2 out of 5
And now the end is near...
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the sequel to the 2018 solo outing for Justice League member, Aquaman. It's hard to believe we have waited over five years for this film. It's development was troubling. The DC/Warner Brotheres execs moved around and James Gunn was installed as the king of the new DC Expanded Universe as Zack Snyder was finally ousted. Et tu James? In interviews, director James Wan has confirmed Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will be the final movie in the DCEU franchise that began with Man of Steel in 2013.
I went into this with low expectations knowing that it was the last film in a franchise that began ten years ago. It's like throwing out the stragglers at a party. You want them gone so you can clean up and get ready for something new. This film feels like that. They were not trying too hard and it's a sad, flawed and lazy farewell. The plot is boring and never fully explained. It recycles too many elements from other DC superhero films. It even borrows form the Marvel franchise. At one point Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) and his brother (Patrick Wilson) are traipsing through a jungle, making wise cracks as they seek the thing which will let them do the thing that moves the story along. At one point, I turned to my partner and whispered - this is like Thor and Loki in Thor: Ragnarok. Honestly, then Aquaman turns to his brother and asks him to stop whining like Loki!
The villain, Black Manta who wields a new powerful weapon which wreaks havoc for 2 thirds of the film but then is inexplicable and all too easily defeated in the film's final Act.
James Wan returns to direct, but the results fall short. The grandeur of battle scenes does not compensate for a perceived lack of substance. The CGI is fine, better than some MCU world-building films - I'm looking at you Antman and your Quantum Realm!
Jason Momoa’s natural charisma is not enough to save the day. His performance is overshadowed by the movie’s shortcomings. The cast struggles with the material. Seeing Nicole Kidman deliver some of the lines she is forced to deliver is just unsettling.
Aquaman deserved a better send-off, as did the DCEU. I wonder what's behind the final curtain?