Edit Bay Visit: Scene descriptions and more with James Wan for Aquaman!

There is no question about it, we here at JoBlo are very excited to see the first solo effort from DC's ocean-dwelling hero AQUAMAN. We are thrilled at the prospect of Jason Momoa returning and headlining the film. Then there's Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Djimon Hounsou and a few other exciting names. However, the star of the newest chapter in the DCU is James Wan. After starting off the SAW franchise, this incredibly gifted filmmaker continued to create massively entertaining horror franchise films like THE CONJURING and INSIDIOUS. Yet Wan then took on what perhaps was the most challenging Fast and Furious flick with FURIOUS 7, and he made it a spectacle of a movie-going experience. Now, he's taking on a little project about a guy that can talk to fish.

As a fan of the Aquaman character, I have faith that James will lend his style brilliantly to the new film. That faith was restored heavily thanks to a recent edit bay visit with the director where Wan revealed a handful of scenes that they've been working on, and frankly, my excitement for the project went into hyperdrive. As much as it looks like a massive undertaking, the footage that we saw is a mix of the best of both worlds. The visual effects are wonderfully impressive, the dialogue between the characters is extremely engaging and Nicole Kidman looks utterly badass.

James discussed the scenes and answered a number of questions about this underwater icon and it's impossible to resist his passion and enthusiasm for the project. While I may have had doubts early on, nearly all of it has been washed away due to the stunning images that we were introduced to. And wow, the one take scenes are about as cool as you could possibly imagine in a CG heavy superhero movie. James discussed those paticular sequences, working with Nicole and Jason, creating the look of the film and how he wanted to make AQUAMAN a layered story, one that balances edge-of-your-seat excitement with humor. And since October is coming, he also promised that he wasn't quite finished with horror. Luckily, some of his genre skills will show up in his latest epic adventure, perhaps to a creature or two. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the great James Wan - with my own thoughts on the footage below in red.

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We were just talking, I love the horror movies. Are you gonna go back to directing horror movies again? Like, I love that you're producing them, but I wanna see you get back into it.

James Wan: I will. That's a promise. I will get back to it at some point. I mean, even Sam Raimi did right? After Spiderman he went back, and did [Drag Me To Hell]. That was so much fun. So, yeah, but I gotta find the right project, because I think when I go back to horror, that'll be quite a spotlight on it, so I just wanna make sure that it's something I really dig.

Yeah. I'm just being different, because I mean obviously, this is such a massive production, but you're used to like doing multiple projects at the same time, so has this been different?

JW: It’s like handling, like The Conjuring spinoffs, and like La Llorona and doing all that, but then, this is a big monster of a film, and just, trying to juggle all the plates in the air, make sure nothing drops. It's a bit of a handful, but I've got lots of great people working on the different projects. So, yeah. So ...

Is it difficult to remain in control of it, because it's such a ... obviously, a well established character, and you're dipping into the DC world. Is that hard for you to give it your own style?

JW: With this particular film, no, not really. I mean, obviously, certain elements have already been established from Justice League, but I'm really coming into this, and just pretty much making my own movie. And, what I'm gonna show you guys, you guys are gonna see, it's a bit different. And, I think it has my stamp all over it. And, I'm literally still in the midst, but I'll give you my disclaimer. It's in the midst of like, I'm putting it together. A lot of visual effects work is to be done, you know, sound, mix, color, and all that stuff. But I mean, yeah. I'm here to show you guys what we've been working on.

Just a quick question, were any of you guys at the Comic Con panel for this?


JW: So, four of you guys. So, I'm like ... So, four of you guys... [Only a couple of journalists raise their hands]

Well, okay. So, most of you have already seen the Comic Con piece, but that's what I usually start off with. Would you guys wanna check that out, again?

So, yeah. This is the piece that we played at Hall H that didn't get out, but we've just [added] some visual effect shots have been updated. And, that's all I'm doing, doings like ... since what I show in the trailer, and all that stuff, my visual effects shots have just like been updated, updated, updated. So, it's a process that's gonna be updated, up 'til the end, to the release of the film.

