Between Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, Mary Poppins Returns, Bumblebee and the very recently announced Deadpool movie (which is now rumoured not to be a PG-13 re-cut of the previous film, but a whole new holiday movie), December is crowded with films that are big budget blockbusters that their respective studios no doubt expect to make a lot of money come Christmas.
With so much competition in just one week, and with two other releases on the same day (Bumblebee and Deadpool), Warner Bros. and DC Films are truly putting their all into promoting the latest entry in the DCEU, Aquaman. The film’s latest trailer – dubbed an “extended video” – certainly makes a case for why audiences should be paying to see it above everything else hitting theatres in that December 14th – December 21st time period.
It Borrows From Other Great (Or At Least Good) Properties
It doesn’t take close inspection of this trailer to see that Aquaman shares some similarities with films and other I.P.s that have come before it. Those familiar elements are drawn from I.P.s that are universally adored by audiences.
Arthur and Mera’s trek across the desert and discovery of an ancient Atlantean ruin is reminiscent of the Indiana Jones films. Mera needing Arthur’s sweat to activate the artifact harkens back to the climax of The Fifth Element and the runes are similar to those found in Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Their facing off against Black Manta and his henchman feels very much like an Uncharted game or the 2011 The Adventures of Tin Tin 3D animated film (which itself was compared to Uncharted). Atlantis looks a lot like Atlantica from Disney’s The Little Mermaid in some shots from the trailer. Aquaman has even been compared to Black Panther since it’s first trailer premiered.
Pointing out these similarities is not to say that Aquaman is stealing or anything of the sort. All media borrows from other media within and without it’s specific medium. As they say, “there are no original ideas”; only fresh takes and new perspectives on old ones. Some of the best things ever made are a mixture of ideas that came before it and what separate them from derivative rubbish is expertise, creativity and imagination. Aquaman looks to be the latter and not the former.
Speaking of the look of Atlantis…
The Production Design is Exquisite
Every single shot of Atlantis in this trailer is stunning. From the Greco-Roman architectural designs of the ruins of the ancient Atlantean city, to it’s splendour in its heyday, to the city’s new underwater home that beautifully blends old, new, natural and technological and the opulent and otherworldly throne room. It’s all impeccable and awe-inspiring. It establishes Atlantis as a once and still great civilisation.
There’s Dynamic Camerawork And Exhilarating Action/Fight Sequences
The camerawork in the fight sequence between Arthur and Mera and Black Manta and his goons was compelling and draws one into what is taking place on screen, particularly because of the long take. Energetic camerawork is seen later in the trailer when Queen Atlanna – Arthur’s mother – fights off enemies in the home she shares with Arthur’s father, Tom Curry. Both instances in the trailer that no doubt elicited reactions of “That was so cool!” Because they were.
Fun fact: The director of Aquaman, James Wan, directed Furious 7 (as well as Saw, Insidious, Insidious: Chapter 2, The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2). So if the preview of the aforementioned sequence felt like a Fast and Furious film, now you know why. That is enough to set expectations for what the action sequences – and this film on the whole – will be like. The Furious films may not be works of art and testaments to cinematic achievement, but they have always been thrilling and entertaining and that same energy comes through in this trailer.
Aquaman may well turn out to be a huge, steaming pile of garbage, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will be a very enjoyable huge, steaming pile of garbage.
It Has A Vibrant Colour Palette…
Gone are the dull, lifeless, dreary greys, blacks and blues of early DCEU fare. Much like with Wonder Woman, Aquaman is embracing colour and it works. The film is very pleasing to the eye. This shift in colouring is of course part of Warner Bros. and DC Films’ overall tonal shift for their superhero franchise films. The colouring here is warm and inviting; words that aren’t often used to describe films of this nature, but are apt descriptors in the case of Aquaman. The colour makes the world in which these characters exist more appealing, especially as one which the audience would like to inhabit.
…And Well Realised CGI
The CGI in this trailer is quite good – I’d even dare to call it virtually seamless – and there is a lot of it to be seen. From the very first shot in the trailer, right on through to the end, there is non-stop CGI in this trailer and hardly any of it looks terrible. If any at all. Queen Atlanna’s dive off of the pier looked very inhuman, but, she’s isn’t human; she’s Atlantean. Entirely CGI elements like capes, hair, sea creatures and more or less all of Atlantis look very convincing. As does the giant CGI battle and the former Atlantean king summoning whales out of the water (or whatever is going on in that shot). Warner Bros. and DC Films spent their CGI budget well.
It’s only October. This film comes out in a little over two months and as they say, the CGI in trailers isn’t usually complete and therefore isn’t indicative of what the final product will look like. So who knows, it might just look even better when the film hits cinemas.
He’s Just Being Jason
If you’re a fan of Jason Momoa’s personality and antics, then you’re sure to love him here. He’s essentially just being himself, which is exactly what James Wan wanted. We got a taste of Momoa’s interpretation of Arthur Curry in Justice League and he was one of the better parts of that film. He was personable, charismatic, funny and charming. This trailer promises more of the same. One thing seemingly missing from Arthur’s characterisation, however, is the hard liquor chugging, scowling ruffian that he was in the first Justice League trailer and in the scene in which Bruce recruits him. That aspect to the character was only ever seen in those two, short instances, though.
He’s Wearing His Costume From The Comics!
It had been rumored since February that Momoa would don the green and gold in this film and now it’s been confirmed! There was even an image of an Aquaman figure showing Momoa’s version of the character in the classic suit back then and a new figure in a slightly different version was just previewed by Sideshow Collectibles. The green and gold costume is here and Momoa looks pretty darn good in it.
Watch the new Aquaman trailer for the 100th time below: