Aquaman review by Susan Granger (Member of New York Film Critics Online, Alliance of Women Film Journalists) -

Since comic-book movies are currently the biggest box-office draw, Warner Bros. adds this epic origin-story to its DC Justice League.

On the coast of Maine in 1985, a lonely lighthouse keeper, Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison), finds wounded aquatic warrior Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) washed up on the beach; she’s fleeing from an arranged marriage. Before long, they fall deeply in love and have an inter-species son.

A few years later, Atlanna realizes that both her husband and beloved son are in mortal danger unless she returns to Atlantis, but she promises them both to return – someday – if she isn’t killed in the Trench.

Meanwhile, under the relentless tutelage of Grand Vizier Vulko (Willem Dafoe), thickly-bearded, heavily tattooed Arthur (Jason Momoa) grows up to be a world-famous man-fish, who can breathe underwater and singlehandedly rescue nuclear submariners from marauding pirates.

Until one day, Princess Mera (Amber Heard) appears. She’s betrothed to Arthur’s younger half-brother, maniacal King Orm (Patrick Wilson), who wants to become Sea Master, conquering not only the submerged realms but also surface dwellers. Only Aquaman can defeat him and restore peace to the underwater universe.

Based on the DC Comics hero created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger in 1941, the zany script was written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall.

Director James Wan (“Saw,” “Insidious,” “The Conjuring”) hits a multitude of shallow plot points but he seems most besotted with spectacular CGI set pieces, including a fantastical one in which Orm’s ominous army rides armored sharks and another in which a giant octopus plays the drums.

Whirling Aquaman’s fabled trident, perfectly cast Jason Momoa is the 6’5”-tall Hawaiian-born actor best known as Khal Drogo, the formidable Dothraki on TV’s “Game of Thrones,” and the 2011 remake of “Conan the Barbarian.” Shirtless, he’s awe-inspiring.

It’s unfortunate that Mera’s red wig looks borrowed from Disney’s Ariel mermaid and Orm bears a startling resemblance to Harry Potter’s nefarious nemesis, Draco Malfoy.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Aquaman” swims in with a visually stunning 6, exciting underwater lore.

Director : James Wan
Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Dolph Lundgren, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe

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