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The first footage we were shown was something that had already been revealed to those lucky enough to be in Hall H at this year's San Diego Comic Con. For me, the first time I saw the official trailer I was hopeful, but I was still concerned that the film wouldn't necessarily live up to my hopes and expectations. Happily, the footage all you lucky Con goers saw really worked. We see more of Nicole (more on that later), we get a better look at some of the underwater effects and even a little more Black Manta. However, that moment when we see Jason Mamoa in his full Aquaman suit was the icing on the cake. You can check out what our own Paul Shirey thought of the Comic Con footage HERE as well as his SET VISIT coverage HERE.

Was it a challenge to adapt Black Manta so faithfully, and actually have it not look incredibly goofy, like it totally could have, based on the comic book. I can't ... like, how did you actually pull that off?

JW: Yeah. I mean, listen, getting Black Manta right, for me, was a prime directive for me, very early on, with designing the whole look of the film. The movie's such a design heavy film, and that is one aspect of it. Obviously, getting it right was super important for the fans, and obviously, for myself as well, and ultimately for the people that are not familiar with him 'cause he's a pretty strange looking guy. It's a very strange look. 

And so, I know that I wanna stay true to what people are familiar with of him in the comic book, but also for the non fans. They can look at that, and kind of go, "Oh, he's weird, but it's practical." It's somewhat of a diving suit, potentially, and stuff like that. And so, yeah, we worked on him a lot at the pre production, very early on, to try to get him right.

You can see my early designs up here, like just the different stages. It's super cool. Keeping his head big, and his eyes big, was very important for me.

So in comic book history, Atlantis has got a really complicated past, like there are a lot of layers, and a lot of like complicated things happening. What was the most important thing about  Atlantis as a society for you to pull from the comics, and put on the big screen?

JW: Right. Definitely for me, in terms of source material, there's so much, such rich, sort of materials to pull from, right?  By however many years of story line to be pulling from. I definitely wanted to focus whatever I was doing with Atlantis, was stuff that I needed to tie it back to my main characters, to tying back to Patrick Wilson's character, King Orm, and his sort of background, his idea of what Atlantis is, and then also, having a bit of history lesson in there about what Atlantis was before it sank. 

And, we all know that sort of mythology of that which is, they were so advanced. So, it's a period in a lot of ways, but then that was sort of their undoing, right? And so, kind of playing a little bit into that touching, on that wall, as well. 

Yeah. Definitely trying to pull things from the comic that serves as our story, but then also bearing in mind for non fans out there, that I need to bring as much sort of history from the comic book world. Then also, kind of keeping it somewhat, kind of making it not so deep, so that a non fan would have a hard time following. That kind of balance, yeah.

Are you gonna be touching like on all seven kingdoms, or is it the case, of the story allows for this many, and you'll do whatever you can in the future?

JW: Spoiler. I mean, seven kingdoms is a lot of kingdoms. And just right off the bat, you can tell that there's the world of Atlantis, which is where King Orm and where Arthur is technically the rightful ruler, right?  And, he's the rightful heir to the throne. And so, we definitely touch on Atlantis, but then we also know that Dolph Lundgren's character is in there, as well, and he's the king of, the kingdom of Xebel. So, we know we touch on that. And in the trailer, you see we touch on the wall of the trench. And, we go out into the desert. So, we touch on the desert kingdom, as well. And, I feel there are other surprises in there that I wanna hold back.

So, were the trench your opportunity to bring some of that James Wan horror into Aquaman?

JW: Oh yeah.

'Cause that shot in the Comic Con footage is definitely right up your alley.

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JW: Yeah. I think it was that, that got me super excited for early on when I went in and spoke with the DC executives, and I said, "Wow, guys. We've got such great opportunity here to basically bring horror elements into a superhero world that we don't quite, we're not quite used to seeing in mainstream superhero universe.  And, there's this naturally, organically lends itselt to it. And if I was to come on board, that's what I would like to do." And, they were more than cool about that. Actually, they were very excited. They were like, "We love the idea of Aquaman versus sea monsters." And I was like, "Okay. I'm sold."

Could you talk about that one shot we see in there, or seemingly one shot? I'm sure it's seamlessly ...

JW: The one, with the long shot?


JW: What you saw in that piece, was only half of it.


JW: I’m a big fan of ... I like to tell stories using my one shot to sort of link, sort of disparate some of the elements together. And in that sequence, as you can see, Arthur is dueling it out with Black Manta, while Mera is fighting her own battle with Atlantan commandos. And, I just didn't want to sort of like, cut this, cut to that, cut to that. I tried to create in a kind of seemingly smooth way of tying just the space together. 

