Movies

‘Aquaman’ is a Cinematic Masterpiece – A Review of the Sixth Instalment of the DCEU Franchise

Photo via Nerdist

A newcomer to the DCEU, Aquaman is the sixth instalment of the franchise. It’s directed by James Wan (Saw (2004), The Nun (2018) and Insidious (2010)) and stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, William Defoe and Nicole Kidman. Aquaman tells the tale of Arthur Curry, a man born to a human father and Atlantian mother, who is forced to fight for the throne. He must stop his half-brother, Orm (Wilson), from becoming Ocean-Master, taking over Atlantis and declaring war on the surface world.

Image via Hollywood Reporter

I want to point out that Aquaman, one of DC’s most prominent characters, who in past iterations had been white with blonde hair and blue eyes was now cast as a Polynesian man. With parts of Momoa’s culture like the tattoos and haka-like stances and chants included, the movie is refreshing as there’s life breathed into the character.

One aspect of Aquaman that was hard to neglect was the quality of the visual effects (VFX). Astounding in every sense of the word, the visuals were positively breath-taking. A large part of what makes this movie worth several watches is the quality of the visual effects. Although many parts of the film were shot in a large swimming pool, the audience was pulled into the kingdom of Atlantis and other underwater kingdoms. Each shot was perfectly constructed, so it was hard to pick a favourite though I will say, the trench scene is one of the best moments and beautifully done scenes in VFX history. As to why the Academy snubbed it for ‘Best Visual Effects,’ the people will never know.

Image via Collider

Throughout the film, we see the contrasting personalities of a focused, dedicated and loyal Mera (Heard) and then of a somewhat-goofy, compassionate and thrill-seeking Arthur (Momoa), but as their characters develop, we witness them evolve and learn from each other. Mera becomes more adventurous and more willing to bend the rules, and then we see Arthur’s newfound sense of self and belonging develop. The chemistry between Heard and Momoa is unquestionable as it’s as if they have done this together a million times before.

At the beginning of Aquaman, when told of Orm’s plan to decimate the surface world, Arthur wants nothing to do with Atlantis or to rule it. However, we see Arthur evolve throughout he develops a loyalty to what would become his second home.

Image via Entertainment Weekly

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s performance as Black Manta was powerful and left a mark on the audience. Fuelled by revenge and resentment for Arthur, he transitions from a pirate to Black Manta.

Once again the recurring theme of mothers is present in Aquaman and integral to the development and influence of both our hero and villain of this story. Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) is added to the hall of fame of powerful and loving DCEU mothers, along with Martha Kent and Queen Hippolyta. Though it was brief, Kidman gave a performance full of heart and elegance that made us wish that she was all our mother.

Like other villains, Orm was fuelled by anger (and rightfully so) and sought the destruction of the surface world due to the pollution of his home. It mirrors the real-life issue of the pollution of our oceans we bear witness to and the unseen consequences of human actions. Orm was a compelling villain as we saw him in his journey to become Ocean-Master. Call me an Orm apologist but maybe Orm made some points when he dredged up all the trash that was discarded and the submarines too. *insert gif of Oprah shrugging*

Image via Collider

Honourable mention to the costume design – because with what could have easily become cartoonish and outdated was badass and exceeded all expectations!

TL;DR, Aquaman in a cinematic masterpiece with a great director, fight scenes choreographed to perfection, well-established and developed characters and a lesson that we surface-worlders can learn from. Aquaman has already made $94 million in China as of December 10th and impresses with a $28 million opening weekend domestically.

You can watch trailer here and the film is available to watch in cinemas now.

Photo via DenofGeek

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