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Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom




Rated PG-13 - for sci-fi violence and some language.
Director: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Temuera Morrison, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Randall Park, voices of Martin Short, John Rhys-Davies
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2023
4K UHD Release Date: March 12, 2024 (Amazon.com)


READER RATING:   


Plot Summary

Black Manta seeks revenge on Aquaman for his father's death. Wielding the Black Trident's power, he becomes a formidable foe. To defend Atlantis, Aquaman forges an alliance with his imprisoned brother. Together, they must protect the kingdom. (from IMDB)


Film Review

Forgetting the thoughts that, perhaps, the movie-going public just might be feeling serious superhero fatigue at the cinema, it's tough to ignore the fact that Warner Bros' DC cinematic universe has been lacking for most of its 10-year run. But, as we prepare for a full-on reboot of said cinematic universe (with Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn running the show creatively), the current iteration of the DCEU comes to a close with 2023's Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. The aquatic superhero's one and only sequel isn't anything to write home about, either, but its disappointing result is a fair representation of what the DCEU has been throughout its decade in existence.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is exclusively a sequel to the 2018 hit movie, Aquaman, and doesn't add anything to the DCEU's overall storyline. While hardly extraordinary, Aquaman was a well-crafted and fun superhero vehicle for Jason Momoa's titular character. It was a highly enjoyable underwater romp that defied expectations and was a suprising highlight of the DCEU. A sequel was inevitable, and I think it's safe to say that it was one to look forward to. However, with news of the collapse of the DCEU coming during the production of the sequel, not to mention the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial drama, the fate of the Aquaman sequel seemed doomed from the start.

But the weirdest thing about Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, is it almost seems like it hardly even tries to be anything more than a cookie cutter sequel. It feels rushed, thrown together, spastic, schizophrenic, goofy at times, and altogether messy. Oddly enough, it seems to have its heart in the right place thematically -- Momoa is visibly committed, but the movie hardly feels like a natural successor to its 2018 predecessor. For one, if I didn't know James Wan was in the director's chair once again for the sequel, I never would guess the same director worked on this movie. The tone is different, the pacing is different, even the look and feel is different. I'd love to know how much of The Lost Kingdom is Wan's intentions and how much is the result of studio involvement. Sure, the movie is an entertaining superhero adventure film, but it's got the worst case of sequelitis I've seen in some time (Although The Marvels, released just a month prior to this one, is certainly a bigger mess than this one).

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Again, it feels like Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is all over the place. It's hard to know how much of the Amber Heard drama had affected the storyline and editing, but her role is demoted to more of a side character than a main one. You may be surprised to see how much more of her remains in the movie than you'd expect, but I think it'd be near impossible to cut her out entirely and make the story still work. Still, her role is greatly diminished, and there are stretches of the story where it's kind of noticeably awkward that she's absent from the film. If you are familiar with the controversy surrounding the actress, her absence from scenes that feel like she should be included is tangible. So whether or not the original plan was for Momoa's Aquaman to pal around with his villain brother, Orm - played by Patrick Wilson, those scenes end up being the highlight of The Lost Kingdom. Once the two reunite, it suddenly becomes sort of a buddy comedy. And while that tonal shift is maybe a tad jarring, it makes the movie come alive in a new way. And the formerly menacing villain is now the straight man to Momoa's surfer dude schtick.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is back as the villainous Black Manta. In all honesty, his big-bug-eyed-suited villain from the first film wasn't exactly my favorite part of that movie, but he's back in the sequel this time as the official Big Bad (as opposed to King Orm in the first movie), and when Manta gets a hold of a cursed trident that possesses him with evil supernatural powers, it starts feeling more like a campy 90s superhero movie than something more serious. Yahya is fine in the role, but I can't help but feel like the character just lacks in general. Everything about the character seemed to come across better in the 2018 movie, and here it just feels a bit too over-the-top, if not entirely redundant.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
The content is on par with the first movie, with perhaps an increase in profanity use, including an incomplete use of the "F" word from Momoa. Without spoiling too much - and feel free to bypass this remark if you don't want to know - but a lot of controversy surrounded the film months before its release, suggesting that Black Manta would end up slaying Aquaman's infant son in the movie. Thankfully, that doesn't end up happening, but that doesn't mean Black Manta doesn't try. It does seem unfair that the movie was subject to inaccurate backlash before it had even been seen by anyone. (However, could that storyline have been changed following the rumor and before its release? It's hard to say for sure.) Otherwise, the action scenes offer a fair share of action violence with minimal blood. There isn't any excessive gore or anything, but you can expect some bloody scrapes and cuts along the way. There are also a couple gross-out gags, like Aquaman tricking Orm into eating a cockroach.

