‘Aquaman’: Mera Showcase Another DC Base-Hit [Review]

Warner Bros. has managed to pull off another perfectly serviceable entry into their DC Extended Universe of films with Aquaman. Is it great or memorable? No, neither of those terms are likely to be at the forefront while you exit the theater, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun way to kick back for a few hours.

Aquaman
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We’ve seen Jason Momoa already a few times now in his role as Aquaman – both in Batman v. Superman as well as in Justice League, now we get to fill in the blanks for his own origin story as well as ostensibly as a solo film. However he’s frequently overshadowed by Mera (played by Amber Heard) as well as Queen Atlanna (played by Nicole Kidman).

Anytime they’re on-screen everything they say or do expresses a vast amount of compelling backstory which feels like it would have made for a more interesting film. There’s nothing wrong with Jason’s Aquaman, he looks the part, he’s suitably fish out of water (sorry, you know you were going to get at least one fish joke), coming off more as a surfer dude that can swim fast but beyond that his main m.o. is winking to the camera and witty comebacks. His successes feel more like dumb luck than skill, while Atlanna and Mera are both skilled warriors as well as capable. The closest comparison I can think of is while watching the Solo: A Star Wars Story film, Han Solo was fine, but left really wishing it would have been a Lando-focused film instead.

In this film, the events from Justice League have already happened (with a single Steppenwolf throwaway reference), and Aquaman is doing his regular thing of drinking and saving sailors when they’re in peril, but steadfastly avoiding anything to do with Atlantis or it’s denizens. When Aquaman’s half-brother (who is also the current ruler of Atlantis), King Orm (played by Patrick Wilson) begins to bring together the various undersea kingdoms to attack the surface world (using the premise that the surface dwellers have been killing their people with pollution, climate change, and the threat of military attack), Mera reaches out to being Aquaman into the resistance.

At the moment, especially given the current world political climate, there’s no lack of films where the bad guy is advocating for domination due to real or imagined threats from the “others”. There’s nothing really original or inspired in the story arc itself, so it’s down to enjoying the characters, and it’s clear that Momoa is having a blast of a time, so that helps keep it from becoming dull between set pieces.

This makes three out of the six DCEU films which are really enjoyable superhero films. What’s ironic is that each of those three (Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, and now Aquaman) are all origin stories/solo films. It’s when Warner Bro’s tries to bring their threads together for a multi-hero story that it seems to keep missing the target. It’ll be interesting to see if next year’s Shazam will keep up the trend.

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Aquaman swims into theaters on Friday, December 21st 2019 in the States.

About Bill Watters

Games programmer by day, geek culture and fandom writer by night. You'll find me writing most often about tv and movies with a healthy side dose of the goings-on around the convention and fandom scene.

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