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MOVIE REVIEW

Aquaman

also known as “Akvamen,” “Akvamenas,” “Posejdon,” «Аквамен»
MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Teens • Young-Adults • Adults
Genre:
Superhero Fantasy Action Adventure 3D IMAX Adaptation
Length:
2 hr. 23 min.
Year of Release:
2018
USA Release:
December 21, 2018 (wide—4,184 theaters)
DVD: March 26, 2019
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

Courage / bravery / self-sacrifice

Protecting others from harm or death

Heroes

Fantasy superheros

Mythological fantasy

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Featuring: Jason MomoaArthur Curry / Aquaman
Amber HeardMera
Nicole KidmanQueen Atlanna
Dolph LundgrenKing Nereus
Patrick WilsonOrm / Ocean Master
Willem DafoeNuidis Vulko
Djimon HounsouThe Fisherman King
Natalia Safran … Fisherman Queen
Sophia Forrest … Fisherman Princess
Yahya Abdul-Mateen IIDavid Kane / Black Manta
Temuera MorrisonThomas Curry, a lighthouse keeper who is Arthur Curry’s father
Graham McTavish … Atlan, the ancient king of Atlantis who is the ancestor of Atlanna
See all »
Director: James Wan—“Saw” (2004), “The Conjuring 2” (2016), “Furious 7” (2015)
Producer: DC Comics
DC Entertainment
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Arthur Curry’s origin story is no ordinary tale. His father, a mere lighthouse keeper, and his mother, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), the princess of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, raised Arthur on land, making Arthur half-mortal and half-Atlantean, bringing hope that one day the true king of Atlantis will unite both the land and sea.

However, unbeknownst to Arthur and his father, Atlanna was already betrothed against her will to another, and, upon first meeting, Arthur’s father, came to the land in hopes of escaping said fate. But time is swift, and the King of Atlantis never forgets, eventually tracking down Atlanna at the lighthouse. Atlanna decides, for her family’s safety, she must go back into hiding, only to return when things return to normal.

Time passes, Arthur grows, becomes stronger, more agile and, yes, a defender of the seas, in the hopes of someday being worthy enough for his mother to return to him. In fact, in the opening scene, we witness Arthur successfully halting a band of pirates, leaving them to their watery fate.

But all is not well under the sea. Tensions are high in Atlantis, especially for Arthur’s half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who currently reigns over Atlantis. Orm’s desire is to wage war upon the land for their constant abuse and destruction of the sea and its resources (pollution and the like), but in order to do so much, he must unite all the other kingdoms of the sea to build an army strong enough to finally name him Ocean Master (the commander of the seas).

Wait a second, let’s get back to our hero. Arthur is approached by Princess Mera (Amber Heard) who informs him of Orm’s plan to attack the land. She tells him that the only way to stop him is to find the Trident of Atlan (the first ruler of Atlantis), the most powerful trident in the entire world, which will prove to everyone that Arthur is the true king of Atlantis. Oh, did I forget to mention one of the pirates left to their watery fate had a son at the scene that escaped and wants revenge on Arthur?

It’s up to Arthur and Mera to find the trident, challenge Orm, and prove to Atlantis Arthur’s legitimacy as a ruler, before life on the land and in the sea is undone.

Many have stated that DC Comics will always live in the shadows of Marvel Comics when it comes to the moviemaking industry. That DC will always play second chair, while Marvel is playing first chair. Some will argue that Marvel’s films tend to have stronger story arcs, stronger character performances and more clearly thought-out, constructive action sequences. By that I mean, it has a purpose, even when it’s intense. In other words, it’s not just violence for the sake of violence, and that DC tries to attempt all of these things but ends up falling short.

