Whenever someone asks me what "Aquaman" is like, I mention an early scene in which opponents of Atlantean forces square off and discuss the future of the kingdom. That whinny one - side rides of armored seahorses. The other rides were armored with roaring sharks.

To be as ridiculous as this requires skill about a semi-human, semi-Atlantean prince known on earth as Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) without appearing to condescend to the material. Directed by James Wan ("Saw," "The Conjuring"), it is part of a thriving sub-category of superhero films, also represented by "Spider-Man: Homecoming," "Thor: Ragnarök," "Venom" and both pictures of but that's not to say that in their way those movies are not serious. " In particular, Aquaman feels simultaneously like a spoof and an operatic melodrama. Any film that can combine these modes is a force that should be taken into account.

However, the most noteworthy aspect is the way "Aquaman" pushes against the idea that violence can solve every problem.

There are plenty of fights on land and sea, as well as laser shoots and clashes with aquatic infantry, but through conversation, negotiation, and forgiveness some of the most important showdowns are resolved peacefully. In this film, both men and women cry and the sight is not treated as a shameful loss of dignity, but as an ordinary-product of pain or happiness. This is a quietly subversive film, and an evolutionary step forward for the genre, for all its wild spectacle and cartoon cleverness.

The film is overlong and somewhat repetitive (as big-budget superhero movies tend to be), and the second half of it is more distinctive than the first. Allows it's the freak flag to fly. But mostly Wan and company do a brilliant job of shaking the algae out of clichés they focus on characterization and performance, production design, costumes, and visual details instead of getting bogged down in plot details.

Each frame has wonderful details that you may not be able to catch when viewing first. The Atlantes use their mouths to speak, but there are no visible bubbles, only vocal distortion suggesting "bubbly-ness."do not swim at dolphin speeds, they square off against each other as if standing on the ground on a sidewalk, bobbing ever-so-slightly. Water dwellers have lighting provided by luminous deep - sea creatures and high - tech water animals and plants inspired by water. Some of the armor of the battle features oversized lobster and crab claws. Mera wears a dress in one scene with a collar of glowing jellyfish and a multicolored skirt of seagrass. We hear taiko drumming on the soundtrack in an arena sequence, and the camera is moving to reveal a lone percussionist: a giant pulp.

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