Reviewed: Aquaman


Hadley Kauvar ’19

If Aquaman is supposed to be an example of DC movie making at its best, then it is no wonder that the DC Universe is completely dwarfed by Marvel. This movie is a two and half hour mess with both a plot structure that is flimsier than a three-year-old’s Lego creation and writing that is no more advanced than a third grader’s. It is just an endless collection of nonsense, bad writing, mediocre CGI, more nonsense, and a few half-entertaining fight scenes. The film’s half-hearted attempts at giving the movie a deeper and more relevant meaning (namely by including a few brief anecdotes regarding oceanic pollution) fail completely. Aquaman is a stellar example of everything that could go wrong with a superhero movie.

The film begins with overly repetitive narration by Jason Momoa, who plays the titular character, insisting that “the sea brought his parents together” and how they were from “two different worlds” along with every other cliche in the book. Aquaman’s father, Tom (Temuera Morrison), is a lighthouse keeper, who discovers an injured woman washed up on the shore while tending to his house during a storm. The woman is none other than the queen of Atlantis, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman). Eventually, they fall in love and have a child named Arthur (Aquaman). Their blissful life together, however, is interrupted when Atlantean soldiers attack the couple, causing Atlanna to abandon Tom and Arthur in an effort to save their lives.

Arthur grows up, secretly tutored in the Atlantean ways by Vulko (Willem Dafoe), a friend of Atlanna. Eventually, he becomes Aquaman, and runs around saving ships from pirates while wielding a five-pointed spear that for some reason is still called a trident. Meanwhile, Orm (Patrick Wilson), Aquaman’s full-blooded, Atlantean half brother is attempting to unite all the underwater kingdoms so he can wage war against humanity for polluting the oceans. His betrothed wife, Mera (an emotionless Amber Heard), isn’t a fan of Orm’s “human genocide,” so she plans to to seek out Arthur to dethrone him.

From there, the movie enters in to a steep decline. The chemistry between Momoa’s and Heard’s characters is nonexistent, but they inexplicably end up falling in love. Aquaman’s character development follows the path of dozens of previous films: everyone tells him that he destined to be king, he refuses, lucks into an ancient magical weapon, and winds up becoming king. It’s like Aragorn from the Lord of the Ring, but more terrible and less rational. Aragorn’s reasons for not reclaiming his throne were because of his self doubt and fearing that he was not prepared to be king. Aquaman’s reasons for not reclaiming his throne appear to be that he has more fun as a landlocked celebrity than as an underwater king. There is the thorny issue of the Atlanteans killing his mother for having a child with a human, but predictably, she ends up secretly alive and well. Eventually, the movie culminates in a lengthy underwater battle between various underwater dwellers, and Aquaman and Orm, who has taken to shouting that he is “the Ocean Master!” Obviously, Aquaman prevails, and all is good in the world. Except, of course, the fact that Orm caused tsunamis to hit every coastline in the world.

The worst thing about this movie is by far the writing. As good as the actors are, it is difficult to pull off a character with such subpar dialogue. Jason Momoa brings his usual gigantic teddy bear charm to the character, and Patrick Wilson does well as a genocidal maniac. The best thing I can say about this movie is that the underwater fight scenes were alright, albeit with some cheesy CGI. If for some deluded reason you are thinking of seeing this movie, please spare yourself the pain and go see something else.