Does DC's latest superhero outing sink or swim?

Aquaman was billed as DC finally building a superhero world away from their runaway success, Wonder Woman. To put it simply, it doesn’t.

By Jonathan Reed

Video supplied by Warner Bros/DC©

Thalassophobia is the irrational fear of the sea or a large body of water, and DC’s latest Superhero outing will do little to dampen the terror.

Say hello to Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the aquatic half-fish/half-human superbeing who we find downing his sorrows into another beer, instead of following his destiny to rule the waves. Seems familiar? No-one would blame you if it does. So much of Aquaman is a cliché that it becomes far too predictable.

Focusing on the failed relationship with his half/brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson) who is determined to declare war on humanity, Aquaman opens with an impressive 1st Act featuring an almighty Tsunami, one large enough to garner the attention of the human-race, you would think. Nope, not once throughout the entire film is this devastating ‘natural’ event referred to again, gone, forgotten.

The plot pushes on, leading Orm to attempt to unite the Kingdom of Atlantis to create an army large and strong enough to destroy humanity. But he could be stopped, if Arthur finds an object, to decipher a thing, in order to take the throne and stop the war! And as he literally is a ‘fish out of water’, his childhood friend Mera (Amber Heard) must help him succeed. Still following?

If you are, then go to the top of the class, because I sure wasn’t. And this is where Aquaman sadly fails.

It is far too busy, too over-complicated and consistently loses its way, and yet surprisingly predictable. The relationships between characters fall short of any real development and seem skin deep at best. As the plot diverges between the strange and bizarre, it almost seemed as if director, James Wan gave up trying to ensure the story makes any sense at all. A particular scene where the villain Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) detours to the North Sea is left unexplained and perpetuates the randomness on offer.

Though, what is Aquaman’s saving grace is the spectacular action, and from the director of the Fast and Furious series you wouldn’t expect anything less. The set pieces are epic and fully capture the majesty of Arthur’s Kingdom, Atlantis. The CGI is also dazzling, which is a relief considering the controversy around another DC Superhero film (Henry Cavill’s ‘mustache-gate’).

But whilst the visuals are impressive and in places leave you gasping for breath, sadly Aquaman just doesn’t fully connect.

What is truly disappointing is the obvious lack of trust in the film’s star. Whilst Momoa runs with the material, he never is given free reign to fully play with the script, resulting in Aquaman never fully feeling as if character and actor are on the same wavelength. However entertaining the rough charm and fun Momoa does bring, the overall result is a performance that could and should have been so much more.

Aquaman was billed as DC finally building a superhero world away from their runaway success, Wonder Woman. To put it simply, it doesn’t. Though what is a reprieve is the bare mention of Justice League, proving that hopefully DC will be stepping away from the disjointed DCEU for the time being. Whilst Aquaman isn’t a disaster and, thanks to the action, has limited entertainment, the promise of what could have been is deeply frustrating.

Unfortunately for DC, their Water-World adventure barely stays afloat, and even more so doesn’t ease those symptoms of Thalassophobia. If you were scared of the ocean before, Aquaman will not abate those fears.