FILM UNFILTERED – ‘Aquaman’ is a breath of fresh air from DC

FILM UNFILTERED – ‘Aquaman’ is a breath of fresh air from DC

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Zack Snyder has been responsible for many of the DC Films and may be considered its godfather, but hasn’t been without fan complaints. The dark, brooding, gloomy and dreary visuals he has fostered have left some DC loyalists and fans disappointed in the cinematic side of their comic book heroes.

However, this new entry into the DC Universe has taken its cues perhaps from the immensely successful “Wonder Woman” helmed by Patty Jenkins, and is an absolute breath of fresh air.

“Aquaman” is a superb origin story for a character who has often been shoved aside as a secondary or even a tertiary player among his roster of heroes. As the film opens, we learn his human father was a lighthouse keeper, played by Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett in “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones,” and saved his mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) when she washed up on the rocky Maine coastline in 1985.

After establishing his history, the film jumps forward in time to present day finding Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) thwarting an attack on a Russian sub by pirates led by Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Manta forges a deal with Aquaman’s half brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) to attempt to take him down.

“Aquaman” is an exciting film and has some aspects of “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.” There’s a lot of globe-trotting going on with a Sicily showdown, a Gladiator-like battle between brothers under the sea.

Amber Heard’s Mera is a gutsy heroine with an insufferably awful red wig, but cool water powers. Momoa’s Arthur is a gung-ho and happy guy who’s not interested in Atlantis and prefers to solve his problems with his anger and fists, whether in ocean or on land. But he is destined to be as powerful as the god Poseidon.

Willem Dafoe is great as Vulko, playing both sides in this dispute between brothers.

Nicole Kidman has had a huge year, between this and “The Upside.” Here she plays Arthur’s mom. DC has developed a knack for using mothers as the basis for the male hero’s angst. Dolph Lundgren who just had a great turn reprising his Ivan Drago character in “Creed II” shows up here as King Nereus.

Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is by far the most charismatic of the DC film characters yet introduced, with perhaps an equal nod going to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. He brings a wit, charm and wisecracking demeanor to what feels like a very meaty role, but he brushes it all off with an I don’t care attitude. Arthur is not nearly as damaged as Batman nor as dull as Superman. He’s not dark or dreary, Arthur simply wants to shun his destiny and do his own thing on his own terms, especially if there’s drinking involved

James Wan has crafted a hero perhaps even more aspiring than has yet been brought forth in the DC Universe. “Aquaman” is light and airy and isn’t bogged down by overbearing bad guys out for world domination. The bad guys here just want revenge and that keeps it personal and contained. I think DC may finally be learning from Marvel what it’s been getting wrong. “Aquaman” is a fun film that will have you rooting for this rough and tumble reluctant hero.

The film is rated PG-13.

Jason Momoa stars as the reluctant hero in DC Films’ “Aquaman.”