Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the sequel to 2018’s Aquaman, and the final film before the DC Universe is rebooted. And as a final farewell to the DCEU, this Aquaman sequel is sadly lacking.
Jason Momoa returns as Arthur Curry aka Aquaman, 4 years on from the events that took place in the first film. He has now married Mera (Amber Heard) and has a son, Arthur Jr, splitting his life between the land and being King of Atlantis in the sea. Being King isn’t quite what Arthur thought it would be, and despite his family’s help, he becomes increasingly frustrated with the Atlanteans and their antiquated ways.
Meanwhile, David Kane aka Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) continues to plot revenge against Aquaman for killing his father. Working with scientist Dr Steven Shin (Randall Park), they are scouring the Antarctic for ancient Atlantean relics that Kane can use in his fight against Aquaman. On one such trip, Dr Shin inadvertently stumbles across an ancient civilisation with monstrous creatures and unusual machines, where Kane discovers a black trident that possesses him and promises to bring him the power he needs to destroy Aquaman.
Five months later, Kane infiltrates Atlantis to steal a material called orichalcum to power the ancient machines he has obtained. He’s intercepted by Arthur while trying to escape Atlantis, but manages to flee after injuring Mera and putting the population in danger. On speaking with his mother Atlanna (Nicola Kidman), Arthur discovers orichalcum has the potential to destroy the planet and must stop Kane before it is too late. To do so, he has to seek the help of his imprisoned brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who isn’t too keen to see him.
I wasn’t a big fan of the first Aquaman film, although overall it was silly enough to be vaguely entertaining. Unfortunately, this sequel repeats the same mistakes as the first, but this time failing to even be as entertaining. The script is horrendous, the large majority of jokes and one-liners fall flat and sometimes even had me physically cringing they were that bad. There are some decent quips in between all of the guff, but they’re few and not enough. Even Randall Park who could excel in a role like Dr Shin just isn’t given the right material to work with which is such a shame. The CGI and action also vary between pretty dire and impressive, but sadly it’s the former that sticks out. I found the underwater CGI scenes so grating and completely horrible to watch as they just looked so bad.
The plot itself is also pretty stupid and lacking in any real threat or intrigue, and I found myself struggling to follow it at points because it was just so ridiculous. And it doesn’t get off to a good start either when the five-month time jump early on doesn’t see Arthur’s baby son age a day. Also, I thought Black Manta as a villain was terrible in the first film and he’s even more so now. His revenge story is so dull and tedious and this is nothing against Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s performance, it’s not his fault that the character is so bad. The real villain who could’ve been quite threatening is never given the screen time he deserves, frustratingly so when he’s played by Game of Thrones alumni Pilou Asbæk.
The only shining lights in this film are Jason Momoa’s charismatic performance yet again as Arthur, who is a lot of fun even when he’s got little to work with, and the brilliant chemistry between him and Patrick Wilson as Orm. The moments when these two are on screen together bickering is genuinely the only time this film is enjoyable, and sadly there just wasn’t enough of these moments to keep me entertained for the entire film.
Despite the likeable buddy comedy of Momoa and Wilson, it isn’t enough to make Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom a fitting send-off for the DCEU.
Where to Watch
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!