Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – Aquaman

Summary: The world knows him as Aquaman (Jason Momoa), but others know him as Arthur, child of a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) and the queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman). But while Arthur has tried to distance himself from Atlantis, things have continued to flow under the sea as his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) wants to unite the undersea kingdoms to go to war against the surface world. In desperation, Mera (Amber Heard), a princess of one of the kingdoms, ropes Arthur into tracking down a mythical trident forged for the first king of Atlantis that will be instrumental in bringing Orm’s mad reign to an end. Thus begins an adventure across the globe and under the oceans to save the world above and beneath the waves. Make way for the Aquaman!

Summary: Aquaman is one heck of a ride, but it takes quite a bit of time to get there. The first half of the movie sets a lot of things up and I do mean a lot — seriously, they set up the ocean kingdoms, a lot of mythology, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) with his family and motivations, and much, much more for the low, low price of admission. Not to mention that I was calling almost every single plot twist, so I was feeling an undercurrent of ennui through the first half. However, once Arthur and Mera hit Italian shores, I got much more invested in the film and was willing to overlook quite a few flaws.

The whole film has a very Lord of the Rings feel to it, from Arthur’s initial refusal of the throne to traveling between exotics and visually striking locales with tons of in-depth lore present throughout. True, the story ultimately boils down to “chosen one must find macguffin to save the world,” but a tired out plot doesn’t make the movie bad. If anything, it shows that the studios were trying to avoid risks in order to reach more people and shake the stigma of Aquaman being a joke superhero, even though Aquaman is plenty powerful in the comics and he was only ever lame in the Superfriends cartoon and his joke status is only kept alive by hack comedians and Seth MacFarlane. Sorry, that last bit was kind of redundant.

The acting is a mixed bag. Momoa and Morrison are the best actors in the movie, which is part of why their scene together in a local bar was the best scene in the first half. Heard and Wilson, however, feel a bit more limited in range, the former keeping a neutral tone through the film and the latter… I’m sorry, I just don’t see him as an imposing villain. When he does his fervent war cry, I don’t buy it for a second. It’s a shame because all the pieces are there to make Orm a great villain, but the performance doesn’t quite pull them together.

One thing I really appreciate is that, unlike some DC Extended Universe films of the past, Aquaman gives its title hero a clear and well-defined arc. The beginning shows him as borderline ruthless, willing to let Black Manta’s father die because he murdered an entire submarine crew, but the end has him show much more compassion to his enemies in a truly heartwarming turn. I also appreciate how director James Wan fully embraced some of the goofier aspects of the comics. Far too often, comic book movies try and avoid the more outlandish aesthetics of the source material, hence Rise of the Silver Surfer’s misguided decision to make Galactus a giant cloud. Not here — Arthur gets to sport his traditional orange and green suit at the end of the movie and, rather than look goofy, it looks breathtakingly epic. There’s also an octopus that plays the drums in Atlantis, a reference to Aquaman’s Silver Age octopus friend Topo, and it’s as awesome as it is ridiculous.

Ultimately, the word that can describe Aquaman is “cool,” with its armored sea creatures, bombastic lead, and stunning visuals. One thing I neglected to mention is how beautiful Atlantis looks, a far cry from the dingy rock cavern in Justice League (or was that not actually Atlantis?). It’s well worth checking out, if you’re okay with a fairly basic plot. If that doesn’t sway you, then get this: Julie Andrews plays a sea monster. Thank you and good night.

Fun Tidbit: Slight spoilers, but here we go. One of the locations Aquaman and Mera is the Lost Sea, located at the center of the Earth and acting as its own habitable biosphere. Not only does this call back to a mention of Jules Verne at the beginning of the movie (Verne wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth, where said center was inhabited by prehistoric beasts like this movie), it doubles as a reference to a DC location named Skartaris, which also exists at the surprisingly habitable center of the Earth.

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