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  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (A Movie Review)


Starring Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Randall Park, Dolph Lundgren, Temuera Morrison, Martin Short, Nicole Kidman, Vincent Regan, Jani Zhao, Indya Moore, Pilou Asbæk, Jay McDonald, Natalia Safran, Samuel Gosrani, Jay Rincon, Jonathan Bremner, Jack Waldouck, Jonny Vaughton, Osian Roberts and Grant Huggair.

Screenplay by  David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick.

Directed by James Wan.

Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. 124 minutes. Rated R.

Let’s face it, it’s a bad time for Aquaman to continue his adventures in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. A whole tidal wave of issues are pressing against the return of the King of Atlantis.

First off, and most basic – the world at large seems to be getting a case of superhero fatigue. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in particular is in a precarious place, as the last remnants of the old Zack Snyder-planned DCEU of which this film is a part has come to an end, and the new James Gunn DC universe is going in a completely different direction – a direction which may or may not include Aquaman. (The appearance is that at least for now, Aquaman has no place in Gunn’s DC films.)

The last several DCEU films have been box office disappointments, including The Flash, Shazam 2 and Blue Beetle. It’s not unique to DC, who has always been the also-ran comic book cinematic universe. Even the grand poohbah of the art form, Marvel, has had recent films become severe box office disappointments. (The Marvels, Thor: Love and Thunder and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, anyone?)

Not only that, but there have also long been rumors of an uncomfortable, strife-filled set for this film – particularly an apparent feud between star Jason Momoa and co-star Amber Heard, which is a concern, considering they are playing husband and wife. In fact, Heard’s role seems to have been cut due to Momoa’s insistence on limiting her involvement – although that limitation also may have to do with Heard being essentially cancelled after the infamous trial against her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

Still, Warner Brothers thought enough of Aquaman to toss it out in the deep end and make it a Christmas tentpole title.

I can’t say that I share their optimism. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the best and the worst of modern superhero filmmaking all mixed up into a big, confusing mess. There is very little in the way of a plot here, although there is nearly constant eye-popping action which the filmmakers hope will distract you from the fact that not much of this stuff makes much (or any) sense.

Also, the attempts – mostly by Momoa, but by some other characters as well – to add some much-needed levity and humor to the film almost inevitably fall flat. (This was also a problem with the first Aquaman film.)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is lost itself, a huge, shambling series of poorly edited (mostly) underwater battle sequences held together with just the barest wisp of a plot. And that little wisp of story is basically one we’ve seen over and over now, particularly in superhero movies.

The cast feels like they are on autopilot for the most part – particularly Nicole Kidman who looks like she would love to be anywhere, anywhere, but where she is. On the other hand, Randall Park steals pretty much every scene he is in as a scientist who is dragged into an evil plot.

I can sort of relate to him. Although, in fairness, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom does have some fun action sequences, for the most part you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming into ever watching this again.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved. Posted: December 21, 2023.


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