Aquaman is a 2018 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the sixth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Directed by James Wan, with a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall, from a story by Geoff Johns, Wan and Beall, it stars Jason Momoa as the title character, with Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Nicole Kidman in supporting roles. It is the third live-action theatrical film featuring Aquaman, following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), and the first full-length feature film centered around the character. In Aquaman, Arthur Curry, the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, must step forward to lead his people against his half-brother, Orm, who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.
Development of an Aquaman film began in 2004, with several plans falling through over the years. In August 2014, Beall and Kurt Johnstad were hired to write two competing scripts and the film was officially announced in October 2014. Wan signed on as director in April 2015 and in July 2016 it was announced the film would move forward with Beall’s screenplay, although Wan, Johnstad, Johns and Johnson-McGoldrick all performed various rewrites. The main cast was confirmed throughout 2016 and early 2017. Principal photography began in Australia on May 2, 2017. Most of the film was shot at Village Roadshow Studios in Gold Coast, Queensland, with production also held in Canada, Italy and Morocco. Filming wrapped on October 21, 2017.
Aquaman had its world premiere in London on November 26, 2018, and was released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures in Real D 3D, Dolby Cinema, IMAX and IMAX 3D on December 21, 2018, and has grossed over $748 million worldwide, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of 2018. The film received praise for its adventurous tone, Wan’s direction and the performances of Momoa, Heard and Kidman, although criticism was drawn to the convoluted plot and the runtime.
In 1985 Maine, lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry rescues Atlanna, the princess of the underwater nation of Atlantis, during a storm. They eventually fall in love and have a son named Arthur, who is born with the power to communicate with marine lifeforms. Atlanna is forced to abandon her family and return to Atlantis, entrusting to her loyal advisor Nuidis Vulko the mission of training Arthur. Under Vulko’s guidance, Arthur becomes a skilled warrior but is rejected by the Atlanteans for being a half-breed and ultimately leaves Atlantis behind.
One year after Steppenwolf‘s invasion, Arthur confronts a group of pirates attempting to hijack a Russian Navalnuclear submarine. Their leader, Jesse Kane, dies during the confrontation while his son, David, vows revenge. David later targets Atlantis at the behest of Orm, Arthur’s younger half-brother and Atlantis’ king who uses the attack as a pretext to declare war on the surface. King Nereus of Xebel swears allegiance to Orm’s cause, but his daughter Mera, who has been betrothed to Orm, refuses to aid them and journeys to the surface to ask Arthur for help, earning his trust by saving Thomas from a tidal wave sent by Orm. Arthur reluctantly accompanies Mera to a rendezvous with Vulko, who urges Arthur to find the Trident of Atlan, a magic artifact that once belonged to Atlantis’ first ruler in order to reclaim his rightful place as king. They are ambushed by Orm’s men and Mera and Vulko escape without having been seen, while Arthur is captured.
Orm visits Arthur in captivity and announces that Atlanna was executed for the crime of having a half-breed son, blaming Arthur and the surface for her death. He offers Arthur an opportunity to leave forever, but Arthur instead challenges him to a duel in a ring of underwater lava. Orm gains the upper hand and nearly kills Arthur before Mera rescues him. Together, Arthur and Mera journey to the Sahara desert where the trident was forged and unlock a holographic message that leads them to Sicily, where they retrieve the trident’s coordinates. Meanwhile, Orm provides David with a prototype Atlantean battle suit to kill Arthur, imprisons Vulko upon learning of his betrayal, and coerces the remaining kingdoms of Atlantis to pledge their allegiance to him and his campaign against the surface.
After modifying Orm’s technology, a fully-armored David rechristens himself as Black Manta and ambushes Arthur and Mera in Sicily, injuring Arthur before being thrown off a cliff to his apparent death. Mera nurses Arthur’s wounds as they journey to the trident’s whereabouts, and encourages him to embrace his destiny as a hero. Arriving at their destination, Arthur and Mera are attacked by a legion of amphibious monsters known as The Trench, but manage to fend them off and reach a wormhole that transports them to an uncharted sea located at the center of the Earth. There, they are unexpectedly reunited with Atlanna, who was sacrificed to the Trench for her crimes but managed to escape and reach the uncharted sea, where she has been stranded ever since.
