Episode Review: "Aquaman"
by Craig Byrne - KryptonSite Webmaster
AquamanTV.com for more on the Aquaman pilot!
are from the Aquaman trailer, thanks to Tabby of Denise-Quinones.com
for the caps! (And before you ask, said trailer has been removed
from the Internet by copyright holder Warner Bros.)
warned of pilot episode SPOILERS below. And before anyone asks,
right now there are currently no plans to air Aquaman,
nor has it aired on television up to this point, so you didn't
the past 6+ months, fans have been curious about where the television
adventure of Aquaman would take us. We pounced upon every
morsel of information that surfaced. We watched with anticipation
when we learned that Justin Hartley replaced Will Toale in the
lead role. We felt the excitement when Ving Rhames was added to
the cast. And we were curious if lightning would strike twice
for creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, which gave us Smallville
five years ago.
So after all
of these months of anticipation, how does it stand up? Pretty
casting breakdowns that leaked onto the Internet a few months
back? Well, you can forget them. A lot of people were worried
that A.C.'s new co-stars of Rachel, Eva, and Tom Curry would be
nothing more than clones of Lana Lang, Chloe Sullivan, and Jonathan
Kent, respectively. Thankfully, this is not the case. All of these
characters are mature, adult, and new - ones I would have savored
the opportunity to have seen more of.
the opening shots, Aquaman (apparently the "Mercy
Reef" title didn't make it) is picturesque. Lots of BEAUTIFUL
undersea life swimming around; the screen flashes to a sequence
taking place 10 years ago. A little boy is flying in a plane with
his mother. The little kid, of course, is Arthur Curry (Graham
Bentz), and his mother is Atlanna (Daniella Wolters). This early
scene gives the viewers a sense of family, as Wolters and Lou
Diamond Phillips (who plays A.C.'s adoptive father, Tom Curry)
have a very clear chemistry. Calamity strikes, and a bright and
powerful light emits from what seems to be the Bermuda Triangle.
The plane crashes. The young actor chosen to play A.C. at this
early age, Bentz, is very convincing in acting scared, as is Wolters
as his mother, who really seems like she is looking out for her
child. Atlanna instructs her son to escape, and she is taken away
- seemingly gone forever.
in this scene looks fantastic. Like the meteor shower in Smallville's
premiere, it immediately drags you into a world and then flips
it over on its side.
We then flash
forward ten years. We see the now-adult Arthur "A.C."
Curry (Justin Hartley). Its difficult to say what catches
your eye more how great the underwater photography is or
how A.C. seems to seamlessly swim with the sea life. I dont
know if Hartleys swimming ability was a prerequisite for
the casting, but Justin performed swimmingly here. (Okay, sorry,
that was a really bad pun)
himself into some trouble as he's decided to free some dolphins.
He later tells his friend Eva that he thought these sea mammals
were "calling for him," almost instructing him to do
scene between Lou Diamond Phillips and Justin Hartley soon following
A.C.'s arrest for his seemingly impulsive act of eco-terrorism
was one of the few scenes I thought dragged in the pilot. Phillips
had chemistry with the younger A.C. and Atlanna, but this scene
was one of the few in the episode that felt "off." Perhaps
compared to the other characters, Tom Curry is just somewhat boring.
It'd be curious to see if this would have improved over time
something that would only happen if the series were picked up.
scene soon shifts to a scene between A.C. and his best friend
and co-owner of the "Old Man and the Sea" dive shop,
Eva (Amber McDonald). This is one actress that I knew nothing
about prior to seeing the pilot, aside from a biography read online.
I'm happy to say that McDonald NAILED IT. Her interplay with A.C.
is the first in which we really see of his sense of humor, and
said humor is one of the two best things about the pilot, the
other being the fantastic underwater special effects.
Let it be
said right here, in case this pilot ever leaks out or is put on
DVD and the rest of the world gets to see it: I LOVE EVA. And
I think everyone else would too.
is not all fun and games. There's something mysterious brewing
in the Bermuda Triangle, and it has ties to Atlantis. There's
a creepy guy played by Rick Peters ("Bob Rickman" from
Smallville, also "Dr. Tom Griffith" from Veronica
Mars) who you just love to hate. Incidentally, I've realized
I really hate the characters Rick Peters plays. I mean that in
the kindest way - he plays characters that just tick me off
an example of great casting. There are people who disappeared
in the Bermuda Triangle years ago who are now resurfacing. There's
a mysterious and sexy Siren named Nadia who causes trouble for
A.C.. In other words, enough to keep you glued to the television
and curious as to what happens next.
