News

Aquaman First Reviews: The DCEU Gets Its Second Fresh Film... At Least For Now

Early reviews for James Wan's origin story for the Justice League's Atlanean hero say it's an unapologetically over-the-top spectacle with a perfectly cast Jason Momoa.

by | December 11, 2018 | Comments

DC movies continue to turn the tide with the release of Aquaman, the first solo feature for the maritime member of the Justice League. While it won’t be brandishing as high a Tomatometer score as Wonder Woman, reviews for the James Wan-helmed superhero adventure are mostly positive out of the gate. Aquaman certainly sounds ridiculous, even from the raves, as this is a whole lot of movie (and maybe more). If you just take in the ambitious spectacle and enjoy Jason Momoa’s swagger, you’re in for a wild treat, my man.

Here’s what the critics are saying about Aquaman:


Is it actually any good?

If you’ve ever wondered what pure joy looks like on screen, look no further than the latest film in the DC Universe.
Germain Lussier, io9

It’s a film for everyone.
Catalina Combs, Black Girl Nerds

It’s kind of a shock that it doesn’t suck.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Were it not for Black Panther and Into the Spider-VerseAquaman would easily clinch the title for best superhero movie of the year.
Karen Han, Polygon

It’s a weird and wonderful superhero adventure that strives — and almost succeeds — to be the most epic superhero movie ever made.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap


What about its place in the DC Universe?

This is the movie Green Lantern was too reluctant to be. It’s the most unabashedly DC Comics-embracing movie in the current shared universe.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN

Aquaman seems too afraid of falling into the much derided gravity of Snyder’s [DC movies], and does not have the courage to take any of its stakes seriously.
Elena Lazic, Little White Lies

As with much about the DC universe, the whole thing is hobbled by carelessness.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire


Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

And when compared to Marvel?

Comes closest to nailing that particular brand of self-aware humor and save-the-world earnestness that has been working so well over at Marvel.
Anne Cohen, Refinery29

When it gets trippy, it floats within hailing distance of Doctor Strange.
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

Change a few names and locations in the plot synopsis, and Aquaman could have been a Thor reboot.
– Eric Kohn, IndieWire


How crazy is it?

Wan’s Aquaman is pulp, through and through, and it’s as broad and outlandish as you could possibly hope for.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap

It’s bonkers. It’s bananas. It doesn’t always work but when it does, oh wow is it fun.
– Germain Lussier, io9

Its unapologetic ridiculousness is exactly why it’s so delightful, bucking so many of the rules set for the genre in the last decade.
Karen Han, Polygon

There’s always some form of insane nonsense on the screen to keep you bewildered and entertained so you don’t really have the time or energy to focus on its more underwhelming aspects.
– Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation.com


Does it go overboard?

Wan’s film pushes too far sometimes, but that’s because it’s pushing as hard as it can.
William Bibbiani, The Wrap

What seems like fifteen different subgenres are crammed into a submarine ready to burst…no scene ever contemplates the phrase ‘too much.’
Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

Instead of making one Aquaman movie, Wan has made three or four, spinning the wheel and changing modes whenever one idea dries up.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

It’s as if someone told Wan and team that Aquaman would be the title character’s one and only shot at a solo movie, and they made sure to go for broke.
Alex Abad-Santos, Vox

This is a movie that wants to kill you with sensory overload. (It may have even succeeded. I’m fairly sure I am writing this as a ghost. Boo.)
Mike Ryan, Uproxx


Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

How does Aquaman look?

The production designers have outdone themselves here imagining an elaborate other world beneath the ocean’s surface.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Dubbing Aquaman one of the year’s most accomplished visual achievements is no hyperbole… Atlantis’ sunken megacity stuns on par with Black Panther‘s unveiling of Wakanda.
Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

Aquaman’s greatest strength is its visual style. Even when it borders on bioluminescent whimsy, it’s so distinctly and ceaselessly its own.
Alex Abad-Santos, Vox

Aquaman’s visuals are less Jungle Book photo-realism, more Lisa Frank razzle-dazzle.
Angie Han, Mashable


Does it deliver on the action?

