Arthur Curry has a good life. He drinks, he parties, he talks to fish. But a threat from Atlantis forces him to deal with the undersea politics of the people of his mother, whether he desires it or not. Can Curry, known as the Aquaman wrestle the title of king of Atlantis from his younger brother and stop a potential war between undersea nations and the surface world?
Aquaman’s first blockbuster film has finally arrived and made the once super hero butt of joke a respectable and fun character to follow on land and in the seas. I had two problems with the film. One of them is no one’s fault but mine. The other one is about cosmetic issues that only matter to die hard Aquaman fans like me. He was my favourite super hero growing up.
My first problem with the Aquaman movie is that by watching all of the extended trailers and previews that there were little surprises left for me when seeing the movie at the theatre. I’m such an Aquaman fan that I knew exactly where most of the story was going. Aquaman is a super hero movie which follows a traditional formula closely. Once you are familiar with the formula, and knowledgeable about the character (in my case, about 35 years of deep knowledge of Aquaman’s history), nothing is surprising. But I cannot blame anyone for the lack of amazement. I should have steered clear of the trailers. I will avoid other super hero trailers in the future.
My second problem with Aquaman is tedious and only of interest to core fans. I dislike that only the Atlantean nobility can breathe air. This is like Marvel’s Submariner. Atlanteans of all walks have always been able to breathe air. I don’t like this caste system introduced in Aquaman’s lore. It makes sense to explain why few Atlanteans have attempted to contact the surface world, but it also reeks of the class structures that American filmmakers and the public, while staunchly republican, still marvel at royalty. Disney princesses, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Thor, and other royals, are part of this hypocritical American infatuation with royalty and nobility.
But again, my second criticism of Aquaman is more personal, nerdish, and ultimately, nothing that sheds a negative light on the movie itself. This is why I fail to understand the vitriolic response by my peers in other media about Aquaman. I have read and watched assassine comments attacking the core of what Aquaman is. Topo, Aquaman’s pet octopus was given a few seconds on camera. It was playing some drums. This is Aquaman. He talks to fish. This is a scene straight from the comics. Of course, it is silly. But this is from the source material. This is Aquaman.
Many of the other attacks against the film made fun of what the core concepts of the character is about. It’s a super hero film based on a comic book character with over 75 years of published stories. He talks to fish. Ant-Man talks to ants. One of his pet ants was called Antony. Another one plays drum in the Ant-Man and Wasp movie. These were not from the source material, but reviewers found this cute. Aquaman’s Topo is deemed stupid...
People ridiculed the plot. It’s the same one as Black Panther’s, except Aquaman’s origin predates the Black Panther's. It’s a common super hero trope. In Black Panther, this was seen as groundbreaking. In Aquaman, this was deemed silly. Often the same critics who lauded Black Panther’s basic plot, dismissed Aquaman’s.
Others dismissed Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. Momoa put his heart in this project. He was having fun. Chadwick Boseman was the most boring of the cast of Black Panther. I still liked the film very much. Critics accuse Momoa of being a bad actor, and worse. They say he has no chemistry with Amber Heard’s Mera. I’m not sure what film we were watching.
Other critics complained that we only saw brief spots of Aquaman’s past, and history. They dislike that viewers had to piece the parts together instead of being given a deep lecture of various parts of Aquaman’s past. Often the same critics complain that Aquaman was all exposition, and no showing. Apparently, it’s impossible to strike a balance. Director James Wan is being accused of performing two diametrically opposed wrongs. Who is right?
Using the defense of the natural bias against DC Comics films seems very tempting. Those people who complain about the DC Comics fans who say that films like Aquaman are treated unfairly when compared to similar fair such as Marvel’s movies never admit to any possible wrong. They dismiss any complaints immediately. They believe in their impartiality.
I am not impartial. I like all comic book movies. I have been entertained by Aquaman and my qualms with the movie were either self-inflicted or something that would only annoy a core Aquaman fan, or a republican who values liberty. Aquaman made me laugh. I don’t care if the jokes are lame in ten years. I liked Black Manta, Mera, Vulko, Ocean Master, the effects, the plot, Topo, the various creatures, the action, and the jokes.
I keep asking myself what am I missing about Aquaman that makes me oblivious to some serious faults. I’ve waited several days before writing my review after seeing the film in case I had not processed the film properly. My position has not changed though. Aquaman is an enjoyable blockbuster that’s family-friendly. I was entertained and I’ll probably go see it in the theatres a second time. I have been reviewing comics and films professionally since 2002 at ComicBookBin. Aquaman is an action blockbuster that delivered. Perhaps I am a bad critic and fail to see what is bad about Aquaman. Or perhaps, I’m okay with a goofy film about a guy who talks to fish.