Review: In 'Aquaman & the Lost Kingdom', the kingdom is lost but so is the fun, frolic & (warily) Amber Heard

You could have made Aquaman fun, and you could have made Aquaman anything you wanted to, but you never made him one thing, and that is - boring.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Oh DC! Why oh why! Whether or not James Gunn has officially taken over and how much he has been involved with the lot that continues to come is a question mark, but Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is yet another reminder of how DCEU definitely needs a change! Pronto! You could have made Aquaman fun, and you could have made Aquaman anything you wanted to, but you never made him one thing, and that is - boring. That is what the sequel to Aquaman (2018) - Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom turns out to be. However, are there redeeming points, and are they actually redeeming enough to make it still a worthy watch? Having had the chance to see the film beforehand, here's what I thought about it-

Overly Complex Storyline and Missing the Fun


What made the first instalment so effective and successful? Fun and campiness. When you have an actor like Jason Momoa at your disposal, who is such a natural with his comic timing and goofiness - how can you not be making the best use of it. It perplexes me even more because director James Wan understood this so well in the first one but almost entirely forgot about it in the sequel. The many reshoots, delays and controversies attached to the film must have surely played a role, but even then - the core of the film is entirely lost because you find yourself finding moments of redemption amid the absolute chaos going on around. The complexities of the storyline take over general interest it just ends up being mundane and blah! The lost kingdom of Necrus, the constant reminder of climate change and greenhouse gases, tries to lend a realistic tone to this fantasy world but ends up being a mishmash of thoughts and ideas just somehow put together. 

I challenge you to a drinking game while watching this film. Every time the word 'orichalcum' is used in the film, you take a large shot - you would be super drunk towards the end of the film - and that is probably a better result for you than coming out after watching the movie. The beginning of the film is so promising as it gives the perfect blend of emotions and fun where you listen to Momoa's voiceover as Arthur Curry, who is still a naive but fun-loving king who barely understands how to operate the throne and even then does so with all his might - but is now a father to a five-month-old and makes for some of the most adorable moments. If you hook your story onto the basics, they land so much better, but this arc is almost entirely forgotten until the third act.

An Underwhelming Villain and a Forgettable Chapter


What is with this year and us witnessing one underwhelming antagonist after another when it comes to superhero movies! The streak of wasting away fine talents with mediocre and formulaic writing and execution in the form of a villain continued here in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, where Yahya Abdul Mateen II is incredibly wasted as David Kane, aka Black Manta. If you build-up a villain's tactics throughout the film and showcase his mind games, you just cannot have him be finished in less than two or three blows in the final act. 

Amidst so much going on, there are moments when you feel that even the actors on-screen are mostly uninterested, and the long span of reshoots has seemingly taken a toll with them being in characters and, somehow, even with the script. The film might look like a finished product, and it is, but the gaps in storytelling and a subtle flow are obvious. Even then, it can be said that Momoa and Patrick Wilson, aka Orm's arc, their performances and their camaraderie make up for some of the fun that the rest of the film lacks incredibly.

The Verdict

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is an indicator that when a film has problematic off-screen shenanigans, and more so when any film suffers long delays and reshoots, the central focus is lost in translation. There is no fun in the process of making a film like this, and that shows on-screen as well. Everyone would have been extremely professional with their pursuit of completing the movie, and so they did, but it lacks a beating heart so evidently that it never gets better.

Rating - **1/2 (2.5/5)

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