Imagine if someone cut together all the biggest action sequences from the last few decades of Hollywood.
Helen O’Hara, Empire Magazine

There are moments when the action is just so wildly absurd that you can’t help but just stare at the screen in awe of Wan’s audacity.
Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation.com

The majority of the time the action set pieces seem quite arbitrary… this saddles the overlong film with a ponderous, grinding feel.
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

It’s confusing but not quite incoherent.
Peter Debruge, Variety


Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

How is Jason Momoa?

What a perfectly cast superhero…take away Momoa’s steady presence, and you’re looking at an overstuffed mess.
Mara Reinstein, US Weekly

Aquaman hinges on Momoa’s natural swarthy charisma and charm, and Wan’s willingness to let those things shine makes the movie enjoyable.
Alex Abad-Santos, Vox

This movie doesn’t work without Jason Momoa.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx

He leans into the absurdity of his appearance. He knows he’s ripped and superhuman, so why pretend otherwise? But none of that really qualifies as acting.
Anne Cohen, Refinery29


Do the other characters shine?

Watching Kidman kick ass for a few minutes makes a good enough case for an Atlanna standalone movie.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Heard sleepwalks through her part and has zero chemistry with Momoa.
Mara Reinstein, US Weekly

[Heard] fails to really connect, and big part of that is just how indifferent the script for Aquaman is towards its women characters – of which there are only two.
Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation.com

If there’s one thing to like about Aquaman, it’s that the film allows women such as Mera and Atlanna to kick some ass.
Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Dolph Lundgren brings a gruff gravitas to his supporting role…Between this and Creed II, we are in the midst of a Lundgrenaissance – and I’m totally fine with that.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN


Warner Bros. Pictures

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

How are the villains?

I love Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta.
– Mike Ryan, Uproxx

Abdul-Mateen II brings a ferociousness and intensity that works for that character’s specific arc, but feels out of place as it only matches some of the tones that Aquaman is juggling.
Spencer Perry, ComingSoon.net

Black Manta starts out strong but feels increasingly superfluous… Meanwhile, Orm feels curiously underdeveloped — it’s only Wilson’s performance that keeps him from being a total snooze.
Angie Han, Mashable

Black Manta could have been saved for the sequel and this movie wouldn’t have suffered for it.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN


So we should look forward to more Aquaman?

If it stays in the water a bit too long — well, I’d still come back for a sequel.
Angie Han, Mashable

An Aquaman sequel is reportedly in the works.The filmmakers just need to find the heart of their ocean.
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post


Aquaman opens everywhere on December 21.

#1

Aquaman (2018)
65%

#1
Adjusted Score: 82.592%
Critics Consensus: Aquaman swims with its entertainingly ludicrous tide, offering up CGI superhero spectacle that delivers energetic action with an emphasis on good old-fashioned fun.
Synopsis: From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

