It’s testament to how painful the DC Cinematic Universe had become that this one might be cut too much slack because it doesn’t make you want to tear your eyeballs out. Director James Wan serves up plenty of flash in this story that foregrounds the seafaring super-hero (Jason Momoa), a half-human/half-Atlantean who reluctantly seeks his place as heir to the undersea kingdom after his half-brother (Patrick Wilson) looks to go to war with the surface world. There’s also another villain called Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who exists mostly to pad the running time and set up a sequel, plus a few images that are actually striking—like a horde of undersea demons pursuing Aquaman and the princess Mera (Amber Heard)—rather than simply gaudy. Mostly, there’s a huge problem with the main character, who simply makes no consistent sense—he feels like pasted-together snippets of Spider-man, Thor and Harry Potter—despite Momoa’s game, charismatic attempt to provide some earthy humor. It’s just too busy and overstuffed a narrative, more concerned with making sure we believe Aquaman is part of their world than with making him human enough to feel like part of ours.
Director: James Wan
Producer: Peter Safran, Rob Cowan, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns and Walter Hamada
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Ludi Lin, Michael Beach, Randall Park, Graham McTavish, Leigh Whannell, Tainui Kirkwood, Tamor Kirkwood, Denzel Quirke, Kaan Guldur, Otis Dhanji, Kekoa Kekumano, Julie Andrews, John Rhys-Davies, Djimon Hounsou, Andrew Crawford, Sophia Forrest and Natalia Safran