I watched the ‘Man of Steel’ with a lot of expectations.
Same with ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’. Both these films ended up disappointing, therefore, I trusted the critics who said that ‘Justice League’ is a mediocre film. One of the reasons why I found the two films less appealing, apart from shallow storytelling, over-reliance on slow-mo shots, montages, and melodrama, is the visual effects. The films literally made me hate CGI and it reminded me to bow before the supervisors who created perfect practical effects in the ’80s and ’90s.
Apart from that, ‘BVS Dawn of Justice’ and ‘Justice League’ was DC’s epic fail in terms of catching up with the Marvel cinematic universe. Marvel created the world with ten years in the making and DC only gave Wonder woman and Superman their backstory before Justice League. We didn’t get the chance to know Batman well, except that you have to use the codeword ‘Martha’ in order to escape from his wrath.
‘Wonder Woman’ is great as a film but faced its share of criticisms in the final fight sequence. ‘Aquaman’ had plenty of CGI but in a way, it redeemed the DCEU. And, the film also serves as an example of perfect casting and depiction of women in a male-centric film.
The film shows three events. Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) coming to the land and having a baby with a human. Her going back after realising that she might put her partner and child in danger. Arthur’s ability to speak with fish and his endeavors as an adult superhero. As the continuation of ‘Justice League’, we see Mera coming back to Arthur, asking him to go back to Atlantis. The story continues from there.
I can’t think of a perfect casting of a superhero other than Jason Momoa as ‘Aquaman’ and Amber Heard as Mera. Of course… Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Krysten Ritter, Danai Gurira, Guardians of the Galaxy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Keaton and all were all game, no doubt about it. They deserve applause for their interpretation.
When I saw Momoa in ‘Game of Thrones’, I knew that the gentleman is born to play a superhero. Lo and behold… I was right!
Momoa is flexible, strong, stylish and brings eyeliner to fashion trend for men. His performance as Aquaman makes him tremendous, you believe that he is the next big king. And, he resembles the common interpretation of ‘Poseidon’ and the original comic books. Amber Heard need not be a person who had impressed us with her acting skills. Personally, I despised her performance in ‘Drive Angry’ and ‘London Fields’ but she nailed it in this film with the depiction of her superpowers and grace. Heard remind me of the comic book version of Mera with her red hair and appearance against the blue water.
Patrick Wilson gave a compelling performance as the Ocean master. I liked the moment where he says that he does not wish to fight his half brother and that Arthur should be out of his way. We see a sense of disappointment in his eyes when Arthur stands in his way. And, he lets out his war cry on multiple occasions. Willem Dafoe gave his standard performance. We will admire his character as a teacher everyone would like to have as opposed to the stereotypical villain role we are used to seeing him in. Or that scary look from ‘Speed 2’ will simply scare one more than Valak.
It was a pleasure to watch Nicole Kidman in an action role. She herself accentuated that in her Instagram where she revealed that her two daughters were thrilled to see Atlanna’s action scenes. She is a versatile actress who can carry the films on her shoulders. At the age of 51, she did her own stunts and it is fresh change ’cause she played a love interest turned damsel-in-distress in ‘Batman Forever’.
I expected the film to follow the same-ish sexist process of having female characters who are reduced to ‘love interests’ or sidekicks. Even if there are kickass women, there will be extra shots of their body parts. ‘Aquaman’ is the one example I could think of in terms of how to depict women in a male-centric film, especially superhero films.
Atlanna escaped from an arranged and lived a romantic life with Thomas Curry. She protected her family from external forces by choosing to leave yet she promised that she will return. Arthur himself narrated that his father used to go by sea and wait for Atlanna’s return for the year. For Atlanna, it was a matter fighting for what is right and knows that Orm cannot be the rightful heir to Atlantis.
Neither Atlanna nor Mera is reduced to their sex appeal, which is a usual trope in action flicks. The costume department ensured that both women looked attractive and sexy but more than that, it is their personalities that stand out. Atlanna’s eccentric yet courageous nature and Mera as a feisty rebel. Mera makes her own decisions and chooses for herself on what path she should go on. She is the one who shows Arthur the right way to fight, which is not to put himself before Orm’s ability to overpower him, including the kingdom’s inability to accept him. Mera was with Arthur should-to shoulders in their mission to retrieve the trident. She showed the way and made choices. She also fought her way through many obstacles, including at the trench.
Arthur is a powerful person and strongly built hero. He is aggressive but not toxic. And, his masculinity is not defined by reducing his female counterparts to his inferiors. Arthur and Mera have their own set of skills and talents. Arthur’s physicality, virtue, and his ability to control marine creatures along with Mera’s water bending powers and rebellious nature make them a duo.
There is one moment from the movie that was probably put in by the writers to make the audience think. The movie begins with Arthur rescuing a submarine from pirates. At one point, he leaves one of the men to die despite his son’s pleading. He vows revenge and even shows up later as a powered person. So, does that give to show Aquaman’s greyness or more development in terms of how felt when he made that decision?
Aquaman was a huge relief after seeing the previous flicks made by Zack Snyder. That being said, the film is not perfect and did not come close to the depth Wonder woman gave. And… there is scope for more.