Anthony's Film Review—'Aquaman' (2018)
The action is great as expected, while the story is a lot better than I expected...
Aquaman is another one of those comic book superheroes that presents a protagonist unlike others than have been created before. We've seen superheroes with the ability to fly (Superman), change in size (Ant-Man), wield advanced crime-fighting technology (Batman and Iron Man), open portals at will (Dr. Strange), and wield great strength, even as a female (Wonder Woman). We have also seen a variety of settings with these past superheroes, mainly on Earth or elsewhere in the universe. Aquaman, a DC Comics creation, presents a hero who is not only superhuman in strength, but also aquatic, with the ability to breathe underwater and swim very fast. Naturally, this leads to the main setting of the ocean depths, where the city of Atlantis once ruled the seas. Both the character and the primary setting of Aquaman make this superhero action-adventure movie rather refreshing.
As with many stories, the beginning of this one starts with the origin. Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) is the Queen of Atlantis who flees her underwater kingdom and ends up seeking refuge with Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison), a man living on the coast of Maine. The two fall in love and produce a son named Arthur. However, after an unexpected encounter with Atlanteans, it is revealed that Atlanna had fled an arranged marriage she disagreed with and now has no choice but to return. Tom has no choice but to say goodbye and take care of Arthur on his own.
You would think that the origin story continues immediately after. Instead, it jumps straight to the present day with the grown-up Arthur now embracing his superhuman powers. That doesn't mean the rest of the origin story is ignored. In fact, the writers did something smart. They incorporated other parts of the backstory as flashback scenes placed at certain moments in the main story. What I like is how those flashbacks occur at just the right time. Why? Because a certain action in the present provides a smooth transition to the past, and the last action in the flashback instantly, but almost seamlessly brings the audience back to the present.
The plot of this movie centers on a villainous Atlantean king named Orm (Patrick Wilson). He is disgusted by the humans on the land surface because of their habit of polluting the oceans and killing marine life. Obviously, you could have a bit of sympathy for this character, especially if you're an environmentalist. But there's more. He has a deep-seated hatred for his half-brother Arthur because he is half-human half-Atlantean, a half-breed as he puts it, and chooses to ally with the humans on land. All of this motivates Orm to gather an army that will be powerful enough to defeat the surface.
As for Arthur the Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), he is informed that he is the true heir to the throne, but he has to prove it. To do so, he has to seek a legendary trident that the first king of Atlantis possessed. The trident's whereabouts are a total mystery, and he is only given a few cryptic clues that will point the way. But he isn't alone on this quest. Two characters from King Orm's inner circle, Lady Mera (Amber Heard) and the vizier Vulko (Willem Dafoe), harbor concerns about Orm's power-hungry ways and risk their lives to secretly help Arthur on his journey.
The action in this movie is great as you may expect. Although countless action movies with heavy special effects have been released, I didn't get terribly bored with the action here. Part of it may be due to the fact that none of the action is pointless. It's all related to big plot developments here and there. Also, some of the action occurs in interesting places. One of the best action scenes is a long sequence in a certain exotic European location. Of course, it doesn't beat the climax, which is so eye-popping that I would easily describe it as a marine aquatic version of Star Wars.
I thought I'd be tired of superhero movies by now, but I guess I'm not there yet. It's like what I somewhat hinted earlier. You need to keep the superhero action movie fresh by introducing something that we haven't seen yet. Thankfully, Aquaman succeeds in that. It takes into a world that is far away and mysterious, yet right beneath the real world that we experience each day. Will there be a sequel? Absolutely, based on how it ends. Once that hits theaters, I'll be asking the same question: Does it offer anything new? Obviously, I don't know how the sequel will turn out, but I can at least make that statement about this movie. Aquaman is, indeed, something refreshing.
Anthony's Rating: 9/10