I do that a lot in my horror films, as well. I like to kind of show the world that you're in, so ... All it takes is that one shot, and it gives you a perfect sort of geography of the space you're in, and that helps a lot of times with the action, or the scares that you're trying to build, and that kind of stuff is important for me. And I think for the kind of action that I do, and I try to do a bit of that, as well, even in my Fast and Furious film. I think letting the audience kind of know where they are, and doing it with a very, succinct film making method is very important. I'm not just doing this because it looks cool, 'cause it's very hard to pull that off. I do it because I think it's an important piece of story telling hin the films that I do.

Yeah. It's just like the scope of the stakes.

JW: Yeah. And just the geography, I think more importantly, so the audience is never sort of confused as to where they're at. I think that's very important, especially if you have two very different things going on at the same time.

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If you’ve seen the trailer - and if you are reading this I’m certain you have - you get a brief glimpse at the discovery of Nicole Kidman’s Queen of Atlanna who washes up on the rocks during a storm. Lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) finds her while attempting to fix a window during the massive rainstorm. After he sees her lying unconscious just below, he quickly brings her inside to tend to her wounds. The beauty of this entire sequence is that it is exactly what you may expect from a James Wan feature. There is wonderful humor when she wakes and finds herself in this strange world. Especially when she is shocked by a large box with images and sounds blaring out at her - they clearly don’t have TV where she comes from. Lets just say she takes care of that box promptly.

Essentially this entire section of the film works as a love story with laughs and some incredible action. We see the two fall in love. The shots of the couple spending time together, and the eventually birth of Arthur himself, is surprisingly sweet. And in this world, it is a pretty big deal that the the Queen of Atlanna and a human can procreate. Before I get into the action, let me focus on the emotional impact. What we see in a mere minutes is two people who fall in love, start a family, and then they are forced to separate for the well-being of their child. It may not be quite as heart wrenching as the opening to the Pixar classic UP, but for this viewer it came pretty close. Wan is able to build upon this endearing relationship in the midst of a massive superhero tale, and I expect that it will carry over beautifully into the rest of the film.

As far as the action is concerned, that taste we and the Comic Con audiences had of Nicole destroying a bunch of henchmen was well rewarded. One thing I’m most excited about is James Wan spending time on shots and not a bunch of quick cuts throughout. When her whereabouts are discovered by those she seemingly escaped from, the lighthouse is attacked from all sides, Queen Atlanna repels them with precision as the camera circles around here - all in one shot. This is absolutely glorious. The Queen is a skilled fighter, and the use of her Quindent is just astounding. The stunt work, visual effects, the exceptional camera work and of course Kidman herself make this scene something to behold. This is a strong opening, and it perfectly established what appears to be the tone of the film.

JW: On the next piece I'm gonna show you guys, is Nicole Kidman. And, I'm actually gonna show you guys the opening prologue to the film, 'cause this is very important for me because this shows how mom and dad meet. And why I think it's important is because, I'm gonna show you guys that for me, the love story of Arthur and Mera is important, but the love story of mom and dad, and how they meet, and fall in love, is just as important, if not more important. The emotion that we have with those two characters is the sort of the emotional backbone for the whole film. 

And my whole movie is sort of built around how Arthur feels because of how Atlantis has kind of has basically ... He has a chip on his shoulder with Atlantis because of what he blames Atlantis did to his mother. And so, that is like the backbone for the whole film. And I think, it's an important thing to kind of lay out, because it sets up the whole movie.

We were on set, I don't know exactly who we were talking to, but it was mentioned that Nicole Kidman apparently wanted to work with you for a very long time. When did that relationship start, and how did it come to be?

JW: I think it was right after Insidious. We were working on a project together, but it would have been really cool if it had actually happened. It would have been a throw back to The Others, for Nicole. It was like a very classic, sort of haunted house thriller with Nicole in it. But, it was a project that we developed, and unfortunately never  really eventuated, but it was insane, you know. 

We’ve been wanting to work with each other, and so when this film came along, I was like, "Oh, my god. ma, queen of Atlantis." She was literally my first choice. And so, we went up to her, and you know, I kept my fingers crossed that she would say, yes. And, she said, yes. So, I'm very happy, 'cause she's amazing.

Usually directors say that they have a female character who kicks ass. Wow. Nicole can kick ass.

She did much of that right?

