On a dark and stormy night, Tom, a lighthouse keeper, rescues a very strange woman from the sea. As soon as she revives, she starts eating his goldfish and then reveals she’s Atlanna, the Queen of Atlantis. Tom shows no surprise and soon they fall in love and have a baby, Arthur.
All too soon, the troops of Atlantis arrive to force her to return. She destroys them all with her magic trident but then realizes she can only protect her husband and son by returning and so she dives into the surf and disappears.
Arthur grows up to be Aquaman. Armed with his mother’s trident, he tries to rid the seas of pirates, all while insisting he doesn’t want to get involved. He just wants to be ordinary, he says while displaying magical powers and a gorgeous, heavily tattooed body. He is told that being a half-breed he can be a bridge between the peoples of the land and of the deep ocean, the remnants of Atlantis. He insists he’s not interested.
Meantime, he has made an enemy of a pirate called Manta. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II does a magnificent job of making Manta an interesting enemy and an almost sympathetic character. We want to see more of him than we do.
A girl from Atlantis, Mera, appears and tells Aquaman he must claim the throne of Atlantis or the world will be destroyed. He insists he’s not interested but in no time at all the two are off on a wild pursuit of the original trident of the original king of Atlantis.
Do you love the underwater? If so, you’ll love the scenes of the ruins of Atlantis, the king’s cavalry mounted on giant seahorses, the octopus playing the drums (eight arms, eight drums) and those are just the throwaway scenes.
The CGI is stupendous. You can ignore the plot (though Jason Momoa is hard to ignore) and just enjoy the scenery. It is one wonderfully imagined underwater scene after another. Well, except for the scenes involving the hike across the Sahara and then the chase across the Italian rooftops.
There are two ways to regard this movie. One, of course, is to do as some reviewers have done, nitpick the whole thing. The superhero plot is standard. Most of the plot turns are predictable. The characterization is barely there.
Or you can simply relax and enjoy the whole thing. I recommend the latter. Leave your critical faculties at the door and just enjoy.
Reviewed by Marian Powell