Arthur faces Karathen, the mythical leviathan that guards the trident, and voices his determination to protect both Atlantis and the surface, proving his worth and reclaiming the trident, which grants him control over the seven seas. Orm and his allies lead an army against the crustacean forces of the Kingdom of the Brine with the intent of completing Orm’s surface battle preparations. As Orm declares himself Ocean Master, Arthur and Mera, with the assistance of Karathen and the Trench, intervene and lead an army of marine creatures in battle against him. Orm’s followers renounce their obedience to him and embrace Arthur as the true king upon learning he wields the trident. Arthur defeats Orm in combat, but chooses to spare his life and Orm accepts his fate after discovering Arthur has found and rescued Atlanna. Atlanna returns to the surface to reunite with Thomas while Arthur ascends to the throne with Mera by his side.
In a mid-credits scene, David is rescued by Dr. Stephen Shin, a scientist obsessed with finding Atlantis, and agrees to lead Shin there in exchange for his help in his revenge on Arthur.
- A half-Atlantean/half-human who is reluctant to be king of the undersea nation of Atlantis. He has the ability to manipulate the tides of the ocean, communicate with other aquatic life, and swim at supersonic speeds, and possesses superhuman strength. A younger Arthur Curry is portrayed by various actors including an uncredited infant, Tainu and Tamor Kirkwood at age 3, Kaan Guldur at age 9, Otis Dhanji at age 13, and Kekoa Kekumano at age 16.
- Arthur Curry’s love interest, a warrior and daughter of King Nereus. She was raised by Queen Atlanna and groomed to become queen. Mera possesses hydrokinetic and telepathic powers that allow her to control her aquatic environment and communicate with other Atlanteans.
- Atlantis’ counselor, who was a mentor of Arthur Curry when he was young. He trained him to fight as well.
- Arthur Curry’s Atlantean half-brother and ruler of Atlantis, who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms to declare war on the surface world out of the belief that humanity polluted the seas.
- The king of the Atlantean tribe of Xebel and Mera’s father, who allies with Orm.
- A ruthless pirate and a high-seas mercenary with a flair for creating deadly technological innovations.
- The Queen of Atlantis, mother of Arthur Curry and Orm.
Additionally, Temuera Morrison portrays Thomas Curry, a lighthouse keeper who is Arthur Curry’s father; Graham McTavish portrays Atlan, the first king of Atlantis and the ancestor of Atlanna, Orm, and Arthur; Ludi Lin portrays Murk, the Captain of the Men-of-War, the frontline army of Atlantis; Randall Park portrays Dr. Stephen Shin, a marine biologist obsessed with finding the lost city of Atlantis; and Michael Beach portrays Jesse Kane, a member of a group of pirates and David Kane’s father.
Djimon Hounsou, Natalia Safran, and Sophia Forrest play the Fisherman King Nicou, the Fisherman Queen, and the Fisherman Princess respectively, whom Orm creates an alliance with as part of his plan to unite the seven kingdoms of the sea where the former provided the voice of King Nicou. Leigh Whannell, Wan’s long time collaborator, appears in the film as a plane pilot, while Julie Andrews provides the voice of Karathen, a mythical leviathan that allies with Aquaman. While Andrew Crawford provides the motion-capture of King Nicou, he also provides the motion-capture of the Brine King, who is voiced by John Rhys-Davies.
Lacking the comedic charm of Ant-Man or Dead Pool (even though they tried for it) and relying on a mostly “B-rate” cast (ie: Willem Defoe, and Dolph Lundgren) this was by no means as good as many of the other “comic book movie” upgrades. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a few hours of awesome visual effects and far fetched action and adventure. There were two distinct story lines that could have been two separate movies, and that detracted from the film. I’ll give it 4 stars and leave it at that, because I know you are going to see it, as you should. We saw it in IMAX and it was worth the extra cost of the tickets. – MR
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