On the other hand, one might argue that DC provides us characters who become heroes, that we can actually relate to with regards to their overall upbringing and development. Take Batman, for example. He came from a wealthy upbringing as a young boy, and, yet, when he lost his parents, the money meant nothing to him. Instead of turning to crime to avenge his parents’ death, he fought crime, not with superhero abilities, but through strength that he was given and his technological wonders. Aquaman, likewise, shares the familiar “horrific-past-turned-it-around” upbringing, in the sense that instead of hiding because the land would not accept him nor could he really become part of the sea, he honed his abilities, his strength and determination and defied what he was told that he could not become.

Why do I bring all this up, you ask? Because one must remember DC Comics’ first films were not “Superman vs. Batman” or “Man of Steel” (these were the DC Extended Universe), there were films such as “Batman Begins,” the “Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises” (and yes, non-Batman films before this) that many considered at par or even superior to the Marvel Films (remember, Marvel Films has only been around since 2007, whereas DC has been doing this for a while). And these films, before the DC Extended Universe existed, provided depth and development to everyday characters who would become heroes.

This brings us to “Aquaman.” With this film, as we saw with “Wonder Woman” last year, I feel that we are seeing a re-birth of the DC Film industry, a re-birth with a lot of great potential in store. It’s true that, if today, you were to read many of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes or any other meta-critic site, you would likely hear comments like, “‘Aquaman’ is all about spectacle… It’s always about trying to put the coolest, most imaginative sequence on screen at every single turn of the story, no matter what the cost.” Well, that is not necessarily the case. True, there’s a lot of action in this film, as much as you would likely see in an Avengers film, but, like I said, it has purpose, and it is specifically timed. Yes, the film uses a lot of CGI, but it is used purposefully. There are moments it strengthens the film, and moments it weakens it.

You might also read something like (and I’m paraphrasing), “the plot was messy and the story was just way too long for my liking.” Yes, there are a few moments where the plot feels disjointed, but I, for one, could follow the main objective of the story (and a film’s plot is something that I am incredibly critical about). In action film, as long as the main objective(s) are in place, that is half the battle in having a decent action film. However, I agree that the length of the film is too long, especially in the second act (about an hour to an hour and a half in). Also, the performances, even from some of the veteran actors like Nicole Kidman (who is very sadly under-utilized in this film), Willem Dafoe and Patrick Wilson, are fair, for the most part, but there are moments where they could have been better.

Objectionable Content

Violence: Very Heavy. When Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) first appears at the lighthouse, she is wounded; we witness some blood. There is a brief fight sequence between Atlanna and some guards, and she throws a sharp object through one of them (not graphic). We witness a young Arthur being bullied, very briefly. We also witness some Navy officers being shot by pirates (impacts are offscreen, but we witness one being gutted onscreen). Arthur is seen throwing a bunch of the pirates around and using various war items to fight the pirates (even an inactive torpedo). Some characters are killed. A submarine attacks and kills various sea creatures during a meeting. A submarine, with everyone in it, is destroyed. Huge tsunami waves are seen tossing two men out of a car and into the water. Wwe also witness the aftermath of the waves destruction on a town. A brief flashback shows people in peril and the destruction of Atlantis. There is a brief trident battle between two characters. Two people jump out of a moving plane and land on sand. A character is killed. A man is sliced in the back with some steel, and his wound is visible. We see one Atlantean with his hand cut off for a brief moment (shown twice). There is a scene where we witness some horrifying sea creatures (called Trench creatures) who attack. There is a prolonged, somewhat intense war sequence.

Profanity: Moderate. G*d (1), h*ll (5), d**n (2-including “d*mn you”)

Vulgarity: Moderately Heavy. Sh*t (3+), d*ck (1), sc*ew (1), a** (4), son of a b*tch (1), b*stard (2), peed (1).

Sex/Nudity: Two lead characters share two passionate kisses. Mera wears a cleavage bearing outfit. We are provided a scene where is Atlanna is pregnant, and her bare abdomen is exposed.

Other: Atlanna tries to eat a live fish whole. A character talks about missing happy hour. There is a scene involving alcohol use. There is a brief conversation regarding Evolution. Someone sticks their head in toilet water. Something that also caught my attention is when a character sees Arthur and says, “The King is Risen” (I’m not sure if that’s a jab at Christianity).

