[Disclaimer: I am an aggressive Marvel fan, and in all fairness, probably should not have been allowed to review this movie. My phone lock screen is a high quality .png pic of Tom Holland, and I am writing this on my laptop with a Captain America sticker while sitting in my Spider-Man onesie.]
Imagine a whale in the ocean. Said whale rises to the water’s surface to enthusiastically breach (I had to google this, but for those who are not zoologists, this is when the whale blows water out its top). In a brief show of strength and promise, the whale sends water shooting toward the sky. But then the whale gets tired. Now a flimsy trickle of water pathetically drip-drops until the whale is done and retreats below the surface.
This is how I describe Aquaman (2018): energetic and exciting in the beginning, but ultimately an embarrassing display of might.
Part of DC Comics, Aquaman tells the origin story of the titular hero (played by a hunky Jason Momoa) before he became a member of the Justice League. Packed with humor (although most of the time the audience seemed to laugh at the movie and not with the movie), Aquaman essentially compiles a slew of mini adventures and tests through which Momoa must prove himself worthy. Fun! Exciting! But nothing new.
As I watched, I noticed a glowing in the seat beside me—my plus one had her phone out and was keeping a list of movies of which Aquaman reminded her. So, I thought, since I brought her here, I could ~ethically~ steal her list and turn it into a bad review. (Happy holidays, Anna!)
Was Aquaman meant to be a real-life cinematic history and an on-screen hero’s quest? I doubt it, but anywho: Here is a list of movies that made Aquaman possible. Like days of Christmas, there are 12:
- Harry Potters 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (parts one and two): See the Chamber of Secrets, the Grindylow, Dumbledore’s hydraulic magic at the Ministry of Magic, and the bony creatures protecting the locket in Half-Blood Prince (2009).
- Moana (2016): Both have large, tattooed men and similar beginnings, as does the movie Smallfoot (2018), but that’s neither here nor there.
- Thor (2011): Like Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Aquaman must figure out his strengths. What is he worth without his hammer (read: trident)? Is the sea Thor’s thunder in this metaphor? I think so, although I must admit even I am slightly off-put by this intricate analogy.
- The Little Mermaid (1989): And this is not just because of the red hair as seen on Amber Heard’s character or the prevalence of tridents or underwater shipwrecks.
- Tron (2010): I personally have not seen this film, but I am told by my plus-one and source of this genius list, Anna Gloor, that it is a live-action movie and has a similar structure and vibe.
- Star Wars: For obvious, epic reasons. Also see the white suits worn by the storm troopers, oops, I mean antagonists, in Aquaman.
- Pinocchio (1940): Because there are at least two direct Pinocchio references. (Is this fair? Does this even count? I don’t care.)
- Ant-Man (2015): The red and gray bug-eyed suit of Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Manteen II) seemed oddly familiar. Significant? Coincidence? I think not! @TheLawyersOfMarvel
- Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Aquaman tried to exude a funky vibe with the help of some rocking tunes, but it did not incorporate music into the film as successfully as Guardians did. Furthermore, the colors and world-building of Aquaman seemed reminiscent of Guardians, though not as imaginative, I am not sorry to say.
- Atlantis (2001): Again, for obvious reasons that I don’t care to get into because that would involve more plot details, and honestly the plot of Aquaman is not one I can easily synthesize here!
- Jurassic Park (1993): At one point, dinosaurs enter the picture, and that is all I will say on the matter.
- Narnia: See Nicole Kidman’s hair.
Thank you and goodnight.
P.S. Anna, if you’re reading this, let’s talk.