Justice League, Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman was a badass. He was a reluctant hero pulled in to the fight against Steppenwolf by Batman. He stood out as the guy who didn’t want to be there but was having fun kicking butt. An attitude that very much carried over to his solo film. The DC films get a bad wrap for being overly dark and not having the heart that the Marvel movies do. Well Aquaman has broken that mold.

This felt very much like Thor: Ragnarok underwater. The visual effects were amazing, it was colourful and it was funny. I saw it in 3D and I’m glad I did. Having the depth made a big difference in the underwater sequences where fish were everywhere, especially during the large battle. Besides being a standard superhero movie it was an adventure movie too. Arthur Curry goes on a quest to find the trident that would make him king of Atlantis and regain control from his power hungry half brother King Orm and save the surface world. Black Manta is also seeking revenge against Aquaman for the death of his father, but that subplot is kind of squished in there with everything else and is almost forgettable and mostly unnecessary to the story.

Besides leaving the theater feeling like I need to workout more (thanks Jason Mamoa) I also felt like I had seen an awesome movie. This is what DC and Warner Bros. need to aim for with their properties. It doesn’t have to be all gritty doom and gloom and it doesn’t have to be Batman & Robin campy either. There is a happy medium and Aquaman sits there perfectly.

Art by Brad Walker

At many points during the movie I found myself wondering how often the writers and directors play D&D. Many of the creatures of the ocean kingdoms look identical to something found in the 5th edition Monster Manual. This isn’t a negative. This showed me that it would be possible to make a good D&D movie. The creatures from the trench looked like vicious Sahaugin and the Brine looked like Aldani lobster men. And the story seemed very much like a D&D quest. These things are probably why I enjoyed it as much as I did. The Dungeon Master in me was taking mental notes for things to include in my game.

Courtesy Warner Bros.

There were some cheesy lines and gags that seemed a little forced but overall I loved this movie. It’s probably one of my favourite DC films to date and makes me wonder what they would do with the Flash if they ever make his standalone film. This is the direction DC should go in. Get rid of the gritty Zack Snyder and bring in more directors like James Wan. I think this weekend I’m going to re-watch the other shared DC universe movies and see Aquaman again with my son. And maybe pick up an Aquaman comic while I’m at it.

What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments.

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