Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom relies too much on what worked for the first movie, instead of creating new magic.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Synopsis
After discovering a mysterious black trident, the vengeful David Kane starts stealing Orichalcum, a dangerous resource that wreaks havoc on the world’s environment when used. To thwart Kane, Aquaman decides to break Orm, i.e., the ex-Ocean Master out of prison. Would the two warring half-siblings be able to put aside their personal conflicts to save Atlantis and the world from destruction?
I watched Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom on Christmas Day and sadly, there isn’t much jingle in it, as everyone has been saying since last week.
I didn’t have issues with the two main areas of complaint, though. While the entire show is indeed undecided in tone, while I definitely wouldn’t be searching for snippets of the action scenes once they get uploaded to YouTube, I didn’t feel that this sequel is unbearable because of those flaws. Put it this way, the movie is at least still coherent and visually entertaining in a carnival sort of way.
Instead, what disappointed me was the lack of enthusiasm; the whole show felt like a mechanical, often half-hearted effort to just reproduce what worked for the first movie. Yes, the neon-lit panoramas of Atlantis still dazzle. The cool biker dude persona Jason Momoa puts forth sometimes still tickles, but that’s about it. Neither the story nor the action scenes contain any sparks that create freshness. Let alone grow the Aquaman/Arthur Curry persona.
You’d agree such growth is important for any sequel? Viewers don’t just want more of the same, we all want to know more about the lead and everything else; thus why we pay for a sequel. What’s sad here is also that there are actually some attempts to explore the different faces of Aquaman. Him as a father, as a bullying but also loving brother, as a sleepy sovereign, etc. But these moments are brief and only meant for humour.
By now, you must have also read that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the last DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movie. Come 2025, the franchise will reboot as the, ahem, DC Universe (DCU). Apparently, it’s believed that the dropping of an “E” will bring about galactic rejuvenation.
Remembering this during the show is sad for me, and not because “Aquaman 2” is getting poor reviews. The entire sequel markedly makes no mention or reference to the other heroes of the DCEU, an omission that’s really hard to ignore given Black Adam, The Flash, etc., went to almost ludicrous extents to remind viewers that a shared universe exists. Wasn’t Momoa in the post-credit scene of The Flash?
It’s as if everyone has given up and just wants to forget about the DCEU. Wait, wants you, the viewer, to forget about it.
How Lost Kingdom ended is also NOT the franchise going out with a bang; far from it. In years to come, I’m sure media writers and academics will feverishly analyse and re-analyse why the DCEU stumbled, despite working with some of the most valuable, beloved, and enduring properties in pop culture.
Here’s hoping that under James Gunn and Peter Safran, a better, more successful shared cinematic universe can be created.
Was Amber Heard’s Role in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Reduced?
Discussing this is tabloid-y, I know. But, oh well.
Here’s how I feel.
If you are watching this sequel as a standalone movie, and if you have not watched most earlier movies of the DCEU, then I think you wouldn’t sense any reduction. After all, the movie is called Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, not Arthur and Mera Save Everyone. On another note, Heard is rather too subdued with her performance, given how fiery she was in the first movie.
If you’re familiar with the older movies, then I think it’s hard not to notice Mera’s reduced presence. The character was one third of the story in the first movie. She also had a pretty beefy role despite not being one of the featured superheroes in Justice League.
What it all means is something that I shall … leave to your juicy speculation.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.