In the end, while Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom isn't the worst superhero movie of 2023 (The Marvels wins that honor), it may be the most disappointing. Wan has proven to be a capable director, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom would suggest otherwise. It's a big movie with great ambitions, but its delivery is haphazard, far too chaotic, tonally schizophrenic, and visually overwhelming. Here's hoping that it's only up from here for the future of DC movies.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 2/3/24)

 

4K UHD Special Features Review


The 4K UHD disc release of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom includes the feature film in 4K and bonus features on disc, along with a 4K MoviesAnywhere digital copy (But no Blu-Ray disc).

The Extras on the 4K disc include:

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in 4K UHD: The 4K quality of the film is actually really good. It's noticeably better than even just a standard Blu-Ray. Besides the enhanced color palette, the clarity is obvious, right down to the hairs on characters' heads. I definitely recommend this movie in 4K UHD. As for seeing the movie a second time? I can't say my feelings about the movie improved at all, but I also wouldn't say they necessarily worsened either. It's not a good movie, but it has its entertaining moments for sure. It is probably a pretty accurate representation of DC's cinematic universe up until this point, with the franchise having more weaker entries at this point than strong ones. With Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom serving as the end of the current iteration of the DCEU, I'm curious where the studio may take it next.    - John DiBiase, (reviewed: 3/11/24)


As for the rest of the special features, here is a PR-written rundown of what you can expect with this set:

Finding the Lost Kingdom 

  • Go behind the scenes as director James Wan reveals how he and the cast and crew pulled off their biggest endeavor yet, an epic sequel to the largest grossing film in the history of DC.

Aquaman: Worlds Above and Below

  • When the filmmakers set out to create a sequel that eclipsed the original in scale and scope, they knew they would have to send Arthur and the rest of the cast to all kinds of new wild and wonderful worlds both above and below the sea. 

It’s a Manta World 

  • Black Manta is more powerful than ever now that he has discovered the Lost Kingdom of Necrus and taken possession of the Black Trident. From inspiration to execution, filmmakers reveal how they leveled Black Manta up to the realm of supervillains.

Necrus, The Lost Black City

  • Ages ago the great battle for the earth took place here, in this legendary lost Atlantean city. Discover how the filmmakers created the Black City from its “surface city” concept and its inhabitants: Undead Necrusians (Zombies), to its execution.

Escape from the Deserter World 

  • From idea to execution, explore how the filmmakers created this barren desert landscape and the Deserter Prison, how its creatures and inhabitants were brought to life, and how they planned and executed the daring Orm “breakout” sequence.

Brawling at Kingfish’s Lair 

  • The Citadel is the last frontier of the ocean, a deep trench filled with sunken old ships, stacked high like a rusty city. From concept to completion, discover Kingfish's Lair, a bar within, where the worst of the worst hang out.

Oh TOPO!

  • The Tactical Observation and Pursuit Operative Octopus is a living legend and all-time fan favorite. Director James Wan and the filmmakers discuss the decision behind bringing TOPO back to the sequel and its promotion to Arthur's on-screen sidekick.

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” Premium Digital Ownership contains the following special feature:

Aquaman Through Fire and Water – Original motion comic from DC

  • Arthur Curry is constantly being pulled between two worlds - his responsibility as King of Atlantis and his mantle as Aquaman, defender of the surface. So, what happens when a nefarious attack puts those worlds on a collision course 

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” 4K UHD and Blu-ray contain the following special feature:

Atlantean Blood Is Thicker Than Water 

  • At its core, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a movie about brotherhood. Explore how Patrick and Jason bonded over the new unexpected alliance between Arthur and Orm and came together both as characters and as friends on and off set.


 

