After months of delays, online memes, and jokes, Jason Momoa and the director James Wan reunite for Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom. The 15th and final movie in the DCEU is written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, based on a story by Wan, Johnson-McGoldrick, Thomas Pa'a Sibbett, and Jason Momoa.
Having failed to defeat Aquaman (Momoa) in the previous film, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is still driven by the need to avenge his father's death and will stop at nothing to take Aquaman down once and for all. This time, Black Manta is more formidable than ever before, wielding the power of the mythic Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient and evil force.
Aquaman seeks help from his imprisoned brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), the former King of Atlantis, to save his family and the world from destruction. The two must join forces despite their differences to protect their kingdom and prevent irreversible damage. Many of the characters from the first Aquaman movie make an appearance in the sequel.
Amber Heard reprises her role as Mera, Arthur's wife and the mother of their son, Arthur Jr. Nicole Kidman plays Atlanna, the former queen of Atlantis and the mother to Arthur and his half-brother Orm. Dolph Lundgren portrays Nereus, the ruler of Xebel and Mera's father. Randall Park returns as Dr. Stephen Shin, a marine biologist obsessed with finding Atlantis's lost city. Lastly, Temuera Morrison plays Tom Curry, Arthur's father, a lighthouse keeper.
As a film critic and a fan, I have never had a significant problem with the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and enjoy watching its movies once. However, I can understand why some fans of the original comics have recently criticized the films. It is no secret that James Gunn's DC Universe (DCU) will begin in 2025 with Superman: Legacy. So, the question is, does the DCEU end with a bang or a whimper?
First, let's address the controversy surrounding Amber Heard's character Mara. According to rumors and online reports, her character has only about 10 minutes of screen time, but in reality, she has a little more than that. Although her character has little significance, her character arc doesn't demand much either, so the screen time she gets is adequate.
Despite a few weak moments of terrible dialogue delivery, Jason Momoa is still having a good time as the titular character. Momoa delivers the one-liners, throws a punch, and eludes sex appeal for the ladies. The film's real strength is his relationship with Patrick Wilson's character as they both engage in witty banter reminiscent of an eighties buddy cop flick.
The rest of the supporting cast delivers heightened performances of their character from the first film. However, I found Yahya Abdul-Mateen II tapping too much into Kilmonger-esque rants. Nevertheless, Mateen holds his own and still has a commanding screen presence.
The action sequences in the film were engaging, but I see some pursuits taking issue with all of the CGI and slow-motion shots. In addition, while this is a comic book film, it suffers from a weak narrative structure, resulting in a lack of cohesion and confusion for the audience. The film is ticking off boxes on a checklist rather than creating meaningful and engaging scenes that flow seamlessly from one plot point to another. As a result, the story lacks substance and will fail to captivate some viewers.
The final film in the DCEU doesn't necessarily sink, but it is a bit of a shallow finale.
Final Grade: C+
Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom opens in theaters today.