A running joke on Entourage, the Aquaman movie is finally a reality – albeit with Jason Momoa and James Wan onboard, not Vincent Chase and James Cameron.
The good news is that Aquaman washes away the murky aesthetic of prior DC films to deliver a vibrant fantasy adventure that resembles a submerged Thor, or The Little Mermaid on steroids.
When the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) washes up at the base of a Maine lighthouse after fleeing an arranged marriage, she’s nursed back to health by the keeper, Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison). Before you can say Splash, they fall in love and a child is born, Arthur – a half-breed who can unite the undersea world and our own.
With the origin story quickly sorted, what follows is the old ‘one true king must dethrone power-mad sibling and save the kingdom’ chestnut, with Arthur/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) tasked with defeating his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who’s fed up with surface dwellers polluting the ocean and is preparing for war.
But first Arthur needs to locate an Excalibur-like trident with the help of flame-haired Atlantean Mera (Amber Heard), requiring side-trips to the Sahara and Sicily (that feel like they’ve strayed in from Indiana Jones).
Although renowned for his horror films, James Wan is actually a better action director (see Fast & Furious 7 and his early film Death Sentence if you need convincing). While the plot meanders like a beached crab, he ensures Aquaman is always interesting visually, going the extra mile to pull off inventive shots and dynamic action sequences, while maintaining control of a tsunami of CGI.
Moreover, Wan is a fanboy who loves the finer details of a fantasy world, and Atlantis is brimming with imaginatively designed creatures, armour and weapons, even if it does resemble a composite of Pandora, Middle-earth, and Asgard.
Aquaman is a movie that kids will absolutely love, and pure eye candy for everyone else. Ignore the shambolic plotting and corny dialogue and enjoy it for the sheer spectacle – and the sight of Willem Dafoe riding a giant hammerhead shark.
In cinemas: December 26, 2018
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman
Directed by: James Wan