Australian Council on Children and the Media

Aquaman

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Not recommended under 13 (frequent comic-book style violence and some coarse language).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Aquaman
  • a review of Aquaman completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 31 December 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to strong and frequent comic-book style violence.
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Aquaman
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy violence.
Length 143 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Aquaman is the latest DC Extended Universe comic book character to be brought to film. It follows the story of Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa) who is the love-child of light house keeper Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) and Atlanna, Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidmann). When Arthur is a child, his mother is forced to leave him and his father to return to the underwater city of Atlantis, where she is presumed to have been executed for treason. Although Arthur grows up as a surface dweller, he soon becomes aware that he is a ‘half-breed’ who can breathe and swim like lightning in the ocean. When Arthur is a young teenager, Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe), loyal advisor to Queen Atlanna, secretly seeks out the boy to teach him about his family legacy under the sea and to teach him how to fight and survive under the water. It is Vulco’s hope that one day Arthur will be able to return to Atlantis as its rightful heir. Meanwhile in Atlantis, the current ruler is Orm Marius (Patrick Wilson), who is Arthur’s half-brother. Orm has evil plans to unite all the seven underwater kingdoms and to rise up and attack the ‘surface dwellers’ who are polluting the sea with their mindless consumerism and wasteful habits. Vulco and Princess Mera (Amber Heard) must move quickly to convince Arthur that now is the moment he must challenge Orm for the throne, assert himself as the rightful King of Atlantis and stop the imminent war.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Superheroes; super powers; war; fighting; pollution; sea ecology; myths and legends.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is very frequent (almost constant) comic-book style violence in this movie. It is often performed by an attractive and charismatic hero, has few consequences (not too much blood and gore), and includes violence between different ‘races’ or cultural groups. Some examples include:

  • Frequent action-battle scenes that involve shooting of guns both from a distance and at close range. For example, several Atlantic soldiers in armour burst into the lighthouse to capture Queen Atlanna, shooting laser guns at her. She must dodge their gun fire and use her trident to kill them all.
  • long ‘war’ sequences between different undersea groups that involve the use of large explosives and torpedo-like weapons.
  • Frequent close-range fighting scenes that involve stabbing, punching, kicking, slashing, maiming and use of objects as weapons. For example, Aquaman rescues a submarine from underwater pirates and uses a manhole cover as a shield from bullet-fire but also as a weapon to bash people over the head and kill them.
  • Several fight scenes where Aquaman and Orm attack each other with their tridents.
  • The central hero Aquaman admits that he has learnt (or been taught) to solve his problems ‘with his fist’.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are several scenes of dramatic sea storms, including a giant tsunami that appears from nowhere and sweeps cars and houses out into the sea.
  • Queen Atlanna fishes a goldfish out of a tank and eats it.
  • Queen Atlanna leaves her husband and small child to return to Atlanta. This scene is emotional, and some small children may find it sad.
  • On a trip to an aquarium, a very large shark starts ramming its nose repeatedly against the glass. The glass starts to crack and shatter which makes you think that it might break and all the children on the other side are in danger of drowning or being eaten by a shark.
  • Sometimes, the young boy Arthur’s eyes transform from normal eyes to a glowing amber colour.
  • There are several scenes where people are wearing protective outfits or armour that are quite intimidating, some with ‘gas-mask’ style head pieces.
  • There are many large fantasy sea creatures, such as giant sea dragons or squid or huge sharks. They are sometimes shown in armour and being used to ride into battle. Some children may find these creatures scary or disturbing.
  • A large Kraken-like sea monster rises from the deep and joins into the battle scenes.
  • A species of sea monster ‘The Trench’ attack a boat. They are demonic, zombie-like, skeletal creatures with jaws full of jagged teeth. They move fast and attack in large swarms.
  • Aquaman’s enemy wears a suit of armour that looks like a bug, with large glowing red eyes.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • Children of this age will still find many of the above-mentioned scenes and characters scary and disturbing.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Younger children in this age group may still find many of the above-mentioned scenes and characters threatening and scary.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • OK for this age group.

Product placement

Nothing of concern.

Sexual references

There are some mild romantic scenes in this film, but no sexual references of concern. However, parents should be aware of the following:

  • For both female and male characters, the costuming is hyper gendered and sexualised. For example, Aquaman is the archetypal strong man who is often naked to the waist and has bulging muscles, whilst his love interest Mera wears skin tight, low cut outfits that show a hyper feminine figure (very thin with large breasts).
  • There is some mild flirtation and one kiss between Aquaman and Princess Mera.
  • Queen Atlanna and Thomas the lighthouse keeper lie in bed together.
  • Atlanna and Thomas kiss passionately.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some mild nudity in this movie, including:

  • Aquaman is often naked to the waist, wearing only jeans.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Adults drinking alcohol in a bar. This includes one scene where they become drunk and behave in a silly way.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, as well as some language that has racist overtones. Some examples include:

  • Badass; d—k; damn; ‘screw you; ‘kill that son-of-a-bitch’
  • Terms such as ‘half-breed’ to describe someone who is half surface dweller and half sea dweller. This kind of language is used throughout the film and often in a derogatory manner. Although it is within a fantasy context, it is not a huge leap to imagine it being used in a real-life context within different socio-cultural groups.

In a nutshell

Aquaman is a completely over the top and cheesy superhero film that pulls out all the clichés. Despite this, the amazing costumes and great underwater CGI scenes are an enjoyable spectacle. Parents should know that there is a lot of violence in this film, so it is not recommended for children under 13.

The main message from this movie is to follow your true destiny, despite what dangers await you in its pursuit.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Bravery and courage in the face of danger.
  • The strength of true love to overcome cultural barriers.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • The use of violence to resolve conflict between both individuals and nations.
  • The ethics of using animals and creatures to fight in wars.
  • The consequences of polluting the ocean.
  • Racism. For example, the use of dubious terms such as ‘half-breed’. Although this is used within a fantasy context, describing land dwellers and sea dwellers, it is not a huge leap to draw comparisons with real life and the consequences of using similar languages to describe different cultural groups.

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