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‘Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom’ Ends The DCEU With A Whimper

‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ review discusses how the movie ends the DCEU by showcasing all the problems that plagued the franchise.

Aquaman 2
Warner Bros.

This Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom review marks the last time we will be discussing a new release from the now-defunct, DC Extended Universe. The Aquaman sequel is the final film of that shared universe that saw other amazing films like Birds Of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn, The Suicide Squad, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League. However, The Lost Kingdom does not live up to any of those, or even other lesser DCEU films. The sequel is largely a mess of new ideas, about-turns from established characters, and a storyline that genuinely made no sense whatsoever. Read on for my Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom review. 

Please note that the following will contain spoilers for Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom. Now in theatres. 

Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom Adds Too Much Story In A Sequel

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom review Momoa.
Warner Bros.

The first Aquaman film was honestly a lot of fun. Sure, there wasn’t a lot of consistency throughout, such as the tonal shift into a rom-com about halfway into the movie, but the ridiculous shenanigans were enjoyable enough. Not to mention seeing the perfect casting of Jason Momoa as Aquaman, this rebellious loner who has to save the world. There is no such redeeming thing in The Lost Kingdom

The movie tries to do too much with not enough establishing of concepts, so audiences are trying to wrap their mind around one thing, while even more far-fetched ideas keep coming up. The Lost Kingdom deals with Arthur (Momoa) now King of Atlantis, juggling being a ruler with being a father. Seemingly not content with the politics of running a kingdom, Aquaman longs for adventure. The kind of on-the-street (ocean?) level crime fighting he is used to. But an old villain in Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) threatens to upend all of what Arthur is trying to establish, by using crazy Atlantean technology of his own. This is where things fly off the rail a little bit. 

The Movie Has Jarring Plot Points That Make No Sense

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom review Bros.
Warner Bros.

This Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom review will focus more on those tonal inconsistencies and where the story seemingly flies off the handle. The movie opens in a very John Hughes-like, Ferris Beuler-type of story with Aquaman himself narrating the recap of his life for audiences. It’s cheesy and feels very out of place in an Aquaman movie. A montage shows his everyday life as a new dad and ruler of Atlantis. But weirdly, Mera (Amber Heard), his wife and mother of his child, is completely absent. The movie also makes it seem like Aquaman is a single dad, but then Mera pops up in a scene or two here and there. It’s confusing and definitely feels like a hodge podge of multiple versions of the story edited together. 

In many ways, The Lost Kingdom is emblematic of all the issues that plagued the DCEU in its 10 year-run; no plan or foresight of direction, countless studio interferences, and a failure to understand how to do a shared universe in the first place.

Aquaman himself is also seemingly different. But not in a good way. The previous portrayals of the character by Momoa in the other DCEU entries were as a lovable badass, who was also a rebellious loner. Here, Momoa plays him as this goofball who is obnoxious and annoying, shrugging off any sense of somber or serious behavior. It’s a jarring shift in his depiction that is just one of the many confounding decisions highlighted in this Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom review. 

Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom Review Is Spoiler-filled

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom review Momoa Heard
Warner Bros.

Another aspect of this Aquaman sequel is how it’s billed as this buddy-comedy, seeing how Arthur has to team up with his brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson) in order to find where Black Manta is hiding. But they also end up teaming up because Orm is technically good now. I guess. It’s weird. But it also does explain the shift in Aquaman’s behavior. Seeing how the odd couple pairing sees Orm as the straight man who doesn’t know the inner workings of the surface world, it makes sense that Aquaman himself would be the goofy comic relief. It just didn’t make sense with all the other things the character had to do in the story. 

The Black Manta storyline had a lot going on. So hell-bent on revenge, Manta teams up with a scientist played by Randall Park, to find more Atlantean technology to rebuild his suit so he can kill Aquaman. Along the way, he finds a Black Trident belonging to the king of the Lost Kingdom of Atlantis. He speaks to him through the Trident, giving him access to all this advanced, destructive technology, bases, ships, and weaponry. It’s like an entirely different movie and exposition crammed into just one character’s arc, which also happens to be the main threat of the story. But none of it services whatever larger story they were trying to tell. 

The Plot Points Are All Over The Place

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom review Manta.
Warner Bros.

The story also tries to do too much with whatever is happening on-screen. The initial plan seems to be setting up how Aquaman’s heart isn’t in being a King, something he will maybe learn throughout the movie. Similar to Valkyrie’s arc in Thor: Love And Thunder. But that doesn’t go anywhere, as he did exactly what he does in the first movie, go on an adventure and kick butt. The ending just sees Orm tell him he’s ready. Sure. 

Then there’s this other angle of how Aquaman wants Atlantis to reveal themselves to the rest of the world, but the others don’t. Similar to T’Challa in Black Panther. It’s spoken of once and then happens in the climax, never fully developing why this is important, so the climax means noting. 

There’s also how the brothers bond by going on this new adventure. Like Loki and Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. That arc of how they go from enemies to family throughout the story is also very surface-level and predictable. There are also throwaway conversations and plot points about being a father, family, climate activism, global warming and so much more that none of them are done properly. 

Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom Review Conclusion

Warner Bros.

The sequel to Aquaman ends the DCEU with such a whimper that it’s almost a blessing given how this movie ended up. None of the stakes mattered, and none of the relationships mattered. The performances are lackluster. Despite an awesome fight scene, Nicole Kidman is a waste in her role as Aquaman’s mother. Amber Heard is nonexistent. While there might be one or two moments of laugh-out-loud comedy between Wilson and Momoa’s dynamic, it’s not nearly enough to make up for everything else going on. In many ways, The Lost Kingdom is emblematic of all the issues that plagued the DCEU in its 10 year-run; no plan or foresight of direction, countless studio interferences, administrative changes, and a failure to understand how to do a shared universe in the first place. 

Rating: D-

Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom is now playing in theatres. 

What did you think of this last movie of the DCEU? Let me know in the comments below or follow me on X (formerly Twitter) at @theshahshahid for more reviews of the newest movies. 

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