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“Aquaman”renews an old character

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“Aquaman”renews an old character

Ben Wheeler, Online Editor

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With the exception of “Wonder Woman” (2017), the DC Extended Universe has been an utter and complete mess. Films such as “Suicide Squad” (2016) and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)  were widely panned by everyone except the most devoted DC fans. Even “Justice League,”(2017) a film that was supposed to be the culmination of the previously mentioned films (including others), received a lukewarm reaction and fell victim to the same issues that plagued many of its DC predecessors. For me, its version of Aquaman/Arthur Curry, played by Jason Momoa, was one of the weaker parts of the film. His lines were awkward, his scenes felt forced and his motives within the film changed without reason.

Things couldn’t be any more different in the ocean-dwelling hero’s solo story “Aquaman,” which dropped this past December. This Aquaman solo film showcases Curry’s journey to discover and come to peace with his ties to Atlantis and relationship with its people, along with discovering his true inner strength. Parallel to Curry’s journey is the tale of the greed and vengeance-filled actions of Curry’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) who brings chaos to the seven seas in an attempt to wage war on the surface world. Eventually, these two stories meet and intertwine to determine the rightful ruler of Atlantis.

What stands out most about this film is the beautiful cinematography and imagery.  Director James Wan and his creative team picked the subtlest marine blues and greens to contrast with the bright neon colors of Atlantean architecture, clothes and weaponry. The result of this combination is an  array of scenes that seem to touch on many different areas of the full color spectrum without overwhelming the viewer. The scenes that take place in the desert are nearly as gorgeous as the aquatic scenes.

A close second in this film’s strengths is the score. Many of the underwater scenes are synced to up 1980s style synth, and the immersive effect is dramatic.  Other musical choices include more tame pieces with a more “classical” style, and the discord between these and the synth pieces is incredibly in-tune with the action/dialogue we see on screen. However, there are few cringeworthy moments, such as Pitbull’s version of Toto’s “Africa.” Need I say more? I think it was in there at least partially as a joke, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific.

Honestly, what I loved most about this film was the pacing. I could probably write another page about how the visuals massaged my eyes and the score massaged my brain, but the pacing is a true win for this movie. Other DC movies always rushed towards fantastic set pieces, but “Aquaman” takes a lot of time to breathe, especially in scenes where Curry and Mera (Amber Heard) work together and slowly become a team.  Don’t get me wrong, there are the fantastic set pieces and big action sequences in Aquaman, but Wan understood that they needed to be a part of the movie, not the whole.

That isn’t to say this film isn’t without flaws. While the film has an awesome cheesy 1980s action-adventure feel to it, watching it gave me the impression that not everybody involved bought into the direction the film took.  There are some scenes that involve some serious over-acting, and the quality of the writing comes and goes in waves more vicious than those atop the Atlantean sea. Still, the good outweighs the bad by a sizeable margin, and the film is extremely light and fun. It holds a critics score of 64 percent on Rotten Tomatoes’ official website, while the audience score comes in at 81 percent.

 

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