JW: She did it with some help, but you talked about one shot before? That is one shot. Like if I show you guys behind the scene of that, it is messy as heck, but it literally is ... We built the set with the ceiling removed, and it literally was a spider cam that'd just zip around the whole room, just like following the action, you know? It was following her as she just takes a person out, takes another person out, and you know, and obviously we use visual effects to help clean a lot of things up, and all that. But yeah, we did a lot of that in camera practical stunt.

And one actual take?

JW: Yeah. It was one actual take, yes.

How many takes did it take to ...

JW: It a ... how many takes did we do?

Live action ones?

JW: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What was it, 30?


JW: I think I did over 30 takes. And it had to be split over two days, 'cause like on the first day we did it like my poor or like amazing stunt actors got so tired 'cause we were doing like take after take. And it's just like hard to keep that energy up, right? And so they were like oh we weren't quite there yet. Just missing out. It's like we, like they'll be moments where we would get everything and the last moment, it'd be like aw, just way off it. Shit. Try it again. And so yeah, so we would come back a few days later, 'cause we have to rebuild the set back up. 'Cause after a whole day of photography we beat the crap out of the set, so they had to, art department had to come in, dress it back up and then we did it again.  Yeah.  

Did you use a earlier take or a later take?

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JW: I can't remember now. 'Cause it's usually, I did a similar thing in like in Death Sentence where I had like this one sort of parking garage shot that we shot like a whole bunch, like 15 takes and I went back and used like take three. But…

In this opening sequence, there's a lot of heart in this. And kind of a sweetness that is almost reminiscent of DC kind of kicking the whole thing off with Superman: The Movie in 1978.

JW: Right.

Was that a key influence on this? And carrying forward maybe the legacy of that film a little bit?

JW: Yeah. I mean, definitely. I really think just having a superhero that has a sort of an uplifting message to it is really important. Kirk and I are big fans of the Donner version of Superman. It's very uplifting. And very positive. And I know we live in a much more cynical world today, but I still think we can bring a lot of that back and deep down I'm such a romantic and I love that just the very sort of sweet, romantic nature of how mom and dad are from such different worlds, but it didn't matter. Like the love for each other bring them together and through that, through their love you get Arthur Curry, you get Aquaman, right? And so it was important for me, because I wanted a superhero who's and how he is shaped moving forward is very much shaped by the love that mom and dad had. And it's also what kind of makes him a bit bitter, because what happened to them. So and I think it was a very important thing to kind of like capture that spirit very early on in the opening sort of sequence of the movie that would kind of, like I said, that would become the sort of emotional backbone for the rest of the film.  

I'm just curious, you mentioned this is the prologue, but in for example in the trailer you have that shot of little Arthur at the aquarium.  I'm just curious how you're using flashbacks or if it's entirely kind of linear.  

JW: Well so, where we stopped it, the camera pulls away from Dad at the dock with the young baby Arthur, we drop down and then we crane, we drop down and we follow the fish and we pan across and now we're inside the aquarium scene.  


JW: And that takes us back, that takes us to the boy, the little boy.  Like eight year old Arthur, yeah.  And yeah, and there's a kind of a fun, little moment there that you've seen in the trailer.  And so, you know, so I kind of wanna establish a lot of his sort of back story but kind of in a short amount of time.  And I think that's important to again show who he was at one stage and how he was a very sort of optimistic young kid.  And then what happened that kind of made him who he would eventually become, which is Jason Momoa.  So the kind of more grumpy.  So he starts the movie off kind of as the adult, kind of the grumpy version which is kind of where we last left him at the end of Justice League.  But then the journey that he kind of he goes through to become the king that he is supposed to be.  And so yeah, that's kind of fun just watching how his character kind of changes.  And the other thing, the thing that I wanna kind of show a little bit is obviously how people move and talk in the world of Atlantis.  In the underwater world.  And really kind of show a bit of the relationship between Arthur Curry and his younger brother, King Orm, played by Patrick Wilson.  And their sort of like their antagonistic, antagonism that they have between with each other.  But also somewhat of a mutual respect for one another as well.  And then kind of give you guys a look into just the underwater world and how they move, how they fight and that kind of stuff.  I think it's very important because I get a lot of people asking me, how do, do people move like they swim in slow motion?  Like no, that's how we move underwater.  That's not how they move.  They specially adapt to underwater living.  And so yeah, check this out.

