The early reviews for Aquaman are in. The social media embargo has lifted for fandom critics who have seen DC Comics’ latest in its entirety. The result? Overwhelmingly strong praise for director James Wan’s superhero movie debut, while admitting a few flaws.
IGN podcast cohost Tom Jorgensen gave the film some very tall praise indeed, calling Aquaman, “the best DC movie since The Dark Knight. [James Wan] delivers a swashbuckling epic full of big emotion, gorgeous undersea visuals, exciting action, and lots of laughs. WB should be handing the DCEU reins to James Wan, he’s proven he can, ahem, right the ship.”
Slashfilm editor Peter Sciretta called the movie “better than expected” and said it “Feels like a Marvel phase one movie, in a good way. It’s at its best when it’s having fun and not taking itself too seriously. Black Manta is great villain that comic book fans will love. Some truly spectacular one shots and good action… Third act battle that doesn’t devolve into the typical comic book movie blah trap, and is surprisingly ambitious. A lot of the aspects I didn’t like can probably be traced back to decisions Snyder made that were inherited by Wan (casting, chemistry between Heard/Mamoa…etc).”
Gizmodo’s Germain Lussier called Aquaman “a big, fun, wild ride. It’s unabashedly melodramatic and over the top with the largest, most ambitious sense of scale imaginable. Parts of it are kind of bad but they are not the majority and, oddly, still fit in with the cartoony tone. 2nd best DCU movie.” (The first, we assume, was Wonder Woman).
Fandango managing editor Erik Davis added that it’s “the most ambitious DC movie to date — a big, sprawling visual spectacle that is gorgeous, crazy, stuffed with terrific action, and a lot of fun to watch. James Wan, in my opinion, is the true star – he elevates the material, makes it entertaining and conquers it.”
Gamespot senior editor Mike Rougeau called it “flawed but fun … Momoa and Patrick Wilson are absolute gems. Most of all, the movie is just flat out insane. I can’t believe how big, creative, and crazy it gets. Gotta see it again!”
Comicbook.com’s Brandon Davis wrote: “There were moments where I felt Aquaman might be running a little long but it has SO much to unpack in building its own isolated world. Huge, epic, unique, and stylish action-sequences balance the heavy exposition. Movie isn’t out yet but I want more from Wan, Momoa, & co.”
Writer-director Ben Mekler said Wan succeeded at his goal of staging an undersea Star Wars: It’s “everything DC fans have been hoping for and more. Rollicking action, an amazing sense of world-building, spellbinding musical numbers in which Aquaman wears clams as tap shoes, and a command performance from Jason Momoa. DC has really righted the ship. The DCEU lives!”
L.A. Film Critics Society VP Ashley Menzel wrote: “A perfect balance of cheesy humor & action. James Wan shows his skill as a director & puts his mark on DC in a big way. Momoa is perfectly charming & brings Aquaman out of the shadows to stand alongside the greats like #WonderWoman.”
GeeksofColor writer Andrew J. Salazar wrote, “2nd best DC movie behind WW (no shade this is an a accomplishment) with lots of killer visuals. Lots of stuff I liked and some stuff I was very lukewarm on. The latter could possibly be improved on latter down the series. Most upbeat DC film.”
LegionofLeia founder Jenna Busch wrote, “an absolute blast, from the charm of Momoa’s Arthur Curry, to the spectacular visuals to the fun that it was clear that everyone was having. It was exactly what I was hoping for and I can’t wait to see it again! I’ll give you more details when I’m allowed!”
Cinemablend editor Eric Eisenberg wrote: “Excited I can now say how much I enjoyed Aquaman! It’s a cool adventure built on some tremendous action sequences and set pieces, with a great hero arc/performance from Jason Momoa as the glue. There’s fun world building, and it looks wonderful. A great step for the DCEU.”
Aquaman is released Dec. 21.