Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Verdict: This Aquaman sequel is an incoherent mess that forgets what made the first film so fun and charming

  • Jason Momoa, Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard
  • December 21st 2023
  • James Wan

The current iteration of the DC Extended Universe ends with James Wan’s Aquaman sequel.

After many delays, Jason Momoa is back as Arthur Curry in his standalone Aquaman sequel.

Our titular superhero is now married to Mera (Amber Heard) and they have a baby boy, and he splits his time between Atlantis, where he is king, and the surface world.

David Kane/Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who you may remember from the original, is still determined to avenge his father’s death and kill Arthur. During his mission, he finds a black trident that possesses him with evil forces that could destroy the planet as we know it.

Realising he needs help defeating Manta, Arthur busts his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) out of prison and they have to put their differences aside for the greater good.

It is a great idea having Orm and Arthur reluctantly working together because this brings a different perspective to their relationship, considering they actively hated each other the first time around. One of the highlights of the film is watching them bounce off each other so it is a shame there is so much else going on.

With all the delays and the changes in leadership at Warner Bros, it feels like the film was edited so many times that it became an incoherent mess. The first 30 minutes are particularly baffling – they are slow, all over the place narratively and don’t make much sense.

The film picks up the pace and becomes less of a slog once Wilson and Momoa are reunited but it still takes itself far too seriously.

Momoa tries his best to bring some levity and witty banter to the movie and both Wilson and Randall Park (as scientist Stephen Shin) get a couple of humorous moments, but it needed more comedy overall.

It doesn’t help that the script is so poor. It is filled with a lot of clich├ęd fighting talk that you’ve heard a million times before and a bunch of clunky exposition. You can’t help but feel sorry for the actors – particularly Nicole Kidman as Momoa’s mum – having to say these lines.

And that’s not all – the overall story is very generic and forgettable, the CGI in the underwater scenes is weak, and the fight sequences are edited so much that they never really get going.

The first Aquaman was fun and light-hearted and a change of pace from the self-serious DCEU movies at the time. The heavy-handed editing on the sequel has stripped away its distinct charm and what made it unique and left us with a bog-standard superhero outing.

In cinemas Thursday 21st December.

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