Story, villain problems continue to plague the DCEU

7 of 8

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


My score (6/10) may not indicate this, but I did like Aquaman. It is another good step for the DCEU, as a very difficult character was delivered to the big screen.

The film works fine from the perspective of its narrative. And it interweaves how Aquaman (Jason Momoa) came to be, and his mission to become King of Atlantis.

The scenes are all good, and the quest to find the trident is clear and simple. And director James Wan shows that he has a steady hand when it comes to storytelling – all of that works.

But the end of the movie is just another CG battle between Aquaman and his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) for the crown of Atlantis. The third act is actually fairly short for the film (clocking in at around 18 minutes). Wan clearly understood that there was a monotony to watching what amounted to a lot of underwater fighting. It was cool to see, but it could feel repetitive.

Even the stakes don’t go worldwide in the film. Yes, Atlantis demonstrates that they can threaten the land with a massive tidal wave – that throws back all of the garbage and sewage created by the land dwellers. But the end of the film is only about Atlantis. The battle is still enormous because (let’s face it) the water represents two-thirds of this planet. But Wan does a decent job of making the story personal for Aquaman.

My biggest criticism of the film is that nothing about it stood out to me. The entire quest for the trident was fine, but none of the scenes spoke to me as a viewer. Maybe this will change with a second viewing?

After Wan’s two most recent horror films – The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2, which are excellent – I honestly expected a lot more from the narrative. Wan has a knack for making compelling drama. But with this film, it never feels like Aquaman is in any real danger of losing anything.

Having to reveal the main workings of the Aqua-family tree probably held this film back just a bit. If Wan returns for a sequel, he will have much more room to tell a better story – without the constraints of introducing so many concepts and characters.