Once a sort-of superhero punch line, Aquaman has morphed into the saviour of DC films. First introduced in Batman vs. Superman and taking a supporting role in Justice League, the hero is now given his own film, one that is equal parts deliriously bonkers and dumb fun.
Refreshingly skipping (mostly) the origin story route, the film chronicles Arthur Curry, already dubbed Aquaman, as he travels to his home of Atlantis on a journey to take his place as heir to kingdom and prevent his half-brother from bringing a furious vengeance against surface-dwellers.
From the moment he makes his entrance on a hijacked submarine ("permission to come aboard?") Jason Momoa makes an endearing superhero. What Momoa lacks in range he makes up for in charm and the kind of goofy grin that tells you he's in on the joke. The film surrounds him with performers of gravitas (Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe) and seasoned genre stars (Patrick Wilson and Dolph Lundgren). The star that breaks through, alongside Momoa, is Amber Heard who emerges as a secondary driver of the narrative. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II also makes a fun additional villain, even if his appearances feel too fleeting.
Aquaman is a mesh of films, borrowing from the likes of Flash Gordon, Star Wars, Thor and several other fantasy epics to craft a thoroughly enjoyable bite of popcorn cinema. At times there is a bloat to the film, a need to fling EVERYTHING at the screen. But for the most part this lands, producing an action romp that manages to remain sprightly as it runs from set piece to set piece. The script clunks and has huge wedges of exposition to get through but James Wan (whose diverse career has included the likes of Saw, The Conjuring and Furious 7) surrounds it with enough strikingly gorgeous visuals and frenetic, invigorating action sequences that it never weighs the film down too much. You'll know early on if you are going to be susceptible to Aquaman's charms and my advice is to just go with the film and let the bright visuals wash over you.
Often ridiculous, yet charmingly so, Aquaman is an enjoyable, bonkers trip to the cinema. The sight of god-like Atlantians riding various sea creatures into battle is one worth checking out. This is a film that would collapse if you pulled any number of the threads hanging off of it. But why would you ruin the fun! With a charismatic leading duo in Momoa and Heard, surrounded by enough sparkling silliness, Aquaman is the perfect antidote to the winter blues.