If we Kiwis feel like we own a little bit of Marvel real estate with Taika's Thor: Ragnarok, perhaps we can claim a little of the DC Universe with Aquaman.
Temuera Morrison plays Arthur Curry's mortal dad, but Jake the Muss isn't the only Aotearoa vibe to this Aquaman. Jason Momoa's underwater superhero wears a stunning pounamu around his neck, he brandishes his Atlantean trident like a taiaha, he breathes in his father in an emotional hongi when he greets him. And amidst all the usual bombastic bluster of a superhero blockbuster, this film honours our moana just as Disney's Moana did before it.
And you know what? It's pretty damn cool.
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The fact this DC movie doesn't suck should have been enough given the dreadful Justice League precursor. It did bode well that Momoa's Aquaman was widely regarded as the best thing in that hot mess of a movie and now he gets to deliver solo; and deliver he does.
Momoa embodies this superhero with a humble cheeky swagger and the mostly cohesive story is a welcome lungful of fresh ocean air, simple amidst the ridiculousness, funny in all the right moments, action-packed when it counts.
All of it is wrapped up in that much needed wry and irreverent self-awareness which DC just hadn't managed to crack until now. After raising the bar with Wonder Woman, the baton is handed on to Aquaman; the women here are blissfully bad-ass and they know their place, which is wherever the f**K they say it is.
Nicole Kidman as the banished Queen of Atlantis and Amber Heard as Mera may be rocking the requisite skin-tight mermaidian onesies, but they take no prisoners when it comes to leading the charge and kicking serious butt. Mera's mission to bring the half-breed Atlantean mortal Aquaman back to the ocean depths to save Atlantis is a fraught one and in the process she'll need to save Aquaman's life, more than once.
More importantly than that, though, is that Aquaman is cool with that. He doesn't burst into a furnace of humiliated flames; being rescued by a woman is sweet as by him, and on he goes, ego intact.
Don't get me wrong, the usual superhero tropes abound and there are some groans and WTF moments as always, but honestly? I was having far too much fun to care.
The underwater visual effects are actually kind of amazing, especially on IMAX, and the grand finale plays out with a boisterously entertaining and gratifying energy.
All in all, Aquaman is the most fun I've had underwater since my co-ed intermediate school swimming sports.
Four worthy stars.