I just watched Aquaman with Native Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa as the self-proclaimed halfbreed human and Atlantian. The movie was filled with fantastic and amazingly choreographed fight scenes that were more than satisfying.
Director James Wan (who also directed The Conjuring) truly delivered a movie based upon a fun-filled comic book character come to life — who has had more than his fair share of ridicule over the years as DC’s worst superhero.
How has the Aquaman movie done so far?
Pretty dang good. Variety has already reported that Aquaman is slotted to generate a reported $70 million dollar opening weekend tagged on top of the over $332 million from the international markets where the film was released earlier than this weekend in the United States. Aquaman is wildly popular in China, which generated a reported $209 million in its first two weeks.
But did the movie deserve all this success? My simple response is yes.
Wan put together a heck of a show and the star-filled cast delivered, even within the overly dramatic moments. The list is long with great performances from Willem Defoe as Aquaman’s mentor, Amber Heard as Aquaman’s love-interest Mera, Nicole Kidman as Atlanna, Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus and Temuera Morrison as his human father. It was refreshing to see some fun moments between real-life indigenous actors Momoa and Morrison. Morrison is an acclaimed New Zealand actor.
What’s the movie about? (No spoilers)
The movie follows the way that Atlanna meets the father of Arthur Curry (Aquaman) and fall in love and have a child. Since he shares the race of humans and Atlantians, he will one day unite the two worlds - but of course, his brother won't so easily give up the throne.
The beings of the ocean are of many factions that might unite to destroy the humans who have trashed the oceans, killed sea animals and more … but then again, would it be better to unite with the humans? This is the struggle. Conquer the humans or join together in a common struggle?
Arthur Curry is a simple man, played by various aged versions of a golden-eyed brown man “who can talk to fish.” The joke made funny by Bruce Wayne had legs, and James Wan and Jason Momoa went with it as much as possible.
But wait, what happened to the dopey and corny blond-haired superhero who once only used to call on sharks or stingrays to push a troubled boat to shore? Jason Momoa showed this Aquaman - who is a nearly invulnerable and bullet-proof badass - is not the same dorky dude I used to watch in episodes of the Justice League when I was a kid in the ’70s.
In fact, all Atlantians can seemingly kick any human being’s butt. Badly. They all appear to be seasoned overly-strong warriors who can pack a punch strong enough to knock out an elephant.
If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read further … or skip until "My Overall Thoughts." This was a really fun movie, with a bit of over the top dramatization of a poor clueless strong kid one-day learning he has the power to become king if he wishes to do what is best.
My review with a few spoilers
This Aquaman, who doesn’t want much responsibility, gets drunk with his dad and rescues Russian sailors trapped on a submarine, worked well for me. But sometimes it looked a bit like everyone else was struggling to catch up. I mean not really, but no one else really was able to match his sarcastic banter, except maybe his father.
Aquaman was birthed in the DC universe, and he has just never been a tough guy. But Momoa is. I loved it. In fact, my nephew Parker said this “was the best DC movie ever!” A sentiment shared by a little girl behind us after the movie ended. So you have some great new young fans Jason.
My buddy Dann said he definitely liked it, but Wonder Woman was still his favorite.
Overall, I loved the movie and had very few complaints, and I am only delving into the cons because I am writing a review. I enjoyed the interactions between Momoa and the Atlantians, Aquaman and Mera, but his over-reluctance to be the king was a bit formulaic.
I could feel the set-up coming for quite a few things, I never really believed his mother died, or that he would lose the battle against his brother or against the Black Manta.
My Overall Thoughts
Jason Momoa did only what Jason Momoa could do. He salvaged the dorkiest superhero in all of the superhero worlds and made him cool.
But the DC Universe (at least to me — and believe me I know I will have some who disagree) is the most watered down of all comic worlds. The characters were always more of a do-gooder than what you might see in Marvel. I don’t even think Superman has said a really bad word in his life. He probably has, but not that I have ever seen.
Jason Momoa has brought to the screen to what I will call the “Miley Cyrus Effect.” Miley used to work for Disney, but had to break a pretty severe mold of goodie-two-shoes, and went way overboard to become something other than she once was.
All said, I loved the movie, I literally laughed and cried a bunch and felt excited to be on a wild ride. Wanna have a blast? Go see it.
Jason Momoa is the only person who could make Aquaman this cool.
My Native Nerd Score out of five possible Native Nerds
🤓🤓🤓🤓1/2 Four-and-a-half Native Nerds for the best Aquaman possible in the DC universe!
Follow fellow Native Nerd, Vincent Schilling associate editor for Indian Country Today at @VinceSchilling - Make sure to use the Hashtag #NativeNerd
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