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Aquaman might be all wet

But he still glistens gold at the box office

By David Josselyn

DC Comics has done it again. Not the dark, brooding disasters of their Batman and Superman stories, but rather the beautifully done “Aquaman” swims to the top mirroring the engaging story and bright landscapes of “Wonder Woman.” Of course, in relation to the DC movie universe, it isn’t hard to rise above the others. The question is, how does the movie fare on its own merit?

The Plot

The movie is an origin story for the character and tells a love story that should never happen between Atlanna, queen of Atlantis with a taste for goldfish, and Tom, a human lighthouse keeper. When Atlanna washes upon shore unconscious and injured, Tom takes her in, nurses her and they fall in love. Soon after the product of their love, Arthur, is born, the Atlanteans show up and force Atlanna to return to the sea and her promise to return sends Tom out to the end of his pier every evening waiting for the return of his true love. Arthur, meanwhile, grows up realizing he is a little different than the other kids. An Atlantean warrior, Vulko, shows up from time to time to train Arthur in the art of underwater defense akin to Eastern disciplines and gives him a trident (with four tines) as a weapon. Arthur is devasted to learn that the reason his mother has not returned is she was sentenced to death in the trench of monsters for a crime of treason – she loved a human. When Arthur learns from Princess Mera that his half-brother, King Orm, intends to wage full-out war against humans, he decides that he must go to Atlantis and do what he can to prevent Orm from his conquest.

The Good

Colors. Unlike the murky two-tone movies DC is reputed for, Aquaman brings a splash of color and bright blue skies to the screen reflecting the campy good-naturedness of the movie.

Tone. This movie is light-hearted and although fraught with peril, the current never flows into a brooding depression.

Humor. There are plenty of jokes and humorous situations in this film that keep this movie from drowning in dire plot points.

Momoa. I have been a fan of Jason Momoa since his days on the television series “Stargate: Atlantis” in 2004. He is what many men wish they were and what many women see as a perfect specimen. Aside from superficial body image, Momoa himself is a good person and his joy of life comes through in his acting.

Special Effects. Prior to seeing the movie, I viewed the trailers and thought the special effects were cheesy and second-rate. I was; therefore, pleasantly surprised to find that most of the film did not look like the trailers at all. I am a tad disappointed that the voices were not altered when underwater, but most underwater simulated voices would get irritating after a few minutes, so perhaps I am grateful they didn’t even try.

Message. The movie contained a public service announcement (PSA) about the pollutants humans toss into the sea. This reflects the old (1970s) Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends and their occasionally pauses for PSAs – nice call back.

The Bad

Death. The good news is Aquaman did not kill his villain, choosing to allow the course of justice to determine his fate, but that did not prevent thousands of sea people to die in a war that could have been stopped much earlier. After so many brothers, sisters, cousins, and distant relatives died in the war, it seemed as no consequence to the sea people because they had a king they could support instead. I felt this was disingenuous to actual emotional reactions.

Music. Superman has a theme. Batman has a theme (several, actually). Wonder Woman has an incredible guitar riff. Aquaman? Nothing. Enough said.

Tridents. Aquaman’s primary weapon and symbol of authority is a trident which is defined as a three-pronged spear. Apparently, the sea folk have trouble distinguishing three prongs from four.

Message. The sea pollutant message was a bit too much of this movie and could have been subtler. Mention it once, then get on with the plot. I understand this feeds into the motivation of the antagonist, but when it starts to feel political, you’ve gone too far.

In Summary

“Aquaman” surpasses its dark DC predecessors in tone, humor, and color palette which automatically scores higher. The movie is bathing in high box-office returns and remains at number one for at least three weeks in a row, which should be no surprise as word of mouth raises this film above the others (Wonder Woman excepted). The movie has appeal to a wide audience base thanks to its design. There were no surprises in the movie and the plot was predictable; we have seen it before, but as an introductory vehicle for the character, it does the job. The film’s plot is very similar to “Black Panther” along with an antagonist with a sympatric point of view, but with a very bad solution to the problem. The movie is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language. Although a comic-book movie, I felt the target audience skewed older, so for younger children, they would either be bored or not understand all that was going on and I believe for once, the rating is spot-on for 13 and older. I enjoyed this film; it was entertaining and fun. My friend Katy rates the film four and a half out of five fish scales. My friend Karen rates the film four out of five golden tritons. My beautiful daughter rates the film four out of five wine spikes; and my lovely wife rates the film four out of five telescopic bottles. I rate the film four out of five quattuordents.

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