DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. are finally getting into the 2018 super hero movie race with Aquaman, which will hit theaters just before Christmas. The official Aquaman review embargo is now up as the film starts screening with critics around the country, and reviews are pouring online.
As with any film in the DC Extended Universe franchise, the reviews of Aquaman could be potentially divisive, if not incendiary. So what are critics saying? Find out below!
Visually Stunning Win for DC
Our very own Comicbook.com Aquaman review from Brandon Davis says Aquaman's spectacular design outweigh any flaws:
"Heavy exposition crowds Aquaman through much of its first half. Awkwardly nuanced attempts at somewhat cartoon-ish humor are also present, making some of the water here a little unclear.... However, each of Aquaman's flaws, are complimented by brilliant action-sequences, stylish swagger, and an epic, massive adventure, like the character himself."
Entertainment Weekly thinks Aquaman is too cartoonishly comic book for its own good:
"There was never a question that at this stage in Hollywood’s comic-book economy that every superhero would eventually get his or her own standalone blockbuster. Even Aquaman. But Wan, a director who’s proven himself to be a can’t-miss ace regardless of genre (from the horror formulas of The Conjuring and Insidious to the big-budget tentpole mayhem of Furious 7) seems to finally be out of his depth."
Seen This One Before
USA Today seems bewildered that the first movie about an underwater superhero often feels so cliche - but they also say it shines bright when it does do something original:
"Even with its flaws and struggles with originality, "Aquaman” is reminiscent of the early Marvel movies in its storytelling, best when taking wild swings instead of being an earnest superhero jam."
Worth the Payoff
Variety says there's a lot of heavy origin and world-building to get through - but the finale is worth the struggles of the journey:
"...The film also saves a series of satisfying surprises for the climactic stretch, thrilling audiences before they leave the theater. For anyone shelling out full price for a movie ticket, this is surely the payoff they’ve been anticipating — all the more spectacular in Imax, for which nearly all the phospholuminescent ocean footage has been custom formatted. It’s an interesting inversion of the usual superhero movie formula to find a director investing most of his creative energy into the ending, rather than the origin-story stretch up front — a luxury afforded by the fact Aquaman was introduced in “Justice League” a year earlier."
A Star Is Born
THR credits the stars of Aquaman for managing ot prop up all the over-produced comic book pulp:
"There is scarcely a scene in Aquaman that couldn't have benefited from the fun sense of wit and surprise that Momoa delivers more or less on his own. Kidman supplies short-lived warmth and gravitas as Aquaman's mum, while Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has a side role as a vengeance-minded fighter. Technically, the film is everything its fan base wants and expects, and the underwater setting imparts a sometimes enchanted feel that at least distinguishes it from most other superhero epics. Rupert Gregson-Williams' efficient score seems to almost never let up."
For the Children
Business Insider points out that Aquaman is such a pulpy comic book world that it almost works better as a kids film. After the Zack Snyder era of the DCEU, Warner Bros. is probably happy to hear that:
"In many ways, I wish it weren't PG-13, because younger kids would love it: talking giant crabs, an octopus playing drums, sharks armed with lazer beams, and so on... It's so big and goofy at one point I honestly felt like I was watching a stylized "Power Rangers" episode... But the movie is such a good time it's easy to let all of that pass. And I look forward to the next Aquaman adventure."
Brightest Day DCEU
US Magazine says that, if nothing else, Aquaman is definitely a franchise heel-turn from the dark and drab era of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. For a lot of moviegoers, that just might be enough - even if this particular critic hates it:
"The best I can say about Aquaman — and this is a big compliment — is that it’s first live-action D.C. Comics movie in which a superhero actually appears to be having fun. Batman, Superman, the Suicide Squad, even our beloved Wonder Woman tend to behave as if they just lost their 401(k) savings during the apocalypse. Momoa’s Aquaman is loose and laid-back and good times. Excited audiences all over the world are already hooked by this elusive attribute. I’d rather throw it back in the ocean."
All in all, it seems that Aquaman will be about as mixed in its critical reactions as any DCEU film - but this time, the "fun factor" could be its saving grace.
Upcoming DC Extended Universe films include Aquaman on December 21st, Shazam on April 5, 2019, and Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019.