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: 90704%
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: Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by... [More]
Directed By: James Wan

Tag Cloud

Teen WGN FX on Hulu HBO Go Warner Bros. Star Wars 93rd Oscars Music tv talk psycho composers twilight Tarantino Best Actress Legendary remakes thriller Video Games reviews football prank Hollywood Foreign Press Association Baby Yoda Country basketball VOD Sundance TV children's TV game show New York Comic Con Best Actor spanish language Pride Month TCA Focus Features Christmas period drama Fargo harry potter australia robots universal monsters Podcast summer preview Masterpiece 2019 APB werewolf vampires Nickelodeon dogs Fox News Superheroe MGM Pop TV Lucasfilm comic Starz Toys National Geographic Set visit 71st Emmy Awards First Look Freeform TCA 2017 American Society of Cinematographers The Walking Dead Image Comics crime thriller Hulu Tumblr DirecTV Mindy Kaling Marvel cults 2017 2015 BBC book latino SDCC The Walt Disney Company YouTube Red rt labs critics edition BBC One golden globes Showtime Mary poppins technology Disney ESPN Cosplay The Academy A&E Universal television YouTube Premium slasher chucky streaming 2021 anime olympics Travel Channel BBC America Adult Swim miniseries what to watch Amazon Prime Video The Purge kids Comedy Food Network summer TV streaming movies IMDb TV Rocketman 79th Golden Globes Awards Sundance Now archives The Witch toronto hollywood Creative Arts Emmys award winner festivals TNT Lionsgate psychological thriller Paramount Network best deadpool Pop dark Comic Book child's play zero dark thirty live action emmy awards 2020 Photos halloween Elton John Summer Turner rt labs justice league hist know your critic Captain marvel blaxploitation crime drama posters CMT die hard crime Dark Horse Comics cops Winners genre Box Office sequels italian Broadway FX worst adenture high school Opinion godzilla cancelled television AMC Plus political drama MTV aapi serial killer Esquire hispanic marvel comics Netflix james bond ViacomCBS Walt Disney Pictures screen actors guild fast and furious telelvision GLAAD Sony Pictures History MCU Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt jurassic park Disney+ Disney Plus spain parents comic book movie blockbuster 99% razzies cooking witnail pirates of the caribbean 73rd Emmy Awards NBC Kids & Family Mary Tyler Moore DC Comics USA Awards Classic Film sitcom dramedy Fall TV AMC MSNBC Pacific Islander Paramount Pictures Nat Geo Epix Marvel Television 2016 anthology politics Prime Video summer TV preview scary movies halloween tv Animation Hear Us Out Neflix casting CW Seed Women's History Month streamig Rocky king arthur elevated horror Character Guide unscripted Disney Channel OWN mutant spinoff criterion stand-up comedy video venice Winter TV Martial Arts obi wan 72 Emmy Awards Stephen King South by Southwest Film Festival Horror 90s TV Land travel TV One marvel cinematic universe USA Network Quiz blockbusters Black Mirror Hallmark Christmas movies international stop motion Emmys gangster Chilling Adventures of Sabrina YA Spring TV Biopics Nominations IFC Films target comiccon police drama Funimation docuseries binge Valentine's Day DC Universe natural history Amazon Prime Wes Anderson Chernobyl aliens Oscars Apple TV+ slashers HBO Schedule social media satire CNN screenings Trailer kong Extras art house zombie classics mockumentary historical drama green book Film Tokyo Olympics south america SundanceTV Best and Worst nature See It Skip It heist movie strong female leads Superheroes versus Shondaland PBS Cartoon Network singing competition Tubi Tags: Comedy Holidays Hallmark cancelled TV shows Endgame space Star Trek Watching Series Spike asian-american cartoon video on demand monster movies black Sundance TV Peacock saw scorecard 94th Oscars breaking bad Rom-Com sag awards GIFs dc Academy Awards biography 20th Century Fox golden globe awards science fiction films renewed TV shows Family TLC Lifetime fresh docudrama WarnerMedia Rock new zealand Spectrum Originals debate Arrowverse french trophy Television Critics Association a nightmare on elm street based on movie Premiere Dates Certified Fresh reboot Disney streaming service DC streaming service Fantasy Musical Writers Guild of America japan 2018 HFPA San Diego Comic-Con Calendar Mary Poppins Returns finale hispanic heritage month cinemax documentaries Vudu SXSW 2022 NBA E! obituary BET Awards First Reviews legend TCA Awards superman TCA Winter 2020 HBO Max TV movies Britbox concert Crackle Election CBS Cannes popular TBS Shudder Trophy Talk Brie Larson Pet Sematary Marvel Studios jamie lee curtis true crime boxoffice A24 Film Festival Infographic Turner Classic Movies canceled TV shows Oscar Pirates LGBTQ Amazon Studios Crunchyroll free movies king kong action-comedy Columbia Pictures 007 Reality superhero Ellie Kemper canceled spider-man El Rey news joker Mudbound cancelled TV series LGBT ratings laika NYCC X-Men batman VICE Comics on TV dexter franchise scary cats Super Bowl nfl lord of the rings Drama rt archives Instagram Live Logo all-time Amazon Year in Review comedies Bravo animated diversity VH1 hidden camera Grammys movies Apple adventure spider-verse ghosts BAFTA mcc Netflix Christmas movies spanish Lifetime Christmas movies women Thanksgiving Disney Plus transformers ITV critics The CW richard e. Grant Musicals stoner Binge Guide game of thrones Action Mystery Best Picture Paramount theme song Fox Searchlight YouTube PaleyFest cars mission: impossible worst movies Song of Ice and Fire dceu Discovery Channel nbcuniversal toy story kaiju suspense Avengers Anna Paquin zombies Alien RT21 OneApp FOX Marathons rom-coms Pixar book adaptation disaster black comedy Tomatazos mob young adult cancelled crossover documentary Syfy SXSW festival independent sequel romantic comedy new york ABC Family Awards Tour Polls and Games TV renewals Interview Western indie directors series teaser biopic revenge President CBS All Access discovery TruTV royal family GoT war christmas movies sports Comic-Con@Home 2021 adaptation DGA comic books 45 indiana jones dragons japanese romance rotten live event dreamworks Apple TV Plus spy thriller FXX ABC 1990s 24 frames Trivia 21st Century Fox comic book movies Sci-Fi new star wars movies boxing Sneak Peek The Arrangement Exclusive Video 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards PlayStation wonder woman comics medical drama TIFF quibi doctor who Emmy Nominations vs. IFC talk show TCM Ovation Universal Pictures Red Carpet movie E3 Countdown critic resources Heroines feel good Ghostbusters ID Best Director ABC Signature Black History Month foreign Comedy Central trailers Television Academy leaderboard 4/20 supernatural Reality Competition sopranos broadcast name the review BET RT History Acorn TV rotten movies we love Paramount Plus Holiday scene in color facebook