Avast, mateys, here be Spoilers!
Last weekend, my husband and I went to the discount theater to see Aquaman. The Bartlett Tenplex gets movies about the time they come out on DVD. They charge $3 a head.
Jason Momoa doesn’t look a thing like Aquaman in the comic books or the old Saturday morning cartoon, but he did a good job as Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis and Protector of the Seas. Aquaman was created in 1941 by writer Mort Weisinger and artist Paul Norris. Weisinger may have be influenced by the song “Keeper of the Eddystone Light.”
The movie begins with the meeting of Aquaman’s parents. Tom Curry is a lighthousekeeper, played by New Zealand actor/singer Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett in SW 2: Attack of the Clones, and Cmdr. Cody in SW 3: Attack of the Clones). Nicole Kidman (Dr. Chase Meridian in Batman Forever, Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass) plays Atlanna, Queen of Atlantis. Tom finds the wounded Atlanna on the beach, rescues her, nurses her to health, and falls in love with her. She explains she ran away from an arranged marriage.
When little Arthur is about three, Atlantean soldiers come to fetch the missing queen home. She demonstrates incredible hand-to-hand combat skills when throwing them out of her home. (It was at that point I thought to myself: the heck with Aquaman. I want an Atlanna movie.) She realizes that having found her, the Atlanteans will come again. She decides to return to the sea rather than endanger her husband and child. Tom promises he will wait for her at the end of the pier every day at sunrise, to watch for her return. He faithfully keeps that pledge for years.
Cut to modern day: Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is a modern-day pirate, is attacking a Russian sub. Aquaman boards the sub, fights Manta and his crew, and is recognized by the imprisoned Russians as “Aquaman!” Michael Beach is a scenestealer in an all-too-brief role as Jesse, Manta’s father and second in command.
TV news makes a passing reference to the man social media has nicknamed the Aquaman. Tom Curry refers to Vulko training his son. I remembered Vulko from the comic book as Aquaman’s vizier and friend. We later learn through flashbacks that Vulko came from Atlantis to train young Arthur in Atlantean fighting techniques and culture. About middle school, by the look of him, and again as a teenager.
When Atlantis sank, it divided into seven kingdoms, some of which evolved in different directions, to the point where their inhabitants are mercreatures that can no longer pass as human. One of these kingdoms is ruled by King Nereus (unrecognizable as Dolph Lundgren, who’s lost weight since his He-Man days, in addition to having his hair dyed.) Nereus’ daughter Princess Mera goes to find Arthur. His half-brother, King Orm, wants to declare war on the surface world, which has been polluting the ocean. If Orm can ally four of the seven kingdoms to his side, he will be named Ocean Master, and granted great political and military power.
Mera tries to convince Arthur to depose his brother on the grounds if he claims the throne as firstborn son, he can revoke his brother’s declaration of war. Orm continually refers to Arthur as his halfbreed bastard brother, so apparently Atlantean law doesn’t recognize Atlanna’s marriage to Tom. Orm pushes Arthur into a corner, where he has no choice but to challenge his brother to personal combat. After a crowd-pleasing spectacle of a public fight,, Mera helps Arthur escape, so they can look for King Atlann’s magic trident. Their quest takes them to the Sahara and Italy. They fight Orm’s soldiers and Manta’s crew, and eventually find his ancestor King Atlann’s tomb, where only the true heir to the king can claim his trident. A character alleged to be dead turns out to be alive, and a powerful ally for Arthur.
Arthur and Orm fight again, and the firstborn son of Queen Atlanna is recognized as King of Atlantis. Given that Mera was betrothed to the King of Atlantis, rather than Orm personally, this makes her Arthur’s fiancee.
The city of Atlantis is not quite as impressive as the capital city of Wakanda, but it is impressive, a masterpiece of the special effects artist’s craft.
This was a fun movie. We got every penny worth of our three dollars. I told my husband if he wanted to, he could buy me the DVD for my birthday.
I’d rather see a Queen Atlanna movie than Aquaman II as a sequel.