Review of the film “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”
The unsuccessful DC cinematic universe, once overseen by Zack Snyder, will likely be studied for many years to come. Its trajectory highlights many problems of contemporary Hollywood, such as the gap between decision-makers and those trying to give those decisions some meaningful sense. However, Snyder himself is not without flaws, so there is no clear-cut villain in this story. Now, the responsibility for the new attempt to create the DC cinematic universe rests with James Gunn, and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is the latest installment in the current DCEU. Let’s explore how this comic book movie turned out in our review below.
- “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”
- Genre: Superhero Adventure
- Director: James Wan
- Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison Theatrical
- Release: [Premiere Date]
- Year: 2023 IMDb Site
In the second installment of “Aquaman,” Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) has taken his rightful place as the king of Atlantis. However, royal duties prove challenging for him, as he lacks expertise in political intrigues. Arthur is also raising a son with his wife Mera (Amber Heard). A new threat emerges in the form of mercenary David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), whose desire for revenge could endanger the entire planet. Now, Aquaman must unite with his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) to overcome the challenges and, in the process, confront his destiny.
Initially, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” was not planned to be the culmination of the DC cinematic universe. “The Flash” with its plays on parallel realities and canon changes would have been a more fitting candidate for that role. But in the DC and Warner Bros. universe, things haven’t gone as smoothly, so we have what we have.
The new installment of Aquaman’s adventures doesn’t resemble a finale, culmination, or a turning point of any kind. In short, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is essentially the same as “Aquaman” in 2018, with the same aesthetics, development vector, and emphasis. Don’t expect any groundbreaking villains; it’s all quite familiar.
The film’s positioning can be understood, considering that the first “Aquaman” brought in a significant $1.143 billion at the box office, becoming one of Warner Bros.’s highest-grossing films. After the difficulties with filming “The Flash,” the studio probably had neither the desire nor the extra financial resources for experiments. Therefore, the new “Aquaman” is a maximally safe, almost sterile sequel.
Like the first part, it is visually appealing due to its aesthetics. Films set in underwater depths often work well due to their unusual settings. Additionally, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” actively plays with themes of ruins and lost settlements. So, simply watching the film is a pleasant experience.
However, thinking about it critically is another story. At its core, it revolves around buddy movie dynamics, realized through the relationship between Arthur and Orm. Considering their relationship in the first part, one would expect more tension and passion in the new story, but it’s lacking. The main characters joke with each other as if they never fought for the throne. Overall, their relationship seems primitive.
This primitivism is embedded in every element of the new “Aquaman.” Dull fights, unfunny jokes, and an overly template narrative are present throughout. From the very beginning, you can predict how the story will unfold in each act. The wow factor is entirely absent. Perhaps this is also due to the filmmakers’ unwillingness to take risks, but it doesn’t make the film any better.
Of course, the film still functions as pure entertainment without any pretensions. It has its own dynamics, and the locations and situations change quite diversely. The problem is that everything ties together in a not-so-compelling story. “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” quickly fades from memory, literally right after watching it. Not the best criterion for a film, is it?
Nevertheless, it’s evident that Jason Momoa thoroughly enjoys playing Aquaman. The character, as a result, comes off as overly comedic, almost caricatured. Yet, this approach has its own charm.
“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” can be considered a standalone, separate story that doesn’t aspire to be the final chapter of the DCEU but elicits mixed emotions. However, it’s a passable film in almost every aspect, showing no willingness for experimentation. This doesn’t entirely ruin it, but it certainly doesn’t make it better either.