Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom ends the DCEU in floundering fashion after multiple reshoots & regime changes leave their residue all over it. The successor to the DCEU’s only billion-dollar movie, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom had a lot riding on its shoulders as DC and WB suffered historic negative responses to numerous films in the last few years. Aquaman broke new ground with audiences after Zack Snyder cast Jason Momoa in the role and after and the two created an important new background for the King of Atlantis. As a fan of this universe and a fan of where the character started, it’s sad to see Aquaman become the butt of his own jokes and just how far Momoa’s portrayal has fallen.
A new father and a loving husband to his wife Queen Mera (Amber Heard), Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) serves the people of Atlantis as their King by day and lives on land with his family and father (Temuera Morrison). As weather patterns worsen in the world do to mankind’s contributions to the climate crisis, Aquaman’s nemesis Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) seeks out an old power from the lost Atlantean Kingdom in order to kill Aquaman and his whole family! With the help of his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) the OceanMaster, Arthur must fight to keep his own kingdom and family safe!
At the helm of this comic book ship is James Wan, the horror master who’s clearly had to sacrifice his vision for the studio countless times. While his knack for creating terrifying creatures and thrilling escape scenarios helps save this film quite often, James Wan can’t help but fall victim to the studio machine as it’s tonally clear that different reshoots brought a new buddy-comedy to the forefront of the film. Not only is most of the comedy work unfunny, but there’s a Peter Safran Produced air of immaturity to the comedy which feels silly and stupid for our once stoic King of Atlantis.
Jason Momoa was seemingly at the top of his game in recent years, embracing the love of his fans and the roles Hollywood was casting him for. In the last year or so, it seems he’s made a shift in his life and he’s now a flamboyant funnyman in movies in a way that just doesn’t fit the tone in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. On a power level, he also seemingly plays second fiddle to every other combatant in the film whose fighting scenes look far better than his. Unlike times before, I just didn’t feel connected to Momoa’s Aaquaman in this film and I’m not quite sure where his head and heart lined up.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has bursts of technical brilliance as Wan can showcase inventive underwater machines and entire colonies, most of which helps cover up the largely uninteresting main story. It felt like at times that the film was recycling beats from the first movie, though this time smartly they bring Patrick Wilson in for a longer period and his natural charisma is enough to keep you going for a while. It’s more disappointing than anything to see the talents of so many people feel squandered after years of struggling to get this film and universe to the finish line. I feel bad for James Wan and Amber Heard especially because you can feel that they got the short end of the stick in a film that cares so little about them and serves moreso as a fun time for Momoa. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who watched this and just shook their head, but I’m also not too hopeful with the upcoming DCU film lineup either.
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