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Review: Aquaman – “Shows that the DCEU isn’t dead just yet”

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The fact Aquaman exists is a miracle. Not just because of the debacle that is the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), but also because it’s final 30 mins is the most batshit crazy thing possibly ever committed to film. Certainly, the craziest thing to ever be attached to a major studio release.

At one point I put both hands on my head, in an “I can’t believe they just did that” type gesture. I am aware that’s a loaded comment.

You know the story – he talks to fish – but the main point of me scribbling this is to implore you to see it. Because as ridiculous as it all sounds, it works. It really does. The Indiana Jones adventure vibe they went for? It’s there. Like a level from Uncharted – jumping out of a plane, with no parachute.

If you’ve seen the trailers and can’t see yourself liking it – I’m not sure you ever will.

I’ve thought from the get-go that the film looked stunning and it truly does. I need to IMAX it, as there’s SO much going on. There’s a lot of Avatar, specifically Pandora – but there’s an awful lot of your favourite sci-fi, too. A bit of Blade Runner, here. A huge chunk of The Abyss, there. (Twice).

It’s incredible world building and, despite the homages, it feels totally unique. So many things we’ve always needed in our lives – but didn’t know it.

Let me count the ways….

A lot has been made of the fact that an Octopus plays the drums, in Aquaman. It’s a glimpse at the madness to come, that’s for sure. It’s a beautiful sight, but there’s so much more to this film.

It reaches for the heart of Man Of Steel, but falls short. Even with Nicole Kidman and Jango Fett aiming high. Kidman even does her fainting that she did so cartoonishly in Moulin Rouge. Everyone knows they’re making a film about a man that talks to fish. No doubt.

James Wan is a bit of a hero of mine. He’s proved he’s got the Midas touch here, as some of the camera movement is audacious.

The Sicily scene – which is cut differently to the five-minute “teaser”, is fantastic. The camera keeps moving, zipping, flipping, shaking – but only to add energy – and when we need the camera to cut back, to see the fighting, we get that. Let’s remember, Nolan got that wrong.

The Arthurian legend that wraps itself around Arthur’s story is excellent. As a fan of Excalibur, I’m waiting on a James Wan interview where he calls that out as a specific influence. There’s no need for a lady of the lake, here…..

What else will sell this to you?

How about Patrick Wilson? Back in the DC fold and with a compelling argument to join Zod as one of the most underrated bad guys in recent history.

How about the fact that Black Manta works, too.

How about the fact that the trench scene glimpsed in the trailer (red flare, monsters, deep dive) is genuinely shocking.

Come on. You know you want in. Still need more?

How about Aquaman galloping on a seahorse? Or Dolph Lundgren (again!) channelling that Ivan Drago accent? A cracking score – that channels Tron? No mention of any of the others, so if you really do hate them that much, you needn’t be put off?

Above all else, Aquaman shows that the DCEU isn’t dead just yet. Bruised? Battered? Sure. But when you have Keaton as Batman. The Nolan trilogy. The greatest superhero movie of all (‘Watchman: Director’s Cut’)… it’ll take more than Justice League to sink that ship.

Hey, if it sinks, Aquaman can just lift it right back up, again.

I’m going again tomorrow. China wasn’t wrong.

Stay until mid-credits. Many didn’t. And I didn’t get the impression that was because they hadn’t had fun. ❤️

It is a 5 if an Octopus playing the drums is your kind of thing!

Aquaman is in UK cinemas now and opens in the US on 21st December 2018.

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