Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a film that seems to have a lot of baggage, whether it’s the last film in the DC universe to feature Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, conflicting reports about which Batman will appear, rumors of Amber Heard Relationship drama with Johnny Depp eventually pushed her to the brink, etc.
But it’s really all ado about nothing. This Aquaman movie acts as a direct sequel to the first movie and doesn’t serve the larger franchise at all – why would it when there’s nothing to tease? Naturally, this means that there is no Batman in this film. And the rumors about Mera being left out of Amber Heard were wrong, because she’s in plenty and has several important heroic moments in the third installment.
All that stuff was just noise. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom as a new big-budget action-adventure from one of the best filmmakers working today.
What we ended up with is more or less the best-case scenario for Aquaman 2: It’s just a new James Wan movie filled with all kinds of weird and wonderful things that weren’t even hinted at in the trailer. It has been seen many times over the past few months. Just as the first Aquaman succeeded despite being overshadowed by the failure of Justice League , The Lost Kingdom does very well despite serving as the franchise’s dying breath.
Aquaman 2 picks up directly where the previous film left off, with Black Manta (Yahia Abdul Mateen II) teaming up with Dr. Shen (Randall Park) to seek out Atlantean technology that he can use to repair his power suit. But they’re very lucky—thanks to man-made climate change, an icy ice shelf that’s been hiding something big is starting to break open for them. There, Manta finds an ancient triad and a spirit who promises him power in exchange for freedom from his ancient prison.
The newly improved Manta no longer needs a power suit as he has the powers of an ancient spirit, not to mention a much more powerful laser helmet and an old hammerhead submarine with a super powerful sonic beam that can Destroy Aquaman himself.
Meanwhile, Arthur Cory/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), King of Atlantis and now a father too. It turns out that being king is pretty annoying, and Manta’s return after a few years is quite a feat – he almost manages to kill me with his new laser blast in the film’s first big action sequence. This fight also has other consequences – the Council of Atlantis doesn’t think Aquaman is doing enough to protect them from the machinations of the surface world, because they think Manta is a surface issue, and they threaten to
So Arthur must do something serious: break his brother Orem (Patrick Wilson), the bad guy of the last film, out of his desert prison and go on the offensive. I don’t want to say too much about where the adventure goes – that’s where all the cool stuff that wasn’t in the trailer starts.
On a technical and visual level, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is just as wonderful as the first film. It was reworked many times during post-production, as it probably was. It’s beautiful, the action is remarkable, and the Patrick Wilson/Jason Momoa pairing is incredible—Wilson is funny in a way I never expected, and it’s wonderful.
However, if you’re looking for much in the way of meaning or substance, you won’t find much of that here. For the most part, we’re here for the fun and the eye candy, not necessarily the brains. After all, it’s a sequel to a movie that shows that dinosaurs aren’t going extinct without any of the characters actually acknowledging it.
There’s some very prominent social commentary on climate change, but it’s not subtle – the manta literally says, “Thank God for global warming, am I right?” And it basically uses the power of climate change against Atlantis. But for the most part, Aquaman 2 is just the kind of movie where, when it’s all over, a character tells Arthur that being king isn’t so bad after all, even if he’s never played king once. . Assign the whole movie
But that’s okay. We are not watching this movie for its mind. We watch it because it’s silly, fun, exciting, incredibly smooth, and balances out the ensemble wonderfully. Randall Park, despite the complete absence of marketing, is one of the film’s main characters and in some ways its heart, and Amber Heard’s Mera is also prominent despite being similarly minimized in the trailer – she It is still one of the main characters. !
Given the mood around DC this year, I think we all reasonably expected Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom to be the same mess that The Flash was. Instead, James Wan proved once again why he’s one of the best directors we’ve ever gotten by giving the DC movie a much more compelling swan song, and it’s a better one than the franchise probably deserved.