Tag Cloud

nfl Awards justice league Marvel Television Mary Poppins Returns Watching Series a nightmare on elm street reviews VH1 sag awards Heroines Masterpiece Columbia Pictures tv talk DC Comics E3 medical drama Tomatazos TV Mindy Kaling Baby Yoda classics The Arrangement Ghostbusters TCA Winter 2020 green book period drama A24 streaming Fox News mutant VICE Disney+ Disney Plus sequel crime HBO FX on Hulu WarnerMedia Super Bowl Amazon Prime quibi Showtime toy story spinoff Women's History Month ESPN Western TCA zombie Fall TV ratings CW Seed binge fast and furious TV Land E! rotten movies we love Shudder Vudu Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Cosplay HBO Max worst Cartoon Network festival halloween tv Chernobyl spider-man Turner Classic Movies diversity Winners Mary Tyler Moore First Look spain Hallmark Christmas movies cinemax Christmas Acorn TV Holiday The Purge Holidays cats toronto Crackle Action stand-up comedy Syfy ID TCA 2017 Walt Disney Pictures Tumblr films Music FXX Mudbound documentary Television Critics Association asian-american football American Society of Cinematographers 45 Opinion book obituary Pop Sneak Peek police drama YouTube VOD Sundance TV Rocky remakes doctor who psycho ITV italian Amazon Prime Video dogs Travel Channel hispanic sports concert historical drama strong female leads Hallmark Pride Month IFC crossover critics Crunchyroll Premiere Dates Turner Epix BBC Logo 24 frames Pop TV Alien Emmy Nominations romantic comedy franchise 007 TV renewals 71st Emmy Awards Star Wars festivals cancelled technology Disney Channel YA laika children's TV ABC Family Reality 2020 revenge Comedy stoner Podcast twilight Calendar FX versus Disney Apple TV+ BAFTA video Kids & Family BET Awards Amazon DC streaming service worst movies Paramount RT History Creative Arts Emmys blaxploitation halloween directors Certified Fresh based on movie indiana jones biography PaleyFest Song of Ice and Fire Bravo WGN hollywood indie Interview dark Freeform comic books richard e. Grant BBC America Lifetime Nominations Spectrum Originals rotten Family chucky crime thriller elevated horror Marvel Lucasfilm singing competition Trophy Talk politics Netflix Christmas movies AMC Spring TV Comedy Central thriller Film Festival anime cartoon kids CBS All Access Endgame OWN free movies DirecTV CBS CMT mockumentary video on demand boxing A&E RT21 screen actors guild Arrowverse serial killer comics dragons Oscars PBS Comic Book christmas movies aliens Lifetime Christmas movies Shondaland YouTube Red teaser 2019 transformers Nickelodeon BET cancelled TV shows what to watch National Geographic Winter TV Animation best south america Teen Disney Plus disaster Lionsgate PlayStation 72 Emmy Awards Avengers Awards Tour Reality Competition satire SDCC Set visit Character Guide APB latino Sundance Best and Worst Year in Review mission: impossible Mystery Pet Sematary golden globes BBC One Rocketman Hear Us Out Star Trek Discovery Channel japanese Disney streaming service Anna Paquin dceu HBO Go Pirates Ellie Kemper werewolf child's play zombies TIFF james bond DC Universe LGBT 2016 nbcuniversal YouTube Premium casting canceled Film Dark Horse Comics rt archives 2015 deadpool black crime drama french spy thriller See It Skip It Mary poppins theme song Sony Pictures TruTV X-Men The Witch 99% Academy Awards Extras Classic Film boxoffice 2017 universal monsters sequels The Walking Dead The Academy 20th Century Fox Esquire Red Carpet name the review canceled TV shows New York Comic Con Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Trailer Pixar Writers Guild of America TBS cars Photos political drama docudrama USA Network TLC Brie Larson nature IFC Films DGA Musical slashers superhero war Ovation GLAAD Trivia Universal cops psychological thriller space Superheroe Rom-Com renewed TV shows Schedule Captain marvel Adult Swim breaking bad movies science fiction die hard Fox Searchlight supernatural comedies Warner Bros. Marvel Studios Countdown Nat Geo Biopics movie reboot unscripted Box Office Thanksgiving Marathons The CW batman jamie lee curtis 21st Century Fox Video Games harry potter venice zero dark thirty cooking Black Mirror sitcom screenings Emmys facebook CNN Amazon Studios Rock finale all-time discovery scorecard ghosts Horror Black History Month dramedy Summer archives History NBC Grammys NYCC Toys TNT foreign President Election parents MTV Netflix First Reviews spanish language australia SXSW series 4/20 TCM MSNBC LGBTQ Starz Binge Guide Valentine's Day television GIFs cancelled TV series Peacock Infographic Musicals Tubi award winner talk show social media dc Quiz adventure Funimation true crime hist Fantasy Britbox MCU anthology Comics on TV Elton John animated stop motion 2018 cults robots Superheroes Sci-Fi Stephen King game of thrones Food Network romance Tarantino El Rey OneApp travel criterion SundanceTV natural history Polls and Games Apple TV Plus comiccon miniseries game show Country documentaries Paramount Network Cannes USA independent San Diego Comic-Con adaptation Spike vampires Apple scary movies Hulu Sundance Now GoT comic Drama blockbuster FOX spanish fresh witnail Television Academy Martial Arts ABC cancelled television composers news emmy awards TCA Awards joker