While comic book movies are almost always a guaranteed money maker, it’s quite a shock to many that one of the highest grossing comic book movies of all time is a movie about Aquaman. After spending decades being a basic punch line for all of pop culture, Aquaman swoops in and basically has changed the course of how we think of the character and DC’s Comic book movies. All it took was a skilled director like James Wan, and the undeniable charisma of Jason Momoa.
Local Islander Arthur Curry begins to realize his destiny when he learns from his father that he is descended from royalty from the kingdom of Atlantis. With his half brother Orm preparing to wage war on the surface world, Arthur is called upon to find the mythical trident of Atlantis and reclaim his rightful place on the throne as king of Atlantis. But that will prove to be tougher than he realizes as Orm plans to stop him, with his army, and the help of a vicious, vengeful pirate named Black Manta.
James Wan does a wonderful job bringing Aquaman’s universe to the big screen with a movie that embraces everything that’s appealing about his world. “Aquaman” works because Wan seems to understand that much of what’s so exciting about Aquaman is the fantasy and whimsy. He dives in head first with breakneck pacing, excellent action sequences, and just enough tongue in cheek humor to keep the aesthetic vibrant, all the while offering up his own flourishes that set “Aquaman” apart from the other superhero movies. Jason Momoa’s starring turn as Aquaman is often exciting as he seems to be having a great time as the character, playing him as a budding hero torn between both of the worlds he belongs to.
James Wan gathers a bang up supporting cast, including Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Patrick Wilson, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, as the menacing Black Manta. “Aquaman” completely re-molds Aquaman for a new generation and sets the path for a new, better era of DC live action films.
The new release from Warner is bereft of audio commentary from James Wan, sadly. The Blu-Ray release comes with a DVD copy and a Digital Copy. The supplements include “Becoming Aquaman,” a thirteen minute segment focusing on the casting of Jason Momoa, his early thoughts on the role, his rehearsals with the swimming rig, and much more. “Going Deep Into the World of Aquaman” is a nineteen minute chronological look at the making of the movie from pre-production, the time consuming use of rigs to simulate underwater movement, use of bluescreen, set design, and the creation of Aquaman’s armor. “James Wan: World Builder” is an eight minute look at the director’s unique approach designing the film’s undersea world, the massive amount of visual effects, and the look at the almost one thousand digital shots of animated hair to simulate underwater movement.
“The Dark Depths of Black Manta” is a seventeen minute discussion with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who discusses his villainous role and the character’s origins, motivation, and unique tech. “Heroines of Atlantis” is a six minute discussion with Amber Heart and Nicole Kidman who discuss their characters and their attraction to them. “Villainous Training” is a six minute look at Patrick Wilson bulking himself up to play opposite Jason Momoa, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II enduring fighting training. “A Match Made in Atlantis” is a three minute sit-down with Momoa and Heard who discuss their enjoyment working together, as well as some outtakes with their scenes together. “Atlantis Warfare” is a five minute exploration of the design of the Atlantean weaponry in the digital and physical form.
“Creating Undersea Creatures” is a seven minute look at the various underwater creatures in the film and how Wan embraced a lot of what made Aquaman so campy by twisting them to look cool. “Aqua-Tech” is a six minute look at the swimming rigs and technologies used for the underwater world. “Scene Study Breakdowns” is a trio of short behind the scenes vignettes exploring three key scenes in the film, including “The Trench” where Wan was able to invoke his classic horror background for a moment. Finally, there’s “Kingdom of the Seven Seas” a seven minute talk with Dolph Lundgren who takes us through a tour of the kingdoms of Atlantis, and teases a sequel. As an added bonus, there’s an exclusive three minute sneak peak at the upcoming “Shazam!” the next blockbuster from DC and Warner Bros.