Aquaman: A Magnificent Visual Extravaganza Let Down By A Shallow Narrative
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Based on the DC comic character of the same name, Aquaman is a superhero film directed by James Wan, starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson and Nicole Kidman in lead roles. As expected, the film is a magnificent visual feast. The CG construction of Atlantis is bound to take your breath away. But when it comes to the screenplay, the film isn’t as grand. By trying to stage the perfect undersea clash, the writers and the director fail to give the story and its characters the kind of depth such a film demands.
Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), the Queen of Atlantis is found floating towards the shore by a lighthouse keeper, Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison). Both of them fall in love and have a child name Arthur (Jason Momoa). Soon, Atlanna is forced to abandon her surface-family to return to the Atlantis and its king, with whom she later shares a son named Orm (Patrick Wilson). Arthur being a half-breed never finds a sense of belonging and acceptance at land or sea. But things change when Mera (Amber Heard), Orm’s fiance pays Arthur a visit. She summons him to fight for Atlantis and save it from the clutches of Orm whose thirst for power has led to a civil war. Arthur’s transition to becoming Aquaman and his head-to-head battle with Orm forms the crux of the story.
Be it the warm tones of the dry desert or the calm blue of the ocean, Aquaman brings alive quite an extravagant visual story. Atlantis, the kingdom underwater is constructed with meticulous imagination. From the neon jellyfish to the dazzling throne of the king, every little detail leaves you in awe. Maybe this is why the lack of a fresh perspective feels all the more disappointing. If all you expect is sub-standard entertainment thrust into a breathtakingly visual sea-world, you will not be disappointed. But if you prefer grandeur being served as a side to a solid story, you may be let down.
Aquaman holds great potential. Even though at its core, it is yet another story on sibling rivalry, just like Thor and many other superhero films, it could’ve been so much more. Take, for instance, Black Panther, it’s one line isn’t new but the angle it takes and the emotions it weaves into its unique world is what makes it appeal to the audience.
Sadly, all Aquaman is after is a mighty clash undersea. It wants an extravagant civil war under the ocean. It wants the grandest aqua soldiers to go head to head with each other being led by two mighty brothers. But none of these visual details matter if you never relate to the characters. You never get to know Arthur or Orm. The director rushes you through their lives and leads you straight into battle. The film’s character development feels awfully shallow. This is why you never get invested in their journey.
Two particular storylines that could’ve been interesting are never explored. In one scene, the waste from the ocean is shown to be thrust into the land. You expect such a scene to be followed with a meaningful foray into how dangerous and life-threatening it is to pollute water resources. But this scene is just used as a meaningless insert. In another scene, Aquaman battles a group of pirates and the repercussions of this too is never explored in a convincing manner.
As Arthur aka Aquaman, Jason Momoa is terrific. He is especially brisk and in his element in the action sequences. He seems to have stepped into Aquaman’s shoes with ease by bringing in shades of vulnerability and valor to his character’s persona. As Mera, Amber Heard is a natural. She brings alive her character’s rebelliousness with utmost conviction. As Orm, Patrick Wilson appears to be a misfit. He lacks the command, intimidation, and dominance to portray a character that is after world domination. So, his performance comes across as monotonous and conventional.
Kudos to the team behind the larger-than-life CGI. From graceful sea creatures to the chaotic action, the world of Atlantis is a complete treat to witness only due to the impeccable functioning of the visual effects team. Every frame is grand, real and truly unforgettable.
On the whole, Aquaman’s visual packaging in on point, the troubles lies in the writing and execution. Unfortunately, the saying ‘Still waters run deep’ definitely does not apply in the case of this predictable film.