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Orn vs. Aquaman

This may be a huge spoiler for some, so read the next couple of paragraphs with caution. In the next sequence we were shown, a battle is about to begin. Aquaman/Arthur and his half-brother Orm - played by the always reliable Patrick Wilson - are about to fight. It all takes place in the middle of a massive underwater coliseum. And in the center is a sort of stage where the two face off against each other. We learn through their brief exchange that Orm is resentful of Arthur due to the fact that his birth led to the execution of his mother.

The battle itself is impressive as the two go in for the attack. And clearly, the setting is familiar to Orm, while not so much for Arthur. What is especially impressive is how seamlessly it all works with the fight choreography and the underwater effects. At one point, Arthur finds himself knocked down onto the ocean floor, where a ring of fire surrounds the battlefield of a stage. This all leads to what is a pretty spectacular showdown, one that could mean the end for Arthur after Orm breaks his Quindent in half. When it looks as if this may be the end of our hero, Mera shows up to save the day.

There is a lot to like in this particular sequence. Notably, the way the characters move. As James Wan mentioned, when you are underwater, you won’t appear wet per say. Certainly there is a flow to their movements, however it never distracts and seemingly comes across as natural - you could even say graceful. Along with the long hair or clothing that subtly flows about, and the occasional use of bubbles, the effects are impressive to say the least. And once again, Wan happily lingers on certain shots which I personally loved - I’ll be mentioning another great scene that manages to do this in a bit.

This sequence also has a few cool little treats including an octopus playing drums - a homage to the character Topo. It also gives us an interesting take on Wilson’s Orm. While it is difficult to say flat out that you can judge the entire film from about 15 minuets of footage or so, I liked the character dynamic between the half-brothers. As for the fighting, there is some terrific work here. In the abyss of this underwater adventure, even the slow motion shots seem to be appropriate. One of the best things I can say about this, as well as the other three sequences we watched, it feels like a James Wan directed feature in the best of ways. According to the man himself, he was given the freedom to make this his own and it shows.

Can you talk about the idea of doing all the wire work, which I presume, as opposed to, say, getting the actors actually into a water tank?

JW: Yeah, listen. A lot of very difficult planning and really putting the actors through very rigorous training to work on those rigs. The rigs and the wire work and all that stuff. First thing we did was train the actors, everyday to get their stamina up so that they can go like 12 hours a day. Just being in those harnesses. It's so painful, especially for someone like Momoa who's so big. So you can imagine how uncomfortable that is for him. 

In the full costume too. Yeah. 

JW: Especially for a guy because most of the rig kind of goes like this. For him, it's not the most pleasant thing. Working with a stunt department, we do it in steps and stages. First, we'll, sort of, design the fight on the floor and how it would move because that would be the easiest way. We lay it all out. Then we go, okay, we're not fighting on a dry surface. We have to think about the fact that gravity plays differently so now we go to the next step. We now bring in wire work and the rigging and stuff like that. Then we now have to translate what we laid out on the floor, now onto a different level, literally. Floating the actors and stuff like that. Of course, the final big step is really getting visual effects to come in and just really help us. Kind of, take out stuff that I can't do otherwise. 

There is a moment where it's just a one shot kind of thing. Watching them just them find cameras just rips all around them. So we would do motion capture, play out. Getting the actors to kind of play out. And the stunt department to kind of lay out the moves. And so just capture the movement into a computer and then basically using the computer. What those guys do, visual effects, those geniuses, is re-animate the world and then I can put my camera anywhere which is so much fun. It's kind of filmmaking I've never done before and it's very exciting. A new tool to add to my bag of tricks. 

How much research and development went into the digital effects portion of this because nobody's really ever done anything like this, not just in comic book movies but in action blockbusters period? Nobody's had to have massive action sequences underwater. 

JW: Right. 

So how extensive was the R&D but then the trial and error since you've gone into post. 

JW: A lot of it. A lot of it was definitely, we try to design it in pre-production and we would do lots of things. So even though we did a lot of dry for wet but we wanted to make sure things looked somewhat authentic underwater. We would get costumes, sets and our actors and submerge them underwater. We did so much study just to see what they would look like and the most surprising thing that we discovered early on is people, objects and stuff do not look wet under water. It only looks wet when you take it out of water. When it's glistening and it's dripping wet, that's how something looks wet. But when you're underwater it actually looks matte. That concept was a bit tricky to wrap our heads around. Especially for me because we constantly have to go in there and pat our actors down with makeup. Because, constantly under those bright lights and all the stunts, they were constantly sweating and all that. You don't see water underwater. You don't see sweat. 

