'Aquaman' Review: Star Wars Under the Sea
Aquaman Hits the Movie Screen With a Splash!
Aquaman, the latest DC Universe entry, brings to the forefront a character that had appeared only in supporting roles in earlier films.
Here he stars in a movie that tries to explain his origin while at the same time tell a tale of dueling empires and court intrigue while introducing new worlds under the sea. The result is a movie that runs almost two-and-a-half hours. Convoluted at times, the movie is saved by some great action sequences and the sheer charisma of the two main actors, Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Amber Heard as Mera.
The tale begins with Aquaman's human father and his Atlantean mother meeting decades ago, producing Arthur Curry, Jr., the young baby who would later grow up to be Aquaman. Nicole Kidman has taken some heat for playing Aquaman's mother, with critics pointing out that she is only 12 years older than Momoa. That's so ridiculous -- it's a superhero movie, for crying out loud! Does anyone expect strict reality?
(I will say Kidman looks gorgeous in the movie. So good, in fact, that I thought they had used some de-aging technology on her sequences. But I haven't found any confirmation of that.)
After a short sequence of young Curry at an aquarium that reminded me of the scene in the first Harry Potter where he went to the zoo and discovered his powers, the film jumps to the present time.
A submarine is being hijacked -- remember, this a comic-book movie -- and Aquaman comes to the rescue. It's great, fun action and shows the hero at his brash best. It also introduces us to one of the movie's two main villains, Black Manta.
Back on the surface, Aquaman is relaxing with his father when the movie's female lead, Mera, arrives to warn him his half-brother, who rules Atlantis, is uniting the various kingdoms and plans to attack the surface world. The only way to restore peace is for him to return with her and his assume his proper role as king.
The rest of the movie becomes a fairly conventional -- some might say formulaic -- quest story, with Aquaman facing various challenges until he finally earns his rightful place on the throne. Along the way numerous undersea empires and creatures are introduced, the heroes get into a variety of fights and Aquaman overcomes his doubts about whether he is worthy of the crown.
Aquaman and Mera, A Charismatic and Sexy Couple
One of the best things about this movie is the interplay between the two main characters. Both have screen presence and charisma to burn and they played off each other very well.
I really got the sense that the characters were truly attracted to each other and belonged together.
I do think that Momoa could have been a bit better served by a script that kept his character fluctuating from brashness to doubt. He carries himself easily when acting like he could tackle anything thrown at him. But the script kept calling for him to say how much he doubted he was worthy of the crown, and those scene (of which there seemed to be many) weren't as convincing to me.
It's interesting that Mera's background was changed from the one she had when I read comic books as a child. When she debuted, she was an alien from another world, which is why she has powers that no one else in Atlantis has. I don't know if they changed her past in the comic books, but in this movie she is a princess from another undersea kingdom. I'm glad they kept her magical power to control liquid, since that made her a worthy protagonist alongside Aquaman.
Heard is strikingly beautiful as Mera and looks great in her form-fitting costume. A scene where she and Aquaman kiss underwater was very powerful.
One small nitpick about Heard, though. Momoa towered over her since he is nine inches taller. In the comic books of my youth, Mera and Aquaman were always portrayed as the same height, emphasizing that they were equals. Granted, it would have been hard to find a woman as tall as Momoa, but it did seem strange when Momoa and Heard were standing next to each other.
Get a Taste of the Movie from the Aquaman Trailer!
Too Much Star Wars and Weird Characters: The Movie's Main Drawbacks
The movie faltered whenever the focus was on Aquaman's half-brother and his plan to unite the underwater kingdoms and invade the surface world. While Atlanteans and Mera's people looked human, the other kingdoms were populated by creatures that looked like rejected designs from a Star Wars movie. The inhabitants of the Kingdom of the Brine (I think) came across as silly looking crab-like men.
And while seeing men ride large sea horses was cool, many of the creatures just didn't seem realistic at all. In the climactic battle, one even reminded me of an underwater Godzilla.
Overall, I liked the movie and I think DC fans will enjoy it. I would place it above the recent Justice League, but below Wonder Woman.
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