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December 24, 2018

Aquaman (2018) --- "The Tide Is Coming...Home Is Calling."

Plot Summary
Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people -- and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm's half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     In the world of comic book-to-film adaptations, DCEU once ruled the stage as the fan’s favorite provider of live-action films that bring our favorite paper bound heroes to life. In 2008 Marvel introduces Iron Man as the first film of Phase One in the MCU and with each new film, Marvel has secured its spot as a worthy contender for the throne. However, the same cannot be said for DCEU, which has been limping from film to film in its struggled to consistently deliver exceeding quality for one reason or another. The release of Wonder Woman (2017) brought hope and renewed life back to the franchise, but things started to take a step back with the less than desired release of Justice League Part 1 (2017) later on in the same year. This year DCEU once again provides hope to fans and moviegoers alike with Jason Momoa taking on the role of the legendary king of Atlantis Aquaman/Arthur Curry in his first solo film titled Aquaman (2018). With the coming of highly anticipated Marvel films coming to theaters in 2019 – Captain Marvel (March), Avengers: Endgame (April), and Spider-Man: Far From Home (July) – can Aquaman bring life back to the DCEU franchise or will it fall short like so many of its predecessors?

     I would not necessarily call myself a DCEU fan, while I’ve enjoyed most of the films in the franchise I am a bit more invested in Marvel, but I have been eagerly anticipating this film since it was announced in July of 2016. Not to mention I am a huge fan of Jason Momoa (Netflix’s Frontier; Justice League). With James Wan (Furious 7) as the director, and David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (Wrath of the Titans. The Conjuring 2 & 3), Will Beall (Gangster Squad), and Geoff Johns (Titans and The Flash TV series) as the writers, Aquaman (2018) is sure to leave a lasting impression.
     It seems that the DCEU is starting to learn from their past mistakes and understand what audiences want. I was pleasantly surprised that while it seemed like the trailers may have revealed the entire film, that was not the case. While I do believe that certain aspects could have been left out of the trailers, I was still left guessing with how the story would play out.
     The opening sequence is captivating and the rest of the film follows a medium tone that provides a heartwarming and visual treat. The first half of the film is slow as the audience gets to learn a bit about Atlantis and the film’s main character, Arthur Curry/Aquaman. The story does a great job expressing the love that Arthur’s parents had for each other, this allows for the emotion and heart to be important parts of the story and main character.
     The second half moves at a reasonably fast pace with action sequences and climactic fight scenes that are sure to wow and amaze audience members. The jaw-dropping climax scene is met with almost mind-numbing silence. The last time I experience utter silence such as this was during the climax of Avenger: Infinity War (2017), which also seemed to have sucked all the air out of the auditorium. Now while I cannot say why the climax evokes utter silence, what I can say is it is jaw-dropping enough to silence the auditorium and bring the viewers to the edge of their seat. Between the two half’s there is also a great deal of comedy thrown about, which is important as it does play into the sort of playful and joking aspect of Momoa’s character.  It’s not too much where it leaves you feeling overstretched but neither does it leave you wanting more, rather it is a perfect balance.
     Aside from the comedy, drama, and action, Aquaman (2018) is a visual masterpiece and literally out of this world. In a way, it reminds me of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) in that it feels immersive and other-worldly, especially the underwater sequences. The visual effects that they used for the underwater scenes, which there are a lot of, make me eagerly anticipate a live-action version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
     The cast provides solid performances. Jason Momoa is perfect as Arthur Curry/Aquaman and his performance brings the character to life. I am a huge fan of Momoa and aside from Gal Gadot, he stood out to me in Justice League, to see him get his own film is both great and well deserved. He has a natural talent at playing the gruff warrior which is part of the character but he also has a natural bohemian and joking nature that is exactly what this character needs. Amber Heard (Magic Mike XXL. The Danish Girl) was a surprise. I knew she would be good as Mera but I was not expecting her to be this good, she far exceeded my expectations. Patrick Wilson (The Nun and The Commuter) is great as the grandiose King Orm, who follows an extreme direction but carries enough substance to back up his moments of madness. Yahya Abdul -Mateen II (The Get Down) as Black Manta, maybe more of a minor antagonist, he does provide a level of seriousness that this film needs at certain times. And despite being a minor character, I doubt we have seen the full scale of his character nor have we seen the last of him. William Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) as Vulko and Dolph Lundgren (Creed 2) as King Nereus are good and serve their purpose of being strong supporting characters. While Nichole Kidman (Boy Erased and The Upside) steals the show with every scene she’s in as her performance holds regality and love throughout. Even when she is not there, her presence can still be felt.

     Overall, Aquaman (2018) is an amazing piece of entertainment. With a great story, comedy, drama, action, stunning visuals, amazing CGI, and solid performance, there is no doubt that this is the film DCEU fans have been waiting for. I highly recommend you watch this in IMAX or IMAX 3D is possible because it only adds the immersive feel of the film as a whole. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

 “My father was a lighthouse keeper. My mother was a queen. But life has a way of bringing people together. They made me what I am.”
- Arthur Curry

Final Vote --- 9.8 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
The Flash (TBA)
Justice League Part 1 (2017)
 Justice League Part 2 (TBA)
Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel 2 (TBA)
Suicide Squad (2016)
Wonder Woman (2017)
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

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