“Aquaman” sinks below expectations

Character portrayal heavily deteriorates movie's story

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“Aquaman” sinks below expectations

DC Comics

DC Comics

DC Comics

Eric Mizusawa, Online News Editor

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The bar was set high for this number one movie of the year, but Aquaman didn’t quite live up to its audience’s anticipations.

Released on Dec. 21, Aquaman surrounds a fictional conflict between the people of the land and the people of the sea. It depicts a setting similar to that of the Star Wars franchise, but civilizations are set underwater instead of space. The story details the life of Arthur Curry, played by Jason Momoa, and his quest to become the ruler of Atlantis.

In its exposition, the audience learns that Arthur was born from an ordinary lighthouse keeper’s encounter with the Queen of Atlantis after she washed up on shore, making Arthur the only one to be half fish, half man. This makes him responsible for promoting the land and ocean worlds. From this, the movie focuses on the effect of industrialized and material pollution on the ocean.

Sadly, not enough context is given in the start of the movie, which creates a few plot holes. For example, the source of his super strength and resistance is unclear.

The movie fails to provide much context to Arthur’s background other than the story of who his parents are. Instead of finding out the origin of the Atlantians in the beginning of the movie, their past history is described in brief bits of narration spread throughout the first half of the film.

The movie also makes it difficult to focus on one antagonist throughout the plot, which causes many parts to be quite confusing with the audience unaware of who the real enemy is at each moment. At times, the movie will seem to focus on the conflicts between Arthur and his brother, Orm, played by Patrick Wilson (who happens to be the king of Atlantis), or his journey to find the Trident to claim the title of “Ocean Master.” However, this objective gets sidetracked at times by his conflict with Black Manta, an underwater-based mercenary played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, after their first encounter in the beginning of the movie.

While strongly resembling the conflict between T’Challa and Killmonger in Black Panther, the fight scenes between Aquaman and his brother are one of the things the movie captures the best. It features great detail and camera angles to provide incredible intensity. Around the middle of the movie, for example, the fight between Aquaman and Orm paid great attention to detail in its underwater setting.

It’s easy to pick up on the movie’s numerous references to others, some of which follow a similar scheme of events as some major movies we’ve seen over the years. Aside from Black Panther, the movie subtly references Iron Man, Jaws, and several other superhero movies, so Aquaman really lacks in originality.

The acting and characters’ attitude, however, is the main reason why this movie fails to capture the hearts of its audience. The acting overall just seems ingenuine and blasé, which strongly disconnected me from the emotion each scene attempted to convey.

While the protagonist may be a likable person, the integrity of the movie becomes diminished by the way he seems to crack a joke at every possible moment. This forced humor prevents us from taking him seriously.

While its message about the pollution in the sea is rather impactful, it’s one of the only genuine aspects of the movie until the finale.

Towards the end is when things finally take a turn for the better for the audience—the plot begins to enter on Arthur’s journey of becoming the “Ocean Master,” and he is revealed as one of the most powerful DC heroes. Lastly, the ending hints there may be a sequel featuring Black Manta as the main supervillain.

While Aquaman follows an interesting plotline based on the one man who can bring peace between the land and sea worlds, its actors fail to portray their characters believably.

Compared especially to some of the other movies produced by DC and Marvel, Aquaman definitely sets the bar lower for future superhero movies we will see in the next few years.