Spiritual Issues

In the movie, Arthur strives to become King of the Seas. As Christians, we know that there is only one true King and that is the Lord God. He is the Alpha and Omega—the beginning and the End, maker of all things, judge of all men. He is the one that created the seas and the lands, and it is HIM that we must bow down and glorify in all that we say and in all that we do. Even if we don’t bow down, Jesus states:

“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” -Luke 19:40

“Ask the beasts, and they will teach you [that God exists]; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you…and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. -Job 12: 7-10

God is all loving, yes, but he is omnipotent, as well. We must remember who it is we worship, who is in control:

Do you not fear me? declares the Lord. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it. —Jeremiah 5:22

Thus says the Lord…who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord of hosts is his name… —Jeremiah 31:35

Fix your eyes on HIM, not on the Earth, which offers nothing of great, ultimate value.

We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. —Acts 14:15

Slightly flawed, yet still fun to watch, “Aquaman” serves as a testimony to the capabilities and possibilities of what DC Films has to offer in the future. While there is some heavy violence and language to contend with, I still feel that, for mature older teens and adults, this film is relatively safe for viewing, although to err on the safe side, I recommend parents view the film first before bringing the teens. As always, viewer discretion is advised.

  • Violence: Very Heavy
  • Profane language: Moderate
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderately Heavy
  • Nudity: Mild
  • Sex: Minor
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I loved this movie because the visual effects are very well done. The underwater scenes make you feel like you are “under water.” The aesthetics of this film are so bright clear and brilliant.

I know that some critics have said that this film is cheesy, corny, and over the top. Well, I like cheesy, corny, and over the top. I have to admit that there are expletives and drinking in the movie. So, I would not recommend to children under 11 years old.

It is a fun movie, because it kept me laughing. The actor, Jason Momoa, keeps the character light. So Aquaman doesn’t even take himself seriously. I enjoyed watching Aquaman fighting the bad guys and rescuing people. There are funny scenes like when he is in the bar, this biker gang comes up to him. I mean I was laughing so hard. It does leave you entertained.

As far as the godlike references in this picture, it is not different from any other superhero movie that refers to them as gods. So, if you are having a problem with the godlike references, then don’t watch superhero movies. If you want to take your teenager to a fun, silly, yet lovable fantasy flick, then go see “Aquaman.” It will not rob you of your faith in God.

My biggest concern is the Mera’s cleavage and bare chested Aquaman, the drinking, and the expletives. However, the violence is typical superhero bang up and smack down, expect that in a superhero movie. I would highly recommend this for teens and adults. It is amusing. You will just laugh out loud, just see it as entertainment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Karen, age 52 (USA)
Positive—I don’t go see many movies, but this one was an exception, for it brought me back to the early seventies getting up at 7am on Saturdays to watch the “Super Friends”. Aquaman was simply my favorite Super Hero as a child, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I must say I enjoyed it much more than many of the Marvel Movies put out there. I was hesitant, because I have watched some DC comic live action stuff on TV. Those I generally just turn off, because of all the unnecessary garbage they add to it. Everyone knows, Super Hero’s don’t have time for relationships! LOL. Nothing is more idiotic than a scene with the near extinction of mankind, but we must stop and have a long romantic kiss. Anyway, I digress.

This movie was better than I expected, but wouldn’t take a child under 13 to see it simply because of how the brain develops and this kind of stuff simply can warp a child’s sense of reality.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Dow, age 51 (USA)
Positive—To me, movies fall into two categories: serious plot DEVELOPEMENT and character analysis and action/humor/fun. “Aquaman,” like Marvel movies, is a lot of fun and action with humor thrown in just like comic books. I am a Christian for 48 years, age 54 now and if you are secure in your faith you shouldn’t worry too much about being offended by these type of super hero movies. If you are, then you have other issues to deal with, like not going to 99% of what Hollywood puts out. “Aquaman” was one of the better DC efforts, second to “Wonder Woman.” Good storyline, great action, super CG. Some complain it’s too long, but I’d much prefer a longer movie. Hey, more for my money.

