Aquaman

Parental Guidance: Aquaman

Justice League co-founder splashes down in theatres in a genuinely fun DC superhero movie. But should you take your kids to see it?

As parents and film fans, we want to share the best of the cinematic world with our kids. But when you haven’t seen a new movie yet, how do you know if you should take your kids? Obviously every kid is different, and they change with age; the same child who had to be escorted, weeping, out of Guardians of the Galaxy might completely fall in love with Deadpool two years later (true story). But it’s also true that movie marketing can be misleading – no-one wants to be that mom who had to leave Pan’s Labyrinth with an emotionally-scarred 10-year-old. With this ongoing feature, we’ll aim to offer some loose, spoiler-free, age-by-age guidelines as to what parents might expect from new features marketed to families, so you can make the best judgment call for your youngsters.

It’s finally happened: a DC universe superhero movie that’s actually fun to watch all the way through. Maybe the magic ingredient is director James Wan’s ability to choreograph intricate fight scenes, maybe it’s the writers (or editors) wisely deciding to cut waaaay back on the portentous speechifying; whatever changes they’ve made, it works. Aquaman is the DC movie we need right now. Sure the character motivations aren’t always clearly delineated, and parts of the plot are kinda ridiculous and don’t really hold up to close examination. But really, who cares? It’s visually stunning, and an action-packed fun ride with plenty to enjoy. For a more detailed review, read Victor Stiff’s take here.

But should you take your kids to see it?

Under 10s

I honestly expected large parts of this movie to be endless monologuing that would put kids to sleep, but I was pleasantly surprised. The few school-age kids in our showing didn’t seem bored at all, likely because the action keeps moving at a good clip with just short breaks between action scenes. Some of the more convoluted plot stuff (politics, mostly) might need to be explained, but likely not. The bad guys do bad stuff and fight the good guys, and the violence is, well, violent, but mostly bloodless.

Tweens and Teens

Older kids will probably grasp the stakes and motivations a bit more easily, but again, does it really matter? We all know what this is about: Jason Momoa fighting a bunch of other dudes, in various locales, with and without allies by his side. It’s an action-filled superhero movie that also happens to have some truly impressive visual representations of the different underwater kingdoms. There’s plenty here to keep the whole family entertained.

Adults

Parents, be assured, you don’t need to know the character of Aquaman through the classic DC comics or even to have seen the other movies in which Jason Momoa originated the character (Batman v Superman, Justice League) to enjoy this movie. You might be moved to ask yourself how, if his skin is super-strong enough to withstand combat and the high pressure of the deepest ocean trenches, it’s still permeable enough to be tattooed; or you might muse as to why so many kingdoms in superhero universes have monarchies that can be toppled by defeat in ritual combat (seems like a weak form of government IMO). Buuuuut it’s best not to think too hard about this one. Just sit back, and let it wash over you like a wave. (Not sorry.)

Wee Time: If your child, like mine, has the world’s smallest bladder, there are a couple of moments of exposition that aren’t critical to the plot at about the 0:50 and the 1:35 mark which could potentially be skipped in favour of a quick potty break. But hurry back to your seats, because these few minutes of chit-chat are bookended by some pretty exciting action scenes!

Bottom line: Definitely catch this one on the biggest screen possible to get the most out of the awesomely impressive visual effects. (And to appreciate Jason Momoa.) And stay until after the end of the main credits!

Jenny Bullough is a movie fan and mom based in Toronto. She has missed the middle 5 minutes of every kids’ movie because of her kid’s small bladder, and she let her kids watch Deadpool at an inappropriately young age and stands by her choices.

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