Thursday, January 3, 2019


Aquaman did what no other recent DC film has succeeding in doing so far.

There were some that reached levels of inherent wrongness that I couldn't bear to watch.

There were some that were flawed, but I found enjoyable and defended against detractors.

There were some that I agreed with the general consensus of commercial and critical success.

Aquaman was the first DC film that gave me the same feeling many Marvel films do, where I could have turned around, gone right back into the theater and watched it again.

The story maintains the mythological roots (in this case, Arthurian Legends, several versions of Atlantis and a few pantheons of sea dieties for good measure) for a DC hero’s iconic status, but it does it in a fun, engaging and visually amazing way.

The land locations were gorgeous, but it’s the undersea realms that were stunning and made this a rare case where the IMAX screen is worth it.

Iconically, Arthur is King of the Sea, but it has varied over the years whether he was a reluctant king, an accomplished king, an exiled king or other variations.  Add in that there really isn’t one definitive personality of Aquaman, and the film had the opportunity to pick and choose what worked for Jason Momoa’s interpretation.

This Aquaman had the toughness of Peter David’s version (also used in the DCAU), developed the regality of Dan Jurgens's version, showed the enthusiasm of the Batman Brave and Bold version, and retained the whimsy and powers of the Silver Age/ Super Friends version.

In other words, there were massive cinematically impressive battles including giant seahorses, monstrous creatures, and fistfights with a bulletproof super strong hero that enjoys the property smashing carnage while protecting innocents making the choices based on what is right.

The rest of the characters were equally engaging. 

Mera was always a powerful, royal woman in the comics who discovers the joys in the mundane things of the surface world through her connection to Arthur.  Amber Heard looked and acted like she stepped straight off of a comic’s page.  This was whether she was negotiating in commanding tones, or taking out a squad of Special Forces aquanauts on her own.

While he didn’t look like the classic version of the character, Willem Dafoe played the role of Arthur's mentor Vulko with the acerbic wit and wisdom comic fans could easily recognize.

Every hero needs villains, and Aquaman did what many super hero sequels fail at in its first outing. It balanced several bad guys in a single story.

Ocean Master and Black Manta are Aquaman’s two most key villains in the comics, both with strong connections to both Arthur individually, and Atlantis itself. 
Patrick Wilson had about as many variations and versions as Arthur has in the comics to pick from.  The movie Orm, while definitely in the wrong, has elements that make him understandable, and relatable yet fear inspiring. 

Like Mera, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s version of Black Manta comes straight out of the comics.  As usual for the character, there are elements that could, in other circumstances, generate sympathy, but his choices render him unworthy of those feelings.  It was very cool following the story they created that led him to look like the in print version.

Temura Morrison, Nichole Kidman and Dolph Lundgren as Tom Curry, Queen Atlanna and King Nereus were all noble in different ways. They also joined with Willem Defoe as sort of “Ghosts of Super Hero Films Past” to bring genre knowledge to a new generation.

Echo of final thoughts:
I was hoping the new Aquaman series would lead to a big budget blockbuster back when Green Lantern came out, and joked about them changing Topo.  Since that series was part of the Nu52 fiasco, I received two pleasant surprises.

1) Outside of Superman, Wonder Woman and a few other guests acting way out of character, the Nu52 Aquaman series, which I read in its entirety after seeing this movie, (initially written by movie Aquaman co-writer Geoff Johns) was nicely awesome.

2) Part of that “whimsical” bit I referenced was a magnificent appearance by Topo in a scene that was both an epic introduction to a fantastic action packed battle, and goofy as all heck.
Not that goofy, but it was a reference to a Disney Atlantis not in their Atlantis film that also looked to have some influence on this movie.

Real Final Thought-
Julie Andrews is ALWAYS awesome, and her characters ALWAYS know how to make an impressive entrance.


Anonymous said...


longbow said...

Is there an Adrian Grenier camero?
What about minnow? is minnow/Aqualad in it?

Jeff McGinley said...


No cameos referencing the past making fun of Aquaman. This one just highlights the awesomeness of what everyone made fun of. Even the talking to fish circle-y things. The first film would have been too busy with a sidekick, I'm sure Garth, Kaldur/ Jackson, or Tula will show up in the next one. Thanx for playing!