By KHASHAYAR GHAFFARIEH
Aquaman is a 2018 superhero film directed by James Wan, starring Jason Momoa as the title character and a star-studded supporting cast of Amber Heard (Mera), Willem Dafoe (Nuidis Vulko) and Nicole Kidman (Atlanna). The film was based on the DC Comics character, spoiler alert… Aquaman, and was the sixth installment in the mostly disappointing DC Extended Universe (DCEU). This is the first time Aquaman has had a full-length feature film entirely centered around him, but the character did briefly appear in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and later appeared as somewhat of a main character in the mess that was Justice League (2017).
The plot of the film begins in 1985 as Thomas Curry, Aquaman’s father, saves Atlanna’s, the queen of Atlantis life from what appears to be a storm and an arranged marriage. Atlanna leaves Atlantis for the regular world where people cannot breathe underwater and gets injured for reasons unknown to the audience because why have a coherent plot when your movie is set in the DCEU. Thomas Curry then nurses Atlanna back to health, and they fall in love because why not, and have a kid because why not and thus, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman is born. However, after his birth, Atlanna is forced to go back to Atlantis and resume her arranged marriage with the king of Atlantis. We then jump forward into present day where Arthur Curry has a half-brother named Orm. He is trying to destroy the surface world because they put too much garbage in the sea. Mera, whose father has an alliance with Orm, then comes to the surface world to warn Aquaman, and then they go back to Atlantis to defeat Orm. Aquaman is out of his element because he did not grow up in the sea world, so Orm defeats him, but then he escapes with Mera to some desert to find a trident that has superpowers so they can beat Orm. The rest of the plot makes even less sense because it’s overly complicated for what it is, which is just a kids movie.
All anyone wanted was to have fun during the movie, and in my opinion, the film almost achieves that, but the plot is just so dull and repetitive for no reason. Aquaman is 143 minutes, to put that in perspective, Avengers: Infinity War was 149 minutes, and it was the culmination of 18 movies over the past decade and featured 22 superheroes within the main plot. Aquaman has no real build up and three superheroes. The character was only previously featured in the Justice League and Batman v Superman, so if anything, audiences were even less keen to see an Aquaman film after having to sit through the pile of garbage that is the Justice League and Batman v Superman.
Though, other aspects of the movie are actually decent such as some of the fight scenes and the on-screen chemistry between Jason Momoa and Amber Heard. I wish I could say there is something innovative about the way these scenes were directed, but the only reason anything is fun in this is the movie is the lead actor, Jason Momoa. He is just that buff; it’s just satisfying to see a guy that muscular fight in a superhero movie because he actually looks like a superhero. He doesn’t need a costume, or special effects for you to believe he can beat someone up, he is just that buff, as previously mentioned. His romance with Amber Heard was also believable because they actually complemented each other’s characteristics, like a real romantic relationship, which is truly an innovation in the DCEU.
Perhaps the best the movie has going for it is that everyone’s expectation for it was so low because of everything the DCEU had produced before its release was so bad that there really was no way for them to make a movie worse than the Justice League. Furthermore, the movie has been DC’s biggest box office success, grossing over 900 million dollars worldwide. Aquaman is a fun time for kids and somewhat tolerable for anyone over 12; which is a step forward in some sense as DC movies are usually only fun for delusional 35-year-olds living in their parent’s basement.
Aquaman has a stellar 64% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5 on IMDB. It was released on December 21, 2018.