‘Aquaman’ Reviews: James Wan’s Superhero Movie Is ‘Epic,’ ‘Hard to Resist’

Film starring Momoa currently holds a score of 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

Last Updated: December 11, 2018 @ 12:02 PM

Reviews for James Wan’s “Aquaman” are finally in — and critics seem to argue that while the movie is a spectacle and “a massive adventure,” it has some flaws.

“Plot-wise, the result is a hot, foamy mess, my friends, but a mess that washed over me like a tidal wave, a mess so wild and candy-colored and eager to have a bitchin’ time that it’s some of the most fun I’ve had at a theater this year,” said Collider’s Vinnie Mancuso.

Comic Book’s Brandon Davis added, “each of ‘Aquaman’s’ flaws, are complimented [sic] by brilliant action-sequences, stylish swagger, and an epic, massive adventure, like the character himself.”

“‘Aquaman’ is not only WB/DC’s best film since ‘Wonder Woman,’ but it should easily be considered one of the best cinematic superhero offerings of 2018,” wrote Washington Post’s David Betancourt.

At the time of publication, the film starring Jason Momoa in the titular role had a score of 78 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“To call this movie ‘big’ is an understatement. ‘Aquaman’ has damn near everything: Amber Heard wears a dress made out of domesticated jellyfish, Julie Andrews voices a Lovecraftian aquatic leviathan, Nicole Kidman eats a live goldfish (presumably fake), Willem Dafoe spins a trident so fast it creates an impenetrable saltwater shield,” wrote TheWrap’s film critic William Bibbiani. “You’re in for a spectacle.”

“Aquaman” also stars Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman and Patrick Wilson, and will hit theaters on December 21.

See 9 of the best reviews below.

David Betancourt, Washington Post: 

“The king of the seas has produced a much-needed crowning achievement for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. ‘Aquaman’ is not only WB/DC’s best film since ‘Wonder Woman,’ but it should easily be considered one of the best cinematic superhero offerings of 2018.”

Jim Vejvoda, IGN

“The glee that director James Wan clearly has playing in the world of ‘Aquaman’ is infectious. He’s made a movie for both types of 10-year-olds: literal kids and those who are 10 at heart. ‘Aquaman’ is one hell of a popcorn movie – a fun time and a big bet for the DC movie universe that pays off in creating an exciting new realm for future installments to hopefully explore further. Wan’s geeky epic is chock-full of ridiculous elements and, on paper, it really shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it’s all so inherently weird and brazenly bonkers that the siren call of this giddy, otherworldly romp is hard to resist.”

Matt Donato, We Got This Covered

“Staggering ambition turns ‘Aquaman’ into a sensory overload spectacle that riffs off hypermasculine, 80s brototypes, your mom’s favorite cutesy rom-coms, and sci-fi battles that immediately had me thinking of Heavy Metal. Gasps of astonishment will be a constant scene-by-scene milestone, as Wan rockets higher and higher into a dreamland stratosphere all unto himself. It’s neon bright like a planetarium laser show, and wonderfully self-sufficient storytelling – you could even make an argument that this is 2018’s wildest cinematic blockbuster. What seems like fifteen different subgenres are crammed into a submarine ready to burst. There’s no lack of experimentation here, that’s for certain… ‘Aquaman’ is a cinematic belly buster of the richest, cheesiest, weigh-down-your-stomach comfort calories you can’t help but chow down.”

Vinnie Mancuso, Collider

“Plot-wise, the result is a hot, foamy mess, my friends, but a mess that washed over me like a tidal wave, a mess so wild and candy-colored and eager to have a bitchin’ time that it’s some of the most fun I’ve had at a theater this year, anchored by a Momoa who is having the time of his goddamn life and director James Wan’s genuinely gorgeous vision of an entire universe under the ocean waves… To put it much more succinctly, do I recommend the experience? Yeah-Uh!”

Brandon Davis, Comic Book

“Heavy exposition crowds ‘Aquaman’ through much of its first half. Awkwardly nuanced attempts at somewhat cartoon-ish humor are also present, making some of the water here a little unclear (often seeming as though certain bits of ‘Aquaman’ were unsure which tone it wanted to commit to). However, each of ‘Aquaman’s’ flaws, are complimented [sic] by brilliant action-sequences, stylish swagger, and an epic, massive adventure, like the character himself.”

Hugh Armitage, Digital Spy

“‘Aquaman’ is a flawed but thoroughly entertaining adventure movie and certainly one of the strongest instalments [sic] so far in the inconsistent Worlds of DC franchise… ‘Aquaman’ is a fun, silly and perfectly pitched blockbuster. It’s been a rocky road for DC, but Wan’s movie defies expectation and proves that ‘Justice League’ wasn’t the final nail in the coffin for Warner’s project. There’s still some potential in the Worlds of DC and – if the excellent trailer for 2019’s ‘Shazam!’ is anything to go by – a lot of fun to be had, too.”

Nick Kazden, Heroic Hollywood

“After ‘Justice League’ failed to maintain the momentum established by director Patty Jenkins’ ‘Wonder Woman,’ James Wan delivers a swash-buckling adventure story that kicks things back into gear for DC’s cinematic universe… I know the word “fun” can be seen as a negative in these reviews, but it really is a great way to describe ‘Aquaman.’ Sure, it drags on a little, but it’s an entertaining, thought-provoking film that does a great job leaning into the character’s fantasy elements. Yes, the world is in danger by the end of the film, but ‘Aquaman’ focuses on societal changes and character growth instead of overemphasizing the action. After seeing this movie, no one will be able to make fun of the titular character for riding around on giant seahorses. Instead, everyone will know just how badass and intimidating Aquaman really is.”

Sean O’Connell, Cinema Blend

“With James Wan captaining this massive ship, ‘Aquaman’ sails through a colorful high-stakes adventure that plunges audiences into a vibrant, sci-fi-inspired deep-sea world. While connected to the overarching DCEU, ‘Aquaman’ wisely branches off into its own unique corner of this universe and fills in its undersea world with eye-popping creatures, sleek space crafts and rarely-seen environments that reward a viewing on the biggest screen possible.”

Brian Truitt, USA Today

“Even with its flaws and struggles with originality, ‘Aquaman’ is reminiscent of the early Marvel movies in its storytelling, best when taking wild swings instead of being an earnest superhero jam.”

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