Rhames is a fellow Atlantean exile named McCaffery. I must
admit, when he first showed, the performance seemed rather flat.
Kind of "I'm bad ass but I don't really have much going on
besides being bad ass." But as the episode progressed
he and A.C. became more like partners and McCaffery took his spot
as A.C.'s mentor his characters sense of humor started
to develop. By episode's end, you had a Buffy-and-Giles
vibe between the two of them. That, friends, is a very big compliment.
Miss America Denise Quinones (who many of you may remember as
"Andrea Rojas, the Angel of Vengeance" in the Smallville
episode "Vengeance" and the online "Vengeance
Chronicles" webisodes) plays an Air Force lieutenant named
Rachel Torres. She's dedicated to her work, and an accident, conspicuously
near the Bermuda Triangle, introduces her to A.C. for the first
time. Her first interactions with A.C. are fun, with snappy dialogue,
and she is brought into a storyline involving Rick Peters' character
I believe would only get more interesting. There's
a twist involving Rachel Torres that I will not reveal at this
time, just in case by some miracle this ever airs. I can
promise you, though, that it's really, really cool. Lana Lang
she isn't. Oh, and the very first sequence with Torres on an airplane
while A.C. is in the water, quickly swimming below, is AMAZING.
a hint of his true destiny when he is faced with a tragedy - kind
of the superheroic "great power comes great responsibility"
thing. He and McCaffery are taken away by Nadia (Adrianne Palicki),
and there's an undersea battle that really needs to be seen to
fully be appreciated.
gives Arthur a book to celebrate the start of their journeys together
- a book containing "Henry V, Parts I and II." "There's
plenty of sex and violence in there to keep you interested,"
McCaffery says. I have to say the same thing for this pilot. There's
plenty to go around for audiences of all types.
may notice there's one thing I haven't really commented on yet
in this review, and that's the leading man himself: Justin Hartley.
The short version? This guy is REALLY GOOD. It's no wonder he's
got a legion of fans from Passions, and for his first TV leading
role, he nailed it. His casting was a very wise move, and is certainly
leagues ahead of Alan Ritchson's overdone portrayal of "A.C."
in the Season 4 Smallville episode "Aqua." I
can only hope, should there be no hope for this project in the
future, that if the producers of Smallville choose to bring
A.C. back, they bring Justin Hartley back to do it. It's a damned
shame that we don't get to see him again.
ago, Smallville gave The WB what many may argue was their
last really big hit. Aquaman could have easily been the
first big hit for the new CW network. I really don't know what
executives could have been thinking when they chose to pass on
this. The comic book fans would have liked it, those who like
looking at pretty people would have liked it, and most of all,
it could have been an iconic hit for the network. Look at all
of the anticipation the project has had online thus far. I don't
see RunawayTV.com anywhere, and I doubt we will ever see such
not to miss: Yes, this pilot was very expensive, and you can see
that expense on the screen. That might have scared the decision-makers
away. It's also a VERY LAME excuse. There were plenty of interesting
and fascinating stories that could be told with these characters
for a lesser budget. They just had to get out the starting gates
with something theatrical. It's really like comparing the Smallville
pilot to the series. The series still looks darned good, and I
think it would have turned quite a profit in the long run.
looking at the fan responses to the leaked pilot episode trailer,
and the way that it spread through the internet in just a day,
it is clear to me that there's quite a demand for this show. So,
I implore any network executive who may dare to take a look -
give Aquaman a chance. Air the pilot and see how it does.
Or order a limited run of 6-13 episodes as a test, see how it
does. At the very least it'd be a very high-selling DVD.
episode of Aquaman was written and created by Smallville's
executive producers/creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and
directed by popular Smallville director Greg Beeman, and
was the kind of work that routinely got them Best Writer and Director
awards in the KryptonSite
Awards every year. The script (by Gough and Millar) had the
right mix of action, humor, and suspense, and Beeman's direction
was on the same high level as his work on some of Smallville's
biggest episodes. The project also succeeds in taking the comic
book myth and keeping it fresh, new, and exciting for a modern
audience. The comic book history of Aquaman is not ignored here
in the least; if anything, it is appreciated and embellished.
And best of all, it finally put Aquaman in the category of "not
It's not fair
that this much time and effort is spent on a GOOD product, with
good acting and production values, only to never be seen again.
I give "Aquaman" 9 stars out of 10. The only really
bad part? Even if this does get a DVD release, we'll never get
to see what happens next...
The views of Craig Byrne don't necessarily represent the thoughts
and feelings of everyone at KryptonSite.