It's such a weird thing to kind of wrap my head around, early on. We did a lot of that and, of course, we shoot as much of it as we can practically. We want to shoot as much, even if visual effects was to come in and augment a lot of it, right, they want to start with something that is real, that is tangible that they go see and go, oh this is what would happen or more importantly it's how the actors and the stunt actors would react and act. That was really important and then in post production we try to take it up to 10 notches up as much as we can.

In all of the scenes, we've seen so far, it's funny. It's very funny. There's like the octopus in this one. There was this jokes between this one. 

JW: Are you guys familiar with the comic book? Like the sixties, super friends. 

Oh yeah. 

JW: Do you guys know Topo? He is a pet octopus. You guys don't write about that one [Laughing]. That's for the hardcore fans out there. Because in the comic book, Topo would play all kinds of instruments. Literally, one tentacle would be playing the harp and then another one would be playing the violin. The other tentacle would be playing the piano. This is my take on that. He's playing the big Japanese drums in a tribalistic kind of way. I joke that the octo-drummer should hook up with the guitar flame guy from MAD MAX FURY ROAD.

It's like a level of camp that we don't really see, especially in DC movies, we don't usually get that sort of camp. 

JW: I’ve said since day one. Any of you guys have listened to me from day one, I've always said I want to make a fun movie. I know back then everyone's saying, "Fun because DC's so dark or whatever. There's no fun." I'm like, no, guys, I'm making a movie about Aquaman and he talks to fish and stuff like that. You've got to lean into that. You got to not be afraid of the camp of it all but the key is try and make it cool, right? The key is try and make it cool, something that you can kind of smile at it but that's kind of fun, that's awesome. That is my job to try and take what collectively we all know from pop culture the lamest super hero and have fun with him. Make him the freaking coolest super hero I can. That's my dream. My dream is to make him cooler than Batman and Superman, so that's just my dream. 

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The Rooftop Chase

This is why I love James Wan’s work. One of the most exciting moments that was revealed during the edit bay visit is one I look forward to witnessing on the big screen. Earlier I made reference to a one shot take that is absolutely extraordinary.  This is that shot. Soon after Aquaman and Mera escape from the earlier battle, they find themselves fighting Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and his henchmen. This is beyond impressive as the camera moves from Aquaman destroying the competition and Mera running atop the rooftops from her foes all in one take. Think ATOMIC BLONDE on a blockbuster scale.

You can catch a very brief moment from this scene the official trailer as Mera soars across two buildings, but as mentioned, it was featured more prominently in the Comic Con trailer. If you were there, you’ll have a better idea of the scope of how impressively this is handled. Yet this is the just one of things that Wan brings to AQUAMAN. His stylistic vision is perfect for a large scale epic adventure such as this. During our conversation he mentioned a few of his own inspirations, and one of which only added to my excitement. And the next bit of footage was definitely proof of that. Ladies and gentlemen, if you are a fan of ROMANCING THE STONE, you are going to love the very charming back and forth between Momoa and Heard.

I totally got a lot of broad strokes of the feel of films like Labyrinth or Princess Bride going into Indian Jones and stuff like that. You're balancing the different genres and sub-genres between action and adventure, romance and action and comedy. Can you talk about how that's all anchored within the overall theme of the film being, you know, he is the son of the land and of the sea and how you tapped into the mythology.

JW: Yes, definitely. I can answer that in two ways. The next scene that I wanna show you guys kind of showcases how [Aquaman] to me, without being too on the nose, it’s a fish out of water story. When he’s in Atlantis, he’s the fish out of water, but when they go on land, Mera is the one that’s fish out of water. This next scene I want to show you guys, because I think it’s important for me to show you a bit of the relationship between Arthur and Mera, which is such a big thing in the comic book world, but also my pitch from day one which is, ‘I want to make my Indiana Jones, my Romancing the Stone.’ And so it has shades of that and also it touches a little bit too about the other thing that I think is important in a movie like Aquaman is you kind of have to touch on the world of the environment and how that is such a big part of the reason why Orm wants to declare war is he’s finally so sick of the shit that we do in the surface world and how all that stuff literally flows down into them. I think that’s something that we can all relate to.

