Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
From Suicide Squad’s (2016) wasted potential to Justice League’s (2017) lukewarm reception, there’s a certain skepticism that already comes when watching a DC film. With the exception of Wonder Woman (2017), audiences have generally become wary of anything DCEU-related. Comparisons with Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) certainly don’t help, and with Avengers: Endgame and a slew of superhero movies just around the corner, Aquaman faces no easy task and has to step up to distinguish itself from the rest of the competition.
And step up, it definitely did. Aquaman is able to hold its own, and is worth a watch even from non-believers of the DC Extended Universe. Not too dark but not overly funny either, it has great pacing, well-developed characters, and exciting special effects. Director James Wan, Arthur (Jason Momoa) and Mera (Amber Heard) are table to take us on a very visual underwater journey to Atlantis. Plus, Aquaman’s mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) is not named Martha, so we can finally lay that Batman V. Superman joke to rest. Haha.
What I really like about Aquaman is that it successfully borrows elements from past blockbusters and combines them to form a solid film. With that said, here are the list of movies we got reminded of when we watched Aquaman:
1) The Lord of the Rings. Arthur Curry’s story is similar to that of Aragorn. They’re both outsider kings but rightful rulers of their people. Initially mistrusted and set aside, they are eventually able to win everyone over through their bravery and resolve. They pass tests of worthiness and end up commanding the impossible (Aragon convinces the Army of the Dead to help in the final battle of the Return of the King, while Arthur brings the Trench Dwellers to face Ocean Master).
2) Star Wars. It was beautiful when Mera and Arthur shared their first kiss. Time slowed down, and you can see ships and laser beams all over the ocean. At that moment, I smiled because it dawned on me that the whole thing was like one massive Star Wars brawl, except it had all sorts of water creatures instead of TIE fighters and AT-ATs.
3) Prince of Persia. Maybe it was the sand in the Sahara desert, or all the rooftop jumping that Mera did, but the sequence felt like something you would see in a Prince of Persia movie/game. In their search of King Atlan’s trident, they encountered puzzles which they needed to solve before they could move on with their quest. Once progress has been made, hordes of enemies or boss battles would occur (Ocean Master, Black Manta, etc.)–really entertaining touches, if you ask me.
4) Avengers: Age of Ultron. Mera has tremendous power, and we saw how she can manipulate water the way Arthur couldn’t. When Black Manta and the Atlantean commandos attacked Arthur and Mera, she found herself inside one of the wine rooms. Mera then released her fury and formed spikes to take out her enemies. During this awesome scene, she reminded us a lot of Scarlet Witch when she emerged from one of the abandoned homes in Sokovia, fully confident after Hawkeye’s pep talk.
5) Iron Man. Black Manta is clearly presented as a villain. He mercilessly kills a submarine officer at the start of the movie just because he didn’t like his answer. However, they take the time to develop his character by highlighting 1) his closeness with his dad, 2) his frustrated efforts at besting Aquaman (he prides himself as being the best but his humanity limits him), and 3) his technical know-how. The scene where he hacks Atlantean tech and molds it to his own is very Tony Stark of the first Iron Man movie (Tony fashioned his armor out of metal scraps found inside the cave where he was held captive).
6) Eat Pray Love. This is probably a surprise to anyone who has read this far, but yes, Eat Pray Love! Haha. I recall that Elizabeth Gilbert travels to find herself and Italy is one of her destinations. I think I got reminded of it when Mera walked around Sicily and mingled with the townsfolk, all the while being amazed and realizing that humans aren’t so bad after all. The flower-eating scene worked well because of Heard and Momoa’s chemistry, and I temporarily thought I was watching a romantic comedy.
7) Wonder Woman. Multiple sources have reported that Aquaman is basically DC’s Black Panther, except Erik Killmonger is the good guy. They may have a point there, but what it actually reminded me of was DCEU’s own Wonder Woman. Both films have fierce women warriors present (Queen Atlanna and Mera for Aquaman, and Diana and the Amazonians for Wonder Woman). Both films feature a superhero who does not fit into the world they are thrust in–the main difference is that Diana heads out of Themyscira into the world of humans, while Arthur leaves the world of humans to fight for Atlantis.
8) The Fast and The Furious. Before directing Aquaman, James Wan did Furious 7. I feel like this work stint influenced how each location greatly differed from one another, and how there were written labels on the screen (The Trench, Sahara Desert, Sicily, etc) each time the location changed. Oh, and that crazy jumping out of an airplane scene? That’s just something you’d expect from a Fast and Furious film.
Warner Bros. definitely hit gold with their latest offering, as Aquaman is able to restore our faith in the DC Extended Universe. Here’s to getting the same level of quality in the future!
Aquaman (Warner Bros. Pictures) is now available at cinemas near you!