Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom director James Wan hopes to make movies in Malaysia one day

18 Dec 2023 05:35pm
Filmmaker James Wan during Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom - James Wan Malaysia Tour held in the Aurum Theatre at The Exchange TRX last Friday Photo by: Kousalya Selvam
Filmmaker James Wan during Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom - James Wan Malaysia Tour held in the Aurum Theatre at The Exchange TRX last Friday Photo by: Kousalya Selvam

James Wan, the acclaimed filmmaker known for his horror genre and blockbuster movies, recently embarked on a tour in Malaysia to promote the upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom movie.

The Aurum Theatre at The Exchange TRX set the stage for an exclusive interview, providing insights into Wan's experiences, influences, and the much-anticipated Aquaman sequel.

Besides movie talk, Wan also shared some details that will surely enlighten Malaysians. He expressed his desire to make movies in Malaysia one day.

The Kuching-born director said his interest came after visiting the iconic tourist attraction, Batu Caves.

"I'm not just saying this. I hope to make movies in Malaysia, especially after I have visited Batu Caves," he said adding that it was his fist time visiting Batu Caves before the promotional event.

Not to forget the local cuisines where James had his 'cravings fixed' by indulging into Laksa and the King of Fruit Durian.

"I was excited to have Curry Laksa, Hainanese Chicken Rice, durian and more," he said.

The theatre hall was full-house with fans and the media, both local and from countries like India, South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore.

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In an interview about the upcoming "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," James discussed various aspects of the film, including the growth of Aquaman's character, the challenges of underwater filming, and his cultural influences.

Aquaman's growth:

Speaking about 'Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom' James Wan highlighted the significant differences from the first film.

"The biggest difference is the growth of Aquaman himself.

"We get to see him finally being the king of Atlantis. He's also a dad and a husband juggling with a lot of responsibilities," he said.

The film explores Aquaman's journey of self-discovery and the challenges of being a reluctant king.

Character development and challenges:

James delved into Aquaman's character development, emphasising the hero's struggle with the responsibilities of kingship.

"A lot of it is about finding what he wants to do, finding what it means to be a king, what it means to be a hero.

"And a lot of times in the movie, it tells us that sometimes you have to do the things that you don't want to do, and you just got to get up and do it again the next day, even if it's not what you like to do.

"But that's what it means to be a king, to be a hero, you got to make those tough choices. And he goes on this journey with his brother, played by Patrick Wilson and together they learn about each other and learn to be better people," he explained.

The director also shed light on the challenges of filming underwater scenes, describing the arduous and taxing process of creating visually stunning yet physically demanding sequences.

"Obviously the action, underwater scenes, visual effects are fun to watch, but they're not fun to make. It's quite the opposite, it's very arduous, taxing and just difficult to plan and put it together," he said.

As the technology has grown dramatically, James shared his smooth process in curating Aquaman while enjoying the film-making process.

"In the first movie, the actors swimming underwater were all harnessed in really awkward and uncomfortable rings. But five years later the technology has grown dramatically and now I don't have to put my actors through so much torturous pain.

"Now I just put them into a booth where there's like hundreds of cameras filming them. I capture their performances and overlay it back onto a 3D version of themselves that we can create them swimming and moving and all that.

"It's really cool, it's great. It's like working with the actors but also mixing in virtual filmmaking at the same time," he said.

Horror elements in Aquaman:

Addressing the influence of horror in his films, James acknowledged his natural inclination toward scary elements.

He sees the ocean, a central theme in Aquaman, as both magical and frightening. James added that the movie aims to capture the dual nature of the ocean, appealing to those who find it wondrous and terrifying.

"I find myself just naturally inclined to just leaning towards the scary stuff even when I'm not making my scary movies.

"I've always said that, especially with Aquaman, that deals with the ocean. The ocean is two things. For me, it's very magical and wondrous but then on the other hand, it can be very scary.

"And I know there are lots of people who are terrified of the ocean so I try to play to both sides," he said.

Cultural influences:

When asked about cultural influences, James highlighted his Malaysian and Chinese heritage, citing the impact of ghost stories and superstitions on his horror films.

He expressed a desire to feature Malaysia in his future projects, reflecting his deep connection to his roots.

"I grew up with a lot of great ghost and superstitious stories. They definitely influence me in my horror films.

"It definitely inspired me to create Insidious and the Conjuring. It's just how the stories made me feel growing up and hat would scare the hell out of me.

"But I love hearing that because they also excite me and I try to put that kind of emotion and feeling back into my film," he said.

Advice for local filmmakers:

In response to a question about making a successful superhero movies, James advised local filmmakers to find the uniqueness in their characters.

"Find what is unique about your character, don't try and copy Superman or Batman," he urged. James further emphasised the importance of telling a message and finding what inspires them about the character, resonating with his own approach to filmmaking.

"Find what inspires you about this character and lean into that. We have a lot of superhero movies, but it's the unique and special ones that really kind of cut through.

"All good superhero stories have a message so don't forget to convey your message in the movie," he said.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC character Aquaman. Directed by James Wan, the film is scheduled to be on Dec 21, 2023.

The film features a star-studded cast, including Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Patrick Wilson as Orm, and Amber Heard as Mera. The antagonist, Black Manta, is portrayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

The movie is produced by DC Studios, Atomic Monster, and The Safran Company, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The budget for the film is reported to be $205 million.

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