McCoy on Movies: Aquaman

McCoy on Movies: Aquaman

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Jason Momoa brings credibility and fun to D.C. Comics longstanding fish-out-of-water hero. But is it worth seeing in the theaters? Our movie critic shares his thoughts.


“My Crossfit instructor is going to be so proud!” Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) makes his way through a sea (pun intended) of would-be submarine pirates in a scene from director James Wan’s take on the D.C. Comics iconic character best known to fans as AQUAMAN. Credit: Jasin Boland/ ™ & © DC Comics.  © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment. All rights reserved.



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Temuera Morrison, Willem Dafoe, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dolph Lundgren with Nicole Kidman, Graham McTavish, Michael Beach and Randall Park

DIRECTOR(S): James Wan

THE BACK STORY: Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) was born of parents never meant to meet. For his mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) escaped the underwater kingdom of Atlantis to forgo an arranged marriage, which is why she fell in love with Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) and gave birth to a young son. But since she knew the only way to keep him safe was to eventually return, she left young Arthur in Tom’s care, her young child never getting to know the mother he so desperately wished to be able to do. That’s why she made sure to charge Vulko (Willem Dafoe) with raising him in her place, teaching young Arthur the ways of Atlantis to make sure he knows part of where he came from.

Problem is, while Arthur may never meet his mother, he will meet Prince turned King Orm (Patrick Wilson), his vengeful half-brother who is tired of all the pollution and attacks from the “surface world.” That’s why, with the aid of King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren) and his daughter/soon to be Orm’s wife Mera (Amber Heard), he plans to take the war to the surface world and let mankind know their time is up. But since only a true king can stop Orm and his evil ways, Mera seeks out Arthur to stop him before it is too late for both of their worlds. 

Then again, since the pirate who will become known as Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is after Arthur for what he did – or should that be didn’t do for – his father (Michael Beach), it seems like our hero is going to have his hands full.

THE REVIEW: Of all the members of the D.C. Comics world (Marvel kind of has that Universe thing on lockdown), none have been more ridiculed, scrutinized and generally made fun of more than Aquaman. I mean, he was the long-running source of material on the show Entourage (link language NSFW), Robot Chicken has skewered him for years and even the god-awful abomination that was the Justice League movie even poked fun at one of his most well-known abilities. Like Wonder Woman before him (language NSFW), there was no shortage of jokes about his costume, his skills and, in general, the very idea that someone would want to watch a full-length movie about him.

Then came 2017’s Wonder Woman film – and all the jokes stopped. Now, just in time to round out 2018, Aquaman finds itself in a similar boat (pun intended) … And just like his female predecessor,  Arthur Curry is going to get the last laugh since D.C. Comics’ latest solo superhero cinematic adventure is non-stop fun from start to finish.

Momoa, possibly the ultimate bro among leading men right now, brings all the swag Aquaman has never had as a character to life and then some as the film’s lead. Confident and cool, he proves to be more than brooding brawn and massive muscle as he flexes his thespian talents throughout the film. Of course, being a hulking human being certainly doesn’t hurt as every time he thrashes, bashes and/or generally mashes an enemy, it’s never not believable. 

Of course, having a pretty solid cast doesn’t hurt matters, which is why Heard does her best to not just to be a pretty (and extremely) redheaded face throughout the film as Mera. In line with Natalie Portman as Thor’s former love interest Jane Watson in the Marvel Universe, Heard displays a nice Harrison Ford/Kate Capshaw Raiders of the Lost Ark-like chemistry with Momoa, a niche that definitely helps the movie move forward with a balance of antagonistic humor and heart. Wilson is likewise solid as the villainous King Orm; Abdul-Mateen II does seem to be channeling his best Michael B. Jordan/Erik Killmonger rage as secondary villain Black Manta, although one would hope (should the inevitable sequel come to light) he will get to do much more than just huff and buff and try to blown Aquaman’s sea house in. 

Throw in Dafoe and Lundgren as the solid veteran male support with Kidman getting throw in a nice bit of physicality to go with the standard long-lost mother role and you get what most comic book movies should be: fun and energetic with just enough heart to make them last for more than one bucket of popcorn. That’s not even including director James Wan’s work with the rest of his team to create this most fascinating and visually-appealing world in a superhero movie this side of Wakanda and the film brings it in nearly every scene.

Now, as long as Warner Bros./D.C. can get that whole two-Joker movies thing together by the time 2019 starts, maybe D.C. can keep things going in swimming fashion – Aquaman has already done its part to get them there.



Tabari McCoy
Columnist - Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. An award-winning stand-up comedian who also works as the public relations director at Cincinnati Museum Center, Tabari McCoy is the creator of McCoy on Movies, a blog about movies for film fans. The blog is written by someone who also likes movies that is smart enough to know his opinion isn't always the right one but is willing to express that opinion in public. McCoy also used to review movies for his college paper and a major metropolitan publication, so that helps add to his "street cred." Contact him at You can also check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy.