Well, this is it for the current version of the DCU. James Gunn and Co. are coming in; the old guard is going out. I’m sure when Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was developed, it wasn’t envisioned as the swan song for the current crop of heroes. Due to outside circumstances, and things out of the control of both James Wan and Jason Momoa, it’s the finale. Now, that’s putting undue pressure and expectations on the film. However, this is also the sequel to the highest-grossing DC film ever.

There are other circumstances that go into this film, some that don’t end up mattering, like Amber Heard and the controversy that surrounds her, and others like reshoots that end up mattering a lot. Most of the cast from the first film return for this one, including Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, Temuera Morrison, and Randall Park. It’s kind of astounding that almost all of the cast from the first film returns here, from a logistical and storyline standpoint.

This time around, Black Manta (Abdul-Mateen) is out for revenge on Aquaman, after he killed his father. He finds a trident that has the power of the lost 7th Kingdom and its former ruler, giving him superhuman powers that rival Arthur’s. With the use of a material that Atlantians hid away, Black Manta is poisoning the Earth and the oceans to bring back the old ruler. Arthur has to balance his life between the ocean and the land and his new family with Mera (Heard).

The Good Of Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom

The absolute highlight of this film is the relationship between Orm and Arthur. Momoa and Wilson have a dynamic chemistry that drives the entire film. That makes sense because the story really follows them growing together as brothers. Orm goes from antagonist to a sort of antihero here. The action between him and Arthur is also absolute dynamite. They’re a formidable fighting machine that does some stunning action and fights. Black Manta is a nice foil to the two of them, especially when he gets the black trident. It’s a juxtaposition of the gleaming trident that Aquaman has.

James Wan is known for his horror movies, and you can definitely see that eye in this movie. Black Manta and the armies of the 7th kingdom are terrifying at points. Wan shoots Manta like a slasher villain, and it just works. The monsters of the deep are also horrifying and make for real tests for the heroes.

Wan also adds some light touches to the proceedings that make the more dense and dark moments a bit lighter. I know there are plenty of people out there that cry out about humor in superhero movies, but Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has some really funny moments, especially between Wilson and Momoa.

Finally, about Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, it just knows it’s a comic book movie. It doesn’t try to pass itself off as something else. The movie and the people behind it know this is a fun popcorn blockbuster. At the heart of it, this is an entertaining movie that gives you what you want.

The Bad Of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

The script for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom really lets it down. The movie will be humming along, hitting you with some action, and then it’ll slam stop to give some exposition about the history of Atlantis or over-explain something. There are at least two voiceovers in the movie that are just there to explain things that don’t really feel like they need too much explanation. That, combined with the pacing of the film, leads to some sections that feel overly dense.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom also has an ending that ends up feeling slightly cheap. The final battle is bifurcated between Black Manta and the other villain, but neither really has a satisfying ending. The epilogue of the film does tie everything up a bit in a fun way, but it feels slightly convenient with the actual big bads going down.

That over-explanation and sort of stuffed feeling squeeze Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom a bit too much for it to be as good as it can be. if this movie was a bit leaner on some of the Atlantean/scientific explanations, it could have been an easier watch.

It Might Be A Lame Duck, But That Doesn’t Matter

Watching Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, it’s slightly refreshing to see a comic book movie that could have been called Waterman and the Hidden Palace, and it would have worked. There are no ties to the DCU outside of the first film. It’s a self-contained movie that entertains and is just a fun time. Yes, there are issues with pacing and the script, but those don’t sink this movie from being something that the DCU didn’t have a lot of, light-hearted fun.

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