Aquaman

Starring Jason Momoa as Aquaman aka Arthur Curry, the titan of the Seven Seas and the ruler of Atlantis.  Warner Brothers brings to moviegoers the origin story of one the secondary characters of its DC Comics superheroes.  Aquaman, senior member of the Justice League and often a pillar of strength and wisdom for Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, the Flash and Wonder Woman in their fight to protect our planet.  Jason Momoa is joined by Nicole Kidman (three times Oscar nominated; Rabbit Hole, Moulin Rouge, Lion; and one-time Oscar winner for The Hours) along with Willem Dafoe (twice Oscar nominated for Platoon and Shadow of the Vampire), and with Amber Heard (Justice League, The Danish Girl, 3 Days to Kill) in a film directed by James Wan (horror film maestro for Saw and The Conjuring) and co-written by DC Comics famed author Geoff Jons.


 

AQUAMAN MOVIE REVIEW

Aquaman is truly one of the lesser developed characters for comic book fans.  In fact Robin, sidekick of Batman, has had far more numerous comic book issues and TV shows tagged to his name.  The most recent instance we had a recurring look at Arthur Curry was within the decade long series Smallville, where Tom Wellington aka Clark Kent/Superboy had the occasion of teaming up with Alan Ritchson (who is currently starring as Hawk in Titans).  Ritchson imbued the character with a similar sense of joviality and carelessness that Momoa currently uses to portray the same character on the big screen.

The difference between the two actors is that Momoa is bigger, both in frame and in age.  And Momoa’s personality is both gruff and affable so his version of Aquaman is more than a little distant cousin of Ritchtson’s.  He looks much more like The Hulk than a sleek surfer Aquaman and that’s fine because the story is physically very demanding and Momoa is more believable as an oceanic force of nature.

 

THE BASIC PREMISE - ACT ONE

The adventure starts off in an unidentified part of the world (well OK supposedly in Massachussets) where a lighthouse keeper discovers and saves the life of crashed survivor from a storm.  The survivor in question is Queen Atlanna who falls in love with him and gives him a son.  After years of living together as a family in the lighthouse, Atlanna’s royal guards show up and practically force her at gunpoint to return to Atlantis.  Well not exactly but I wont spoil all the surprises and plot points for the viewers in a movie review.

Arthur grows up without his mother and far away from Atlantis, unaware, as is the rest of the world, of what is brewing underneath.  Like the Amazons, and Wonder Woman, the Atlanteans do not reveal themselves to humans on the surface of our planet, despite the fact that the humans way of life has severely eroded the very ecosphere of Atlantis and all of the sea creatures living in it.

In the preliminary round of the war between sea dwellers and surface humans, King Orm summons a gigantic wave the likes we have seen in movies like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, which slams the Eastern coasts and dumps mountains of human trash and waste that had been piling up in the oceans.

The depiction is both amusing and frightening, for reasons that are external to the film and anchored in the reality of environmental damage and how media pundits typically react in self-defense never once acknowledging the horror or extent of damage we are doing to the planet.  It is amusing because on the screen it looks as if the ocean just belched an unspeakable amount of trash back at the very source that is blithely trashing our oceans.

 

AQUAMAN EMERGES - ACT TWO

From the second act where Aquaman appears as an adult intercepting a pirated Russian submarine, we see him exhibit superhuman strength on the scale of Superman and Wonder Woman.  Can you guess what the problems are in this sequence?  We’ll discuss them at length in the Members Only edition of this review. 

Let’s just say while the opening act of Aquaman’s real power on display is highly entertaining it is also loaded with two major lapses that are synonymous with the kind of errors Warner Brothers overlooked in Batman v Superman.

An interesting issue is the amount of power needed to rapidly lift a massive submarine from the bottom of the ocean to the surface, that kind of power concentrated at a tiny point on the hull would facture the hull in half and the rapid rise would cause the submariners the bends.  But none of these issues factor in the startling and entertaining sequence as Aquaman makes his entrance and debut in full spectrum Poseidon style.

Another problem in this sequence is the amount of power needed to speed lift a massive submarine under a ton of water very quickly is so enormous, would someone like Aquaman really get knocked off his feet by an explosive shell fired from a heavy rifle?  No way!

The power his body can wield and withstand is off the charts unfathomable and he could probably take a tomahawk missile hitting him in the chest and still not feel it.  From the get go, the filmmakers are careless and inconsistent in the manner they are depicting their superhero’s titanic abilities.  These are the very same issues with the manner in which Warner Brothers filmmakers portrayed Superman in previous movies and more recently in the TV show Supergirl.

One instant our hero can shatter an entire planet with his bare fists the next he is so slow he cannot evade a Kryptonite gas canister fired from a traditional rifle. The Man of Steel has enough speed to match the Flash and to break the Time Barrier and interdimensional barriers, a person who can move so fast he can be in five different places at the same time.

What is interesting in Aquaman is that the backstory from the comic books suggests that Atlantis and Atlanteans are sons of Poseidon, God of the Seas, they are demi-gods and the other face of the coin where the Amazons are daughters of Zeus.  Both Amazons and Atlanteans are essentially vested with god-like powers and are nearly immortal, indestructible.

Yet in this movie, in repackaging the origins of Aquaman we discover no connection between Atlantis and Poseidon, gone is the mystery of ancient gods and the connection of Atlantis to Amazonia. 

Why is this an issue?  Once more, we will discuss this angle at length in the Members Only version.  But let it be known the screenwriters commit another big boo boo in what could have been a far more polished adventure.  Either liberties were taken to create a more powerful spectacle or possibly in the interest of creating a more “original and spiffy” Aquaman.  The results are a little confusing to the viewer who attempts to connect the movie to the preceding films from the DCEU.

It doesn’t matter that none of the Justice League colleagues are not featured in this adventure, we don’t see anyone in a brief cameo, not even The Flash or Cyborg.

I was not hoping for Superman nor Wonder Woman even though Mera brings up the defeat of Steppenwolf in a conversation with Aquaman (see our Justice League review for context).  It’s too much to hope for anything like that even though Marvel has been at it for more than a decade doing crossovers and cameos up the wazoo. 

As for Warner Brothers?  They have been doing crossovers with their superhero TV shows for almost five years now.  The studio could not have included a clause in Cavill’s or Gadot’s contracts for franchise cameos when they signed them on? 

The Justice League is alive and well in this timeline and yet not once does Aquaman think of contacting someone like Superman or Wonder Woman as the impending battle about to be waged by Atlantis could inflict enormous damage to the entire planet.  Add to the ire of the moviegoer, Arthur is constantly reminding Mera he IS NO KING OR LEADER. He is just a happy go lucky guy.

How does a happy go lucky guy contemplate taking on an entire, thus far unknown kingdom, with unknown capabilities who is about to declare war on the world?

So what other problems did this movie reviewer identify Aquaman?  Several more to be enjoyed in the Members Only version.  But just to wet your appetite how about this little doozy?