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: Mera shows some cleavage in her suit; Some female fish creatures wear busty bikini tops;
. Vulgarity/Language: 1 incomplete "F" word, 8 "S" words, 1 "g*dd*mn," 2 "*ssh*le," 8 "a" words, 1 "S.O.B," 1 "d*ck," 1 "cr*p," 7 "h*ll," 1 "p*ss," 1 "suck," 1 "My G-d," 1 "G-d," 1 "d*mn," 1 "b*stard"
. Alcohol/Drugs: Arthur and his father have drinks together.
. Blood/Gore: A man with blood on his face is thrown against a wall; We see a baby with its umbilical still attached and a little blood on him during birth in the surface of the water; We see a closeup of Orm's face with a visible scrape on his chest; Black Manta (David Kane) has big scars across his face; Dr. Shin's nose bleeds and he has blood on his hand after dabbing it; A laser shoots Mera in the chest and throws her into a rock wall. We then see severe burn marks on her neck and chest; In the next scene, those burns look bloody and raw; We see a very large, bloody and gory dead rat with large bugs eating it. We see its flesh and some of its exposed ribs; David sticks a knife up to Dr. Shin's throat and threatens him. He then pulls it back fast, nicking his chin and we see some blood on it; A wounded woman has blood coming from her mouth with some blood on her forehead and cheek; A flashback shows the black trident stripping skin from people’s faces ask they turn to skeletal monsters; There's some blood when a man is stabbed in the abdomen. We later see his bare stomach with a dark red area off to the side of the screen; A woman has a bloody lip and cheek; Dr. Shin has an abrasion on his forehead; We see blood splattered from Arthur's mouth with some on the ground; A man has a lot of blood on his face; We see a large crab-like creature with a stub of an arm, missing its claw.
. Violence: A man with blood on his face is thrown against a wall. Other victims are dragged bound at their hands by pirates to the wall; Aquaman charges the pirates to fight them and throws them around and against the wall. When they're first about to collide (Aquaman and the pirates), it cuts to Arthur telling the story to his baby boy, using action figures to act out the scene; We briefly see a clip of Arthur fighting a big creature in a cage match; A quake causes the ground of ice to crack and split. Two men fall through into an ice chasm; A large tentacle opens up at the end and grabs a man by the chest with its claw mouth. It drags him away as he screams; Manta puts together a broken trident and sees a vision of his dad dying in the first movie and creatures underwater; Dr. Shin's nose bleeds and he has blood on his hand after dabbing it; A submarine opens fire on another sub and destroys it; Mera and Atlanna fight off some machines. A device knocks Atlanna out with a pulse field. A chase ensues with Kane fighting the Atlantians; Mera punches through a glass window and a laser shoots her in the chest and throws her into a rock wall. We then see severe burn marks on her neck and chest. Arthur attacks David and throws him against the rocks; Alien creatures grab and punch and shock Orm while he's in prison; Arthur punches/fights and then rides some big bug creatures; Orm jumps from the water rejuvenated and fights off some aliens with a spear, impaling one on the head, and knocking another out in the head with the butt of a rifle; We see the jungle rustling in the background with monster noises as people are eaten; Arthur puts a glass mask on a large fish and interrogates him by removing the water inside. He then breaks it to free him as they shoot their way out and escape blaster fire; Orm bites the head off a large cockroach and continues to eat it; A large butterfly lands on a large plant and the plant eats it; Large bugs chase Arthur and Orm; Large plants attack and eat the large bugs; Dr. Shin touches the trident and sees a vision of monsters and other unsettling things; David sticks a knife up to Dr. Shin's throat and threatens him. He then pulls it back fast, nicking his chin and we see some blood on it; Orm beats a bad guy and takes his gun; Arthur knocks out a couple more bad guys. He then stops Orm from shooting a guy and punches him hard to the floor instead; An explosion throws Arthur and Orm out a window to the ground below. A fight breaks out where they beat up a bunch of guys in underwater suits; Arthur knocks a crane into a bad guy, causing him to blow up against a rock wall; A huge tentacled metal machine attacks Orm and tries to smash him. Arthur fights the machine and Orm swings an anchor into it; A wounded woman has blood coming from her mouth with some blood on her forehead and cheek; An explosion knocks Orm to the ground; Manta punches Orm, sending him flying. Orm and Arthur then fight him together, getting knocked around. Manta uses his laser beam eyes to fry Orm's chest; Arthur throws Manta into a large rock; A sound wave pulse throws Arthur backwards and a rock lands on him. Mera then comes to his aid; A flashback shows the black trident stripping skin from people’s faces ask they turn to skeletal monsters; A man is stabbed in the abdomen. We see a house burning and the injured man stumbling out; A missile blows up a glacier wall; A sonic disrupter blows up the inside of a sub, killing bad guys inside; Arthur's team fight large underwater worms and insects; Arthur impales 2 creatures with one stab of a spear; Manta hits Dr. Shin in the back with a charged whip-like of device; Manta is about to stab a baby with a knife when Arthur hits mask of Manta by throwing his trident. The two run at each other and he punches Manta into a rock. They then fight each other with tridents; Manta is about to kill Arthur when Mera uses water to push Manta away. Manta throws a trident at Mera and it almost hits her in the face, but Orm catches it at the last moment; Arthur catches Kane's punch and he hits him hard, knocking him down; A possessed man tries to stab Arthur; An explosion destroys a room and a creature inside of it; A man falls when the ground collapses underneath him; A man falls into a chasm; A building and rock walls collapse.

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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