‘Aquaman’ surprises audience with unexpected outcomes

Thousands of innocent families run in fear as they try to get away from a giant tidal wave caused by a tsunami that towers over them and causes catastrophic destruction to thousands of homes along the coast of Maine.

aquaman-jason-momoa“Aquaman” is a DC film directed by James Wan and stars Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry, who discovers that he is the rightful heir to the underwater kingdom called Atlantis.

However, to obtain his right to the throne, Curry must fight his half-brother, Orm, also known as The Ocean Master, played by Patrick Wilson, because Orm also wants that kingdom under his rule and tries to bring a war to the surface world. To stop him, Aquaman goes after the all-powerful trident, alongside Mera, played by Amber Heard.

I have followed Wan’s career as a director and have enjoyed many movies he has directed, such as “Saw,” “Insidious,” and “The Conjuring,” among others. I was curious to see how he would bring Aquaman to the big screen, because this particular superhero doesn’t necessarily  have the same reputation as some of the more iconic characters in the DC universe.

Wan created a very self-aware film that’s purposefully over the top and throws everything on the screen in a gigantic explosion of underwater entertainment and pure enjoyment. I think it is a very entertaining movie, and I am surprised to say that.

The trailers that I had seen did not really impress me as much as I had hoped. I was concerned about the overuse of computer-generated imagery (CGI), but I have to give kudos to all the visual effects designers who have worked on the film because the work that is on display is very impressive.

The film is so colorful and beautiful, ranging from the colors of the ocean and the creatures within, to even the costume design. It is a very bright and vivid film. I’d also say that Momoa is perfect casting for this movie. I really cannot imagine anyone else as this character after having seeing him as Curry.

Momoa plays a simple character who originally doesn’t want to be king, nor does he feel qualified to be the king of Atlantis. Throughout the film, Curry undergoes a trial of character to see if he’s worthy of the trident while braving the undersea kingdom of the monstrous Trench to arrive at the Hidden Sea at the Earth’s core. Here, he not only finds the tomb of the legendary Atlantean King, Atlan, but also Arthur’s mother, Atlanna, played by Nicole Kidman, who was long believed to be dead.

Momoa is clearly relishing every minute he has on screen, and he brings so much physicality to the action scenes, which Wan has taken a unique approach to. From all of the hand-to-hand combat scenes to the underwater battles, it is very distinctive. All of the fight scenes are in wide shots. You can see everything that is going on. This is some of my favorite action that I have ever seen on film.

For a movie that I wasn’t really anticipating all that much from, I found myself really enjoying how purposefully humorous this movie is. Wan also did a great job of helming all of the action scenes.

Some scenes felt rushed, so the narrative and pace of the movie suffered as a result. I don’t mean to say that I felt parts were boring, but some scenes weren’t structured as properly as they could have been.

For instance, there are so many emotional scenes at the beginning that were intended to hook the viewers into the heartfelt part of the film. There was an attempt to get deep into the backstory of Aquaman when he was a child, but it felt incredibly rushed and then pushed off to the side. I think the first act of the movie started off a bit rough, but it starts to pick up the pace and get a lot more entertaining once the the main mission starts.

However, I felt there were many lessons to be learned throughout the movie. Many of these lessons take place when looking at the relationship between Curry and Mera. Because the two come from completely different worlds, they both realize during the course of their journey that there is a way for their worlds to coexist.

Even though Curry thinks his mother is dead for a majority of the film, he harbors his resentment toward Atlantis for killing his mother. He ultimately learns not to judge the entirety of Atlantis on the actions of one man. Mera learns that the surface world is a place that is worth preserving.DSC_2831.dng

Many viewers could also argue that ultimately it is a romantic-action movie, but I wouldn’t consider it to be romantic at all. Like in most action movies, it does not rely solely on saving ‘the damsel in distress.’ Rather, Mera saves Curry in a way. The two characters go on an adventure as equal partners, and I think the movie ends on that same note. Of course, there is an element of attraction here and there, but that is not the driving force that brings them together. It’s their equal desire to save both of their worlds that unites them.

This is the fifth time Wilson has worked alongside Wan after the two “Conjuring” and “Insidious” films. Although I think Wilson does a decent job of acting in “Aquaman,” I think his character could have been more fleshed out.

He seems like a cliche villain. However, the conclusion for both Aquaman and Orm did surprise me. But the character that Wilson played has the same motivation that has been seen a thousand times before in other action movies. As a physical presence, though, I thought Wilson was perfect for the part. I also liked how Aquaman wasn’t perfect in this movie. He loses a lot of battles, specifically to Orm and Black Manta, who is played by Yahya Abdul-Manteen II.

Seeing him develop as a villain in this movie was interesting to watch, and Wan did a great job of setting up the events of how he became evil. Getting to see Black Manta’s backstory and how he obtained his weapons with the help of Orm as an attempt to take down Curry was intriguing. Wan also did a great job of portraying the guilt that Aquaman feels for killing Black Manta’s father at the beginning of the film. I feel these are some of the best moments in the movie.

  “Aquaman” is a must-watch for DC superhero lovers, or those who want something fun and entertaining to watch. I give “Aquaman” a nine out of 10.

Author: Kaitlyn Hyde

I am a Photojournalism major at SPC from the Houston area. Photo Editor for the Plainsman Press, this is my first semester working on the staff.

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