'Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom' review: Ending an era with a big splash


Trident of Atlantis, give me sight beyond sight! — Photos: Warner Bros Studios Malaysia

Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom
Director: James Wan
Cast: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Nicole Kidman.

Here is a fun fact: out of all the new DC Extended Universe (DCEU) movies that have been released since Man Of Steel in 2013, the champion of the box-office was not Superman, not Batman, nor Wonder Woman. It was 2018’s Aquaman.

Yes, the guy who talks to fish earned more money than the DC’s holy trinity of heroes in the past ten years that the DCEU has been in existence. So it seems apt that it would be the film to close off this chapter of DC movies before a new era dawns.

But before James Gunn starts a new chapter for DC movies, another James – Malaysian-born Wan – gets to close the last one with a rip-roaring, action-packed aquatic adventure that proves that the success of the first was no fluke.

Go ahead, call me a mermaid again. I dare you.Go ahead, call me a mermaid again. I dare you.

Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry/Aquaman may have appeared in Justice League, but The Lost Kingdom conveniently ignores the connection and instead, focuses on just continuing the story from the first film.

Having wrested the throne of Atlantis from his younger brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur now has to juggle between his royal duties and being a father to his son, alongside his wife and queen, Mera (Amber Heard).

However, trouble arises when his arch enemy David Kane a.k.a Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) comes into possession of a Black Trident that gives him increased powers.

Off we go to do some dastardly, villainy things!Off we go to do some dastardly, villainy things!

Vowing revenge on Arthur for killing his father, Black Manta uses the trident to accelerate the global climate crisis in an attempt to revive a lost aquatic kingdom that promises him immense power.

This movie really shows just why Momoa was the DCEU’s most bankable star. His charisma and charm made him the odd one out among Zack Snyder’s brooding Justice League members, and his solo films have been fun, entertaining affairs that are a far cry from the dour films his fellow DC superheroes have churned out.

You take the Pirates Of The Caribbean extra on the left, and I'll take the one on the right.You take the Pirates Of The Caribbean extra on the left, and I'll take the one on the right.

He may be best known for horror fare thanks to The Conjuring franchise, but Wan’s action and comedy sensibilities have come to the fore in both his Aquaman movies.

Here, he makes full use of his lead actor’s gruff persona and pairs him with Wilson’s serious and uptight Orm for a buddy movie aesthetic that works like a charm.

Black Manta was a little underdressed for his omakase sushi meal, but at least he brought his own fork.Black Manta was a little underdressed for his omakase sushi meal, but at least he brought his own fork.

With much of the comedy and character development focused on the brothers’, it leaves Abdul-Mateen II’s Manta free to do all sorts of dastardly and villainy things for no other reason besides being dastardly and villainy; which is refreshingly old school.

The Lost Kingdom is exactly what a superhero film should be – fun, entertaining, action-packed, and most importantly, able to stand alone without having ties to a cinematic universe.

Orm and the Octobot would probably make a good spinoff movie.Orm and the Octobot would probably make a good spinoff movie.

It’s not that cinematic universes are bad – it’s just that not every film has to be part of one. And thanks to the success of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), most superhero films are now expected to be part of one, which can really backfire on a studio if not executed properly.

The Lost Kingdom perhaps benefits the most from the fact that it is no longer beholden to carry on a cinematic universe, and can be content to stay in its little pond (or rather, ocean). It’s just a shame that this will probably be the last time we see this version of Aquaman, but if the rumours of Momoa moving on to play Lobo instead are true, then the future of DC movies might just be a little brighter.

7.5 10

Summary:

Turns the tides for DC superhero movies.

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