BEIRUT: It’s no secret that the worlds of DC have been catastrophically imploding since Man of Steel, the much-hated and debated BATMAN V SUPERMAN, & JUSTICE LEAGUE, though witnessed a little hope with Wonder Woman.
Yet, with continuous production hiccups and delays, fans have been losing hope that their beloved DC heroes could ever find their stories told properly on the silver screen.
That is, until, the most recent release.
Helmed by the great James Wan, Aquaman surfaces as Arthur Curry, portrayed brilliantly by Jason Mamoa, and goes on the journey of his lifetime — one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be…a king.
Aquaman, in many ways, is the Star Wars of the superhero world.
It is an over-the-top spectacle, filled with massive fantastic battles, royal family dramas, and some of the best world building done on screen – let’s call it an epic underwater opera with galactic magnitude.
In creating the film’s mythos, Wan and team crafted an organic world under the depths of the oceans, with distinct kingdoms, cultures, and races all of which had a logic to function and purpose.
There is no doubt that this film’s visual landscape is breathtaking – from the oceanic color palette, to the fantastical creature and costume designs, to the jaw-dropping underwater sets, locations, and props.
The only way to properly engage with this film is to witness it on the largest screen possible.
Wan does not only give world builders a run for their money, but also films the most spectacular fight sequences since The Matrix.
Using long takes, Wan keeps the audience’s eyes glued to the screen yet never confuses nor loses the coherence of the fight, battle, or chase.
On a final note for the film’s visuals, Aquaman delivers some of the smoothest, and diegetic scene transitions.
It truly is a visual masterpiece and a complete revolution of visual effects and CGI.
At its core, the film’s narrative deals with a man who is ashamed of his heritage and the consequences that can have on a person.
To add on to that, Arthur faces difficulties and hardships even for a meta-human.
He evades his destiny, lets his ego get the best of him, fails, learns, then accepts his fate – if that’s not a proper hero’s journey I don’t know what is!
That said, family is another important aspect of the film.
Much like other sagas, this one focuses on an Atlantean family and their feud over power, the throne, and the future of their people.
Arthur inherits his powers from his mother and his humanity from his father, two people who came from different worlds and fell in love despite all odds. He is a product of that love and as a result blames himself for the repercussions.
In regards to the screenplay, the largest flaw is that some of the dialogue does fall heavy on poetic and heavy-handed.
Yet, as previously stated, all the moving pieces of the tale, from a forbidden love, to the politicking, to prophecies, and titanic battles point to AQUAMAN being an opera.
When one accepts that, then all of the film’s flaws become minor, insignificant, and easily forgivable, much like many other films have their forgivable moments.
For once, a strong female lead does try to hijack the narrative but instead creates a great partner in crime for the film’s protagonist.
The chemistry between Amber Heard’s Mera and Jason Mamoa’s Arthur is too good and one can’t help but fall in love watching them bicker, save one another, and fight together.
Both characters play to the actors’ strengths and this lifts the tale from the depths and marries it with the surface.
Patrick Wilson brings gravitas to Orm, Ocean Master, and gives it his all.
Orm’s character is interesting because he is clearly jealous of his older sibling and wants to prove himself worthy to Atlantis but allows his hatred to control his decisions.
Wilson is able to show that vulnerability and almost dangerous jealousy perfectly.
The final and most emphasized element of this film would have to be its soundscape.
An opera would be nothing without incredible music, and Rupert Gregson-Williams composes a score that revels that of any of the previous DC films.
Giving each of the characters themes, Williams turns big orchestral melodies for the film’s titular character, a regal and glorious tune for Orm, and an industrial and electronic feel for Black Manta.
Although there were a few song choices that felt a bit out of place, it doesn’t hurt the film too much.
Aquaman is truly a rebirth for the DC cinematic universe, and Warner Bros. should not let that ball drop and re-adapt their future plans along that path – maybe even consider giving James Wan the reins moving forward.
Not only does it elevate its source material, but it also entertains, and gives fans of DC comics the silver screen adaptation they’ve been hoping for and a film that most importantly, the whole family can enjoy.
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