2 Stars – Shallow
As a fan of the Marvel Universe and the DC Comics Extended Universe I was excited to see Aquaman. The battle between Marvel and DC benefits all of us who love this genre because the rivalry is pushing both to excel in their own comic-book-based worlds. However, there seems to be a tendency in the DC films to focus more on the battles than on the character development. This was seen in such films as Batman v Superman and continues this style in this latest DC film Aquaman.
Developed in the 1940’s, the origin story of Aquaman has gone through several reboots with this debut film making him the son of a lighthouse operator and the Queen of Atlantis. This unique half breed nature sets him up to become the one who can bring peace between the dwellers of land and of sea. Directed by James Wan with the help of a team of writers the cinematography is beautiful and captures the flowing nature of life beneath the sea.
The title role is played believably by Jason Momoa. Different from the fine features of the Atlantians, Arthur (Aquaman) is rough and rugged. His muscular from and his cross-breeding gives him the ability to breathe both air and water. This is an adaptability only the most elite from Atlantis possess. His mother, Queen Atianna (Nicole Kidman) and his father Thomas Curry (Temeura Morrison) created this unique child from a deep, life-long love that could not be extinguished.
Arthur’s love interest is a red-headed princess appropriately named Mera (Amber Heard). The daughter of one of the kings of the seven kingdoms of Atlantis, Mera has both a fiery demeanor and impressive fighting skills. But the tension in the tale comes from the fact that Mera is betrothed to Arthur’s half-brother who is the power-crazed villain King Orm or “Ocean Master” (Patrick Wilson). Arthur threatens both Orm’s claim to the throne and to his betrothed.
We won’t spoil how all these battles intertwine to create this tale, except to note that there are both voices of reason calling for peace and voices of anger calling for war. This is often true of conflict. War is as much a creation of those who long for it as it is the lust for power or the fear of enemies.
As is true of many current films of this genre, the message of human destruction of the environment is woven in obvious ways. This is seen not only as a judgment on the ignorance of the land dwellers as we throw our trash and refuse into the sea, but also justifies our need to be dominated or destroyed by the Atlantians. The need to live in harmony with all of creation is present among the Atlantians but clearly in a dominating way as they use their power to bring the sea creatures into their battles.
The power of love is both the beginning and ending message of the film and that is something with which we can all agree, but the battles dominate that message in tiresome ways.
When Aquaman is told that because he is half human and half Atlantian he is the one to bring peace. he does not understand why. Yet the film never really answers that question. Are those who live in two worlds capable of bringing peace just because of that experience? What more is needed for him to truly become the wise, ruling King?
Several times the disdain for arranged marriages between the children of the kings of the Seven Kingdoms is expressed. Marriage for love is praised. Do you think is there a place for arranged marriages or not?
The visual depictions of human garbage being cast by the Atlantians back onto our shores is convicting. What are you doing to lessen our harm to the environment?