Director: James Wan
Cast: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park
Runtime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Warner Bros
Official Website: https://www.aquaman.com.sg
Opening Day: 20 December 2023
Synopsis: Having failed to defeat Aquaman the first time, Black Manta, still driven by the need to avenge his father’s death, will stop at nothing to take Aquaman down once and for all. This time Black Manta is more formidable than ever before, wielding the power of the mythic Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient and malevolent force. To defeat him, Aquaman will turn to his imprisoned brother Orm, the former King of Atlantis, to forge an unlikely alliance. Together, they must set aside their differences in order to protect their kingdom and save Aquaman’s family, and the world, from irreversible destruction.
How do we even start talking about the DC Extended Universe? The grand plans to bring together various DC Comics superheroes have met several roadblocks along the way, and the biggest surprise came in 2022 with the restructuring of DC Studios and the appointment of James Gunn and Peter Safran. It was announced that this sequel to James Wan’s Aquaman (2018) will conclude the universe on 22 December 2023, and a reboot of the franchise will follow. This piece of news definitely hurt the box office of several titles like Black Adam (2022), Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), The Flash (2023) and Blue Beetle (2023). It feels like a business venture gone wrong.
But let it be known that Wan’s superhero flick that introduced Jason Momoa as Aquaman to audiences worldwide is the highest grossing DCEU movie, the highest grossing film based on a DC Comics character and the 20th highest grossing film of all time. Maybe this is a comforting sign for the sequel that will end an era.
Wan returns together with the ensemble cast as Momoa’s Arthur Curry aka Aquaman adjusts to life as the King of Atlantis. The responsibilities don’t stop at having boring (but important) political meetings and battling sea monsters – the half Atlantean and half human is now a father, which means he has to spend time taking care of a baby. Trouble arises when David Kane aka Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) returns and is hell bent on seeking revenge on Arthur. And presto, the world is in danger and it is up to Aquaman to save the day with other returning characters like Orm Marius (Patrick Wilson), Mera (Amber Heard), Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and Nereus (Dolph Lundgren).
If you remember, Arthur killed David’s father in the first movie. But does that really matter? Not really, because this 124 minute does not require you to focus too much on backstories and connected universes. It almost feels like Wan’s focus is making sure everyone has fun making the movie.
There’s Momoa just being himself, and the result is a DC superhero oozing with gruff charisma – you’d want to have beer with the man at a bar. This time, the movie pairs him up with Wilson’s uptight Orm (you just need to know that Orm is Aquaman’s brother who was a defeated antagonist in the first movie) and the two men go on what feels like a buddy adventure, complete with bickering and bantering along the way.
Abdul-Mateen’s on screen presence as the bad guy works, and the cold stare in his eyes makes you believe he is out for world destruction. There’s also Randall Park’s Dr Stephen Shin, who finds himself in a tight situation in this movie. The rest of the cast don’t have much to do, but they look happy just to go along for the ride. Given the negative surrounding Heard, we are surprised with the amount of screen time she has.
Above all, the movie is a CGI fest for Wan to create wondrous underwater worlds with outrageously colourful creatures. There is much to feast your eyes on (especially if you are watching this on an IMAX screen), and you would forget the fact that this movie is part of a media franchise that has faced one struggle after another.
(Disregard the DCEU's troubled history and enjoy this fun and stress-free superhero flick that banks on Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson's chemistry)
Review by John Li