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s collecting comics then you should appreciate every DC and Marvel movie and how realistic they are versus the old TV “Hulk” and “Wonder Woman” from the 80s.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Eric Reinhold, age 54
Positive—After the misfire that was “Justice League,” things looked Darkseid for the future of the Detective Comics Extended Universe. Fortunately, Warner seems to have pulled its money grubbing head from the corporate sand, and allowed director James Wan free rein. And it worked. No clash of style and tone here. However, it was odd seeing Patrick Wilson in this installment, since he had previously had a minor role in “Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice;” he did a good job, though. The acting, writing, directing, etc. was top-notch, as usual.

Biblically-speaking, there is violence, with most of it bloodless, some mild and moderate profanity, refreshingly—no blasphemy (that I heard), and no sexual content.

There is a scene in the middle of the credits, just after the main credits, so don’t leave when the main credits begin. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
D, age 32 (USA)
Positive—A really fun movie. A visual treat just like “Avengers: Infinity War.” Jason Momoa was just awesome. But Amber was not only bad but also irritating with her cleavage-revealing outfit. Barring that, “Aquaman” is a fun ride.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
James, age 22 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Despite the sixty-odd percent Rotten Tomatoes rating, I decided to see “Aquaman” anyway (I’ve been wanting to see it since San Diego Comic-Con of this year). Being a Marvel fangirl for some time, this would be my first DC film since “Wonder Woman.”

No doubt the CGI is fantastic, however, Aquaman goes through some “choppy waters” in the beginning of the film, as far as script and production go. It is predictable, however, it is entertainable nonetheless. Nicole Kidman delivers an underrated performance as Aquaman’s mother, Atlanna.

Morally speaking, it’s questionable. There’s an instance of two characters having a non-marital relationship and having a child out of said relationship. The reviewer and a commenter before me have referenced spiritual language that can be construed as blasphemous.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Shannon, age 37 (USA)
Neutral—My daughter is a huge Marvel fan, but decided to give this DC movie a try. She asked to leave early. Easily 30 minutes could have been chopped off of this film. I have to repeat the sentiment of an actor/comic fan/writer that I read elsewhere and say the armor looked like Star Wars armor. For underwater creatures, why was the armor so heavy and metal? It should have been more movable, flowing, just something that would lend itself to being compatible with underwater life.

Also, this same actor (I follow his Facebook page) said Jason Momoa looked more like the character Namor. Upon looking this up, I agree. Namor is a similar type character (human dad, aquatic princess mom), but the way the character is drawn in the DC comics is much more fitting to Jason Momoa’s build and look (athletic, muscular, dark hair, arched eyebrows).

I didn’t find this to be a great film, it was just ok, too long and I didn’t feel the characters were very strong or made me root for them. My favorite part was the giant creature Aquaman brought up from the deep. I turned to my daughter and said “A Kaiju!” That elicited a chuckle from her as Godzilla and Pacific Rim creatures are deemed cool in this household. That was the best part for me. Oh, and the dad was the one character I liked the most. He was the one character I could empathize with. The others were flat.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Andrea, age 46 (USA)
Negative
Negative—Be warned, this movie is very blasphemous, in a scene a very goat like looking sea monster emerging from lava accompanies with the line “the king has risen,” and another scene the same beast emerge from the water and the line goes “hail king.” Do not watch it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Ying, age 35 (Australia)
—“Star Wars” meets “Flipper.” LOL. The cinematography was beautiful but I felt the movie was just too cheezy and dragged on and on.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Marie, age 48 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—A very nice movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Sean Cheah, age 12 (Malaysia)
Positive—My moma took my brother and I with my two friends to see this movie, and we all loved it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Charlene Kelley (USA)

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