A year after the forgettable events of the movie Justice League, and barely acknowledging they even happened, Aquaman is another flashback/forth story that carries the audience through the origin of Arthur Curry (AKA Aquaman). Buy it here.
The film begins with the meeting and uniting of his parents, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), the Princess of Atlantis, and a human lighthouse keeper named Thomas Curry. It quickly reflects the harsh consequences of Atlantis for the union between humans and Atlanteans. Years later, the unwillingness to accept the basis of his people towards his parents and the drastic penalty his mother faced causes Aquaman to abandon his birthright of Atlantis and live among humans.
Arthur’s life of freedom, riotous living and occasionally rescuing others from perils and dangers on the high waters, are nonconsequential compared to the major political conflicts emerging among the kingdoms in the great deep as conspiracies construed by his bitter Half-Brother, Orm Marius (Patrick Wilson). Orm’s aspirations of power through conspiracy and manipulation become critically life-threatening to the massive underwater kingdoms as well as our nations above.
Joined by an underwater princess and warrior Mera (Amber Heard), Aquaman faces many challenges in finding acceptance by his people, retrieving the magical “Trident of Atlan” and claiming his right to the throne by stopping the war being caused by Orm.
Is It Any Good? (Grade: A-)
While I expected to merely watch The Return of the King in the setting of The Gungan City on Naboo, I was thrilled by how off I was. The movie is dense with music that sets a huge variety of tones supporting characters that actually make you “feel.” Villains have motives that you can empathise with, heroes have weaknesses that make them intriguing and heroines rise strong and relevant a story of proud, muscle bound men fighting for a patriarchal throne.
As for Special Effects, The visuals absolutely emerge you into the depths of the seas. With the story taking Aquaman through waters that span across the whole Earth, many different aspects and tones of the oceans are represented. It’s thrilling to enjoy scenes of bright and vibrant environments full of life contrasted with other dark and chilling depths layered with the most frightening of sealife.
Some might say it’s too long and congested, but the nonlinear storytelling is done far better than any other movie in the DCEU. We follow all we need to know in this slightly overstuffed plot with relative ease. The story could have been spread out into maybe two movies, but this film had some pretty high stakes for DC. They may have had concerns about not getting another chance with the character so they wrapped up several storylines, while future adventures with Aquaman are clearly set up.
Is It Okay for Your Kids?
Atlanna is introduced with a bloody wound on side. A submarine captain is stabbed through the chest by pirates. A villain is impaled with pipe. Serious burn wounds on Aquaman after being struck by an energy blast. Mermaid deaths followed by floating green blood in the water. Multiple chopped off limbs leaving watery stubs. Character shot in back with taser harpoon. A bad slash on Aquaman’s back with quick but graphic spray of blood. Underwater character exposed to air and suffocating violently. Mera telekinetically creates large spears from wine and impales several guards. Snarling Scaly creatures swarming boat with dark lighting and jump scares. Ominous music. Long shot of Kiss between Aquaman and Mera, hand low on back. Use of words and phrases like “a**wooping, sh**, what a di**, bada**, screw you.”Heavy drinking in Bar in a scene with Aquaman and drunk, lively patrons. Heroes kill Atlantean border patrol officers who were just doing their job. Heroes stole a random boat and dismissed the issue by laughing it off.
Any Worthwhile Messages?
Aquaman is told “You’re living proof that our worlds can co-exist.” There was much prejudice between the Atlanteans and men. Aquaman left Manta’s father to die. Later he blames himself for Manta’s drive for revenge. Aquaman learns mercy and spares an equally important enemy later in the movie. “Sometimes we have to do what’s right, even if your heart aches against it.” Aquaman and Mera have an ongoing conversation about their own prejudgements about the other’s homes of Atlantis and the overworld and all of the evils found in both. They both conclude that “It would be wrong to judge a place I’ve never been” Aquaman is told “A king fights for his nation, a hero fights for everyone.”
For more deep-sea action, check out Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which you can rent or buy here.
Tim Wilde is currently studying film at the Salt Lake Community College. As a single father who was a failure in bequeathing his love of movies onto his children, he has taken to the internet as co-creator and co-host of Saints on Cinema, a YouTube channel devoted to discussing and reviewing film from the perspective of Latter-day Saints and other various guests.