2023 proved to be an intriguing year, particularly for the superhero genre. After dominating the screens for 15 years, superheroes began to lose their powers one by one in 2023. Marvel started the year with high hopes, only to lose its way completely by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the DCEU closed its doors entirely at the end of the year, with “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” serving as the official conclusion to the DC universe. Although we are uncertain about what the new DC universe, spearheaded by James Gunn, will bring, one thing is clear: DCEU’s attempt to compete with Marvel resulted in a significant fiasco, exacerbated by the untimely departure of Zack Snyder.
Briefly touching upon the film’s plot, Black Manta, seeking revenge against Aquaman and searching for an ancient weapon in the depths of the sea, initiates a plan that will plunge the world into chaos upon finding what he seeks. Unaware of Black Manta’s whereabouts, Aquaman finds a solution by releasing his imprisoned brother Orm, the only person who can locate him. The two brothers reluctantly join forces to thwart Black Manta’s apocalyptic scheme.
As an avid James Wan enthusiast, I must admit that “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” stands as the weakest film in his filmography. My sentiments about the first film still stand. The relentless action storm of the initial film made it one of the most enjoyable movies when you switched off your logical faculties. Notably, the director’s camera choices elevated the viewing pleasure to another level. However, I cannot say the same for the second film. Compared to the first, the scarcity of action and the constant need for humor, unfortunately, weigh down the movie. Nevertheless, the film’s weakest link, when compared to its predecessor, lies in James Wan, known for his camera mastery, delivering a rather ordinary craftsmanship in this instance.
Whether it’s the nonchalance stemming from being the supposed final film of the franchise or a reflection of the company’s overall mood, I can no longer discern. The film is utterly devoid of seriousness. Attempting to overlay an action plot on its Warcraft Burning Legion-like narrative, it forcibly attempts to elicit laughter from the audience at every moment. I am aware that we go to the cinema to have fun and enjoy ourselves, but the dosage of amusement also needs to be appropriately calibrated. “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is an almost entirely unsuccessful film, carrying an attitude of not taking its audience seriously from the first second to the last.
Jason Momoa clearly derives immense pleasure from every film he participates in, consistently portraying the same character in almost every movie—a muscular biker who never drops his sunglasses and constantly feels the need to make jokes. There’s a noticeable increase in frivolity in the Aquaman character compared to the first film. Patrick Wilson emerges as the undisputed winner of the film. He is a fantastic actor, managing to shine despite the numerous absurd comedic scenes written for him. Another victor in the movie is Amber Heard. Despite the revelation of her public lies and temporary disappearance from the scene, Aquaman will likely mark her comeback. Opinions about her character may vary, but she is undeniably a talented actress, and her face truly suits the camera.
In essence, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is a poorly crafted film that unsuccessfully concludes the already unsuccessful DC universe. Even a camera maestro like James Wan delivers a weak performance, resulting in a movie devoid of seriousness and failing to deliver the anticipated action, making it an unpleasant watch. I didn’t have high expectations. Thinking I would derive enjoyment from the second film as I did from the first, given that James Wan was directing. I thought I would grab my popcorn, have fun, and leave. However, the film didn’t even allow me to savor my popcorn with its cringe-worthy jokes.
Cast & Crew
director: James Wan
writers: James Wan, Jason Momoa, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, Thomas Pa’a Sibbett
starring: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Randall Park, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren
USA | 2023 | 124 MINUTES |