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Makers of “Aquaman” Should Have Hired Better Writers

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Jason Momoa as Aquaman | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Jason Momoa as Aquaman | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Because my husband did not want to watch Mary Poppins with us, he went to see Aquaman instead. When we asked him later how the movie was, he said, “The special effects were good.” And, much later, “Amber Heard was sexy.”

Correct. He had no comment on the quality of the substance of the movie itself.

After Aquaman became available online, I finally took the time to see it. And I do agree with both observations made by my husband. Yes, the visual effects were spectacular (albeit over-the-top) and, yes, Amber Heard made a sexy Mera (although she really can’t act). I have a few additional observations though.

143 minutes to tell a story that could have fit in half the time

Yep, Aquaman is a pretty lengthy film. But not because time is required to tell a complex story. The story is simple and straightforward enough. In fact, the story is quite thin. But, you know, the inclusion of those CGI generated scenes, many of them prolonged for no apparent reason than to visually overwhelm, ate a lot of screen time.

Scene from "Aquaman" | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Scene from “Aquaman” | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Maybe it’s a generation thing. In an era where CGI effects have become a standard in superhero movies, the makers of Aquaman felt that the viewers would felt shortchanged if the scenes were less visually stimulating.

Scene from "Aquaman" | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Scene from “Aquaman” (badly superimposed background) | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The thing is, while the action scenes reeking with CGI effects were impressive enough, there were scenes where the characters were obviously standing before a background superimposed in post production. How about a little more consistency in the visuals, right?

The “environmental” subplot was too contrived

In the film, Aquaman’s half brother, Orm, reigning monarch of Atlantis, wanted to wage war against humans for polluting the seas.

Okay, I’m not going to say that the environmental subplot was placed there in an attempt to make the story socially relevant in the context of today’s realities. DC has been into that for some time already.

Decades ago, when Superfriends was still on TV, I remember an episode where Mr. Plenty treated the superheroes to a non-stop feast until he was exposed as wasteful creature who should be called Mr. Waste instead. So, raising environmental issues had been part of DC’s storytelling long before Orm articulated his reason for wanting to destroy humans.

The truth is, raising environmental awareness in that long ago episode from Superfriends was more naturally written into the story. In Aquaman, the inclusion of environmental issues was too contrived.

In fact, it didn’t make sense. Orm was willing to wage war against the other kings in order to make himself Ocean Master — and just what war was ever waged without the appurtenant destruction of the environment?

Patrick Wilson (as Orm) and Jason Momoa (as Aquaman)  | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Patrick Wilson (as Orm) and Jason Momoa (as Aquaman) | Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Although it could be argued that waging war against the pollution loving surface dwellers was a mere pretext, the story did not offer an alternative and more compelling reason for Orm to want to go to war with the humans. And, truth be told, if he did wage war with the humans, any destruction and pollution created by war on the surface would naturally affect the seas and oceans too. So, where’s the logic?

The dialogues were… what, meant to be understood by seven-year-olds?

I understand that superhero movies are made with a wide audience in mind — adults and children of whatever gender. So, big words and complex story lines must be avoided lest the film become incomprehensible to the majority.

But the way the dialogues were written was almost insulting. Combine that with the thin story and the ultra long CGI scenes, and… Are viewers really that stupid? Are viewers really incapable of appreciating nuances?

There are films that you watch as a child and enjoy as a child. Then, you watch again and again over the years as you grow into adulthood and you discover deeper meaning in the scenes and dialogues each time. Aquaman is not one of those films. It just isn’t.