Aquaman standing in front of snowy stairs

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

January 8, 2024
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At least this was a better bad movie than the first Aquaman! Too bad it’s the official end of the DCEU, though.

Set a few years after taking his rightful place as the King of Atlantis, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom follows Aquaman aka Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa), as he tries his best to balance life as leader of the seven seas, father of a superpowered newborn, and honorary member of the Justice League. Still hunted by the pirate mercenary known as Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Aquaman is forced to team up with his imprisoned brother, the villain Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson), after Manta gets his hands on an ancient Atlantean artifact with the power to unleash an evil that could destroy the world. Embarking on a journey to stop Black Manta’s schemes, Aquaman and Ocean Master must find a way to work together or risk having their rivalry ruin their chances of saving the people they care about most, both under the sea and on the land above it.

I don’t have many nice things to say about this one, so I’ll make this quick. Outside of the stuff I flat out didn’t like (more on that later), the elements that weren’t terrible, like the very comic book-y but all computerized action scenes and the always stellar portrayal of Aquaman’s underwater home of Atlantis, ensured that this movie was at the very least pretty to look at when it wasn’t boring and frustrating to watch. Throw in some cringe but not deal-breaking antics between Aquaman and his brother, Orm, and this brotherly bond subplot actually helps rather than hurts, a surprising but still ultimately pointless aspect of an otherwise unremarkable script that settles for being more of the same.

Continuing to characterize a relatively badass comic character in the completely wrong way with a weird tone that incorporates piss jokes, literal pee, horrible one-liners that would make Adam West’s Batman blush, and an inconsistent approach to its storytelling that makes Aquaman either seem completely clueless or randomly lucky, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom doesn’t work on a bunch of levels thanks to, among other things, a script that’s been tweaked and changed ad nauseam over the years to fit the mess that is the DCEU and an approach to the filmmaking that feels bland at best. And while the stench of Joss Whedon’s influence from his butchering of the Justice League movie will never go away, the fact that this movie is the final nail in the DCEU coffin makes its end that much more disappointing.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your opinion on DC Comics’ output of movies over the last decade, this movie finally lays to rest a cinematic universe that could have been something great but instead was squandered at best and actively ruined at worst. And while Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is not good by any stretch of the imagination, there’s an odd sense of relief in seeing this movie and knowing that I could simply enjoy it with no strings attached. James Gunn has his work cut out for him in the new DCU, so let’s hope he doesn’t make the same mistakes as the DCEU did.

At least this was a better bad movie than the first Aquaman! Too bad it’s the official end of the DCEU, though. Set a few years after taking his rightful place as the King of Atlantis, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom follows Aquaman aka Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa), as he tries his best to balance life as leader of the seven seas, father of a superpowered newborn, and honorary member of the Justice League. Still hunted by the pirate mercenary known as Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Aquaman is forced to team up with his imprisoned brother, the villain Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson), after Manta gets his hands on an ancient Atlantean artifact with the power to unleash an evil that could destroy the world. Embarking on a journey to stop Black Manta’s schemes, Aquaman and Ocean Master must find a way to work together or risk having their rivalry ruin their chances of saving the people they care about most, both under the sea and on the land above it. I don’t have many nice things to say about this one, so I'll make this quick. Outside of the stuff I flat out didn’t like (more on that later), the elements that weren’t terrible, like the very comic book-y but all computerized action scenes and the always stellar portrayal of Aquaman’s underwater home of Atlantis, ensured that this movie was at the very least pretty to look at when it wasn’t boring and frustrating to watch. Throw in some cringe but not deal-breaking antics between Aquaman and his brother, Orm, and this brotherly bond subplot actually helps rather than hurts, a surprising but still ultimately pointless aspect of an otherwise unremarkable script that settles for being more of the same. Continuing to characterize a relatively badass comic character in the completely wrong way with a weird tone that incorporates piss jokes, literal pee, horrible one-liners that would make Adam West’s Batman blush, and an inconsistent approach to its storytelling that makes Aquaman either seem completely clueless or randomly lucky, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom doesn’t work on a bunch of levels thanks to, among other things, a script that’s been tweaked and changed ad nauseam over the years to fit the mess that is the DCEU and an approach to the filmmaking that feels bland at best. And while the stench of Joss Whedon’s influence from his butchering of the Justice League movie will never go away, the fact that this movie is the final nail in the DCEU coffin makes its end that much more disappointing. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your opinion on DC Comics’ output of movies over the last decade, this movie finally lays to rest a cinematic universe that could have been something great but instead was squandered at best and actively ruined at worst. And while Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is not good by any stretch of the imagination, there’s an odd sense of relief in seeing this movie and knowing that I could simply enjoy it with no strings attached. James Gunn has his…

6

A Watery Grave

The Verdict

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6

Brian is first and foremost a nerd in every way shape and form. He likes to compare himself to a black hole, consuming any and every form of entertainment unlucky enough to get caught in his gravitational pull. It's not uncommon on any given day for him to read a couple comics, settle down with a good book, watch a few movies (inside and out of the theater), catch up on his ever growing but never depleting Hulu queue, challenge himself with a few good video games, listen to any music he can get his hands on and, of course, write his heart out. He spends every waking moment dreaming up interesting and intriguing concepts and ideas that will hopefully one day inspire and entertain anyone looking for an escape from their daily lives. Graduating from Full Sail University in good old humid Florida, Brian currently lives and works in New York City and is waiting for the day when all he has to do is wake up and create something unique and new for people to enjoy. He is always in the process of writing scripts and stories and is constantly on the lookout for ways to enhance and build his creative drive. After all, life is just one big story, all that really matters is how you strive to make it the best story possible. Disclaimer: Brian does not actually have powdered green skin in case anyone was wondering. A Skrull I am not. Blame the guys at the Color Run for this one.

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