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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Aquaman is a predictable but enjoyable DC/Justice League adventure about everyone's favorite underwater superhero (Jason Momoa). Arthur Curry may be heir to the Atlantean throne, but he'd rather live among the surface dwellers -- until his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson), plots a war against humanity and Arthur is forced to fight. And fight he does: The biggest issue here is the movie's frequent comic book-style violence; it's largely bloodless, but characters are beaten, impaled, and eaten by monsters, and weapons (including blasters and tridents) are used. Language is infrequent but includes "ass," "s--t," and "d--k"; adult characters also kiss and drink (once to excess). Themes touch on the value of courage and perseverance, as well as the importance of loyalty and responsibility. Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, and Dolph Lundgren co-star.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
AQUAMAN tells the origin story of DC's swimming super-dude (Jason Momoa). Born to a human father (Temuera Morrison) and Atlantean-queen mother (Nicole Kidman), Arthur Curry would rather live among the surface dwellers than claim his rightful throne. When his half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson), decides to unite the undersea kingdoms against the surface dwellers, Arthur is forced to fight against those who live underwater. Then beautiful Atlantean Princess Mera (Amber Heard) takes him on a quest to find the mystical weapon that will let him take the throne -- and prevent war.
Is it any good?
Like Wonder Woman, this adventure marks a move in the right direction for the Justice League/DC Extended Universe. Aquaman isn't great, but it's definitely more fun and engaging than the non-Wonder Woman entries so far. James Wan's direction is quicker and lighter on its feet than infamously dour movies like Batman v Superman. And this is the first of these attempted epics that actually feels like an epic. It centers on a quest that hops continents and new (undersea) worlds; it introduces a mythology; it culminates in a satisfying battle. It even has bona fide sea monsters. Much of the credit for Aquaman's success goes to the casting. Kidman brings unusual emotional depth to her brief appearance; she has chemistry with Morrison in a rare superhero-parent backstory that works. Heard is appealing as Mera, especially in a sequence in which she discovers some of the little pleasures of the surface world. Most of all, Momoa is a fun presence; his not-so-bright, biker-dude Aquaman and Ezra Miller's squirrelly Flash are definitely the two most surprisingly enjoyable takes on heroes so far in the DCEU. Momoa plays the turn nicely when Aquaman realizes that he may not be able to beat his adversary, and he handles his final ascension well. He has good comic instincts.
Some of the movie's story elements will ring bells for viewers: There are distinct shades of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Romancing the Stone, and Black Panther, among others, in the film. And there are probably too many different lands and armies to pack into even a two-and-a-half-hour-long movie. The visual effects aren't quite up to snuff, and there are too many keyhole-camera shots, rollercoaster camera moves, and belief-defying injuries (e.g., a guy takes a fall that would wreck a tank but comes out OK). But while the DCEU still has a long way to go to get within spitting distance of rival Marvel, Aquaman continues the positive trend started by Wonder Woman.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why do you think larger-than-life superhero/comic book characters continue to enthrall viewers?
As far as DC movies go, where do you think this one ranks? Why? What makes it different from the others?
- In theaters: December 21, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: March 26, 2019
- Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson
- Director: James Wan
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Ocean Creatures
- Character strengths: Courage
- Run time: 143 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
- Last updated: November 30, 2020
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