Can you talk about the editing process? I know there was a screening last week and that it was 2 hrs and a half.

JW: It’s not 2 and a half hours. 

The transitions between scenes including the one shots as well must be difficult to put together.

JW: It’s always hard when you have arranged specific transitions between scenes. The transitions are part of my aesthetic and stylized filmmaking. It does make it tricky--to go ‘yeah I planned to go from this scene to this scene but not we have to take this out’. I try not to let the tail wag the dog at the end of the day and let the movie be what it is, right?  If I can retain the texture of my original vision, I try to stick as close to that as I can. I think that’s the kind of stuff that once the movie is out years later, people will appreciate and go back to. Just the little detail touches that they did and I think that’s important. 

aquaman james wan jason momoa amber heard nicole kidman dolph lundgren patrick wilson willem dafoe dc 2018

The Search for the Kingdom of the Desert

In the official trailer, Mera is seen jumping out of a plane, and Arthur gives it a shrug and says to the pilot, “Redheads, you gotta love em.” It’s a great scene. This little final moment in the trailer is a blast, and if you haven’t noticed, that pilot should be a bit familiar to fans of Wan. The guy in shock that a couple of oddballs just jumped out of his plane without a parachute is none other than the writer and director of this year’s fantastic UPGRADE, Leigh Whannell. It’s always nice to see both Wan and Whannell show up in each others work.

Well what happens after the jump? The two land rather abruptly… I guess that is what happens when two super humans jump out of a plane. When they drop, she begins searching for a specific place. Mera carries with her some sort of location device that is leading them to their destination. Now when the only thing you see surrounding you is the desert, it is easy to question whether this device is actually working. And being that Mera appears to be the more level-headed and thinking of the two, she is on the correct path. It’s too bad it leads to another rough landing as they fall through the sand, and make yet another hard fall.

The dialogue between Heard and Momoa is delightful. The two actors seem especially comfortable with each other, and the sharp little insults and wordplay are splendid. Watching this reminded me of when Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner back when they played one of my favorite adventurers, Joan Wilder and Jack Colton. The chemistry between AQUAMAN’s leads is only enhanced with witty dialogue, and both having incredible charisma.

Has there been a lot of change to this film from first draft to where its at up to this point?

JW: The script? I mean things kind of progress. It’s kind of the movie I’ve wanted to tell from day one. Story points change. When things got more expansive we tried to pack in a little bit more, when things got too big we’d cull it back a bit more, or in a big way. Sometimes you go ‘we wanna go this way instead of this way’ but then end goal was always the same. We always knew going into this film that the movie is about  this and we want to get to here. It became a question of like mechanics, ‘how do we get to there and what is the most fun way and the most emotionally engaging way to get to that point?”

It great to see Jason Momoa as Aquaman again. Can you talk about crafting the character with Jason, it seems so naturally his presence.

JW: That was the most important thing going into it. I knew I didn’t necessarily want to make the whole movie with where his character left off in Justice League. I think that might be too heavy to just follow a guy who’s just kind of you know just that heaviness of it. When I first met Jason I was kind of blown away by how funny he was and how charismatic he is in person like ‘Dude, I wanna bring that into the screen. I wanna see more of you, see more of your own personality in the movie and that’s what we did. I went back to my writers and we would do things and shape the script.

We wrote it more for Jason. It actually made it easier for us to write because we’d go ‘Momoa would never say the line like this. He’s say it more like that.’ It was great because it made it easier for me to write it and ultimately it just gives the film more personality by bringing his personality out. Now Jason will always say that I took him out of his comfort zone because that’s not what he’s known for. There were few moments when I was directing him that I said, ‘Jason, you’re playing this a bit too angry’ and he’d look at me and say, ‘James this is what they paid me money to do! Khal Drogo! That’s why they paid me’ I’d say ‘Great, that’s good for Khal Drogo. We’re creating a very different character here and there will be very many moments in the movie where you’ll be able to be really tough but in this moment I wanna see you more of that light-hearted goofiness of you that is gonna service the movie well’.

AQUAMAN swims into theaters on December 21st.

aquaman james wan jason mamoa amber heard nicole kidman dolph lundgren patrick wilson willem dafoe 2018

Source: JoBlo.com



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