Film: Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Cast: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Randall Park, Temuera Morrison, Dolph Lundgren, Martin Short, Jani Zhao, Indya Moore, Vincent Regan.
Director Of Photography: Don Burgess
Director: James Wan
Runtime: 124 min
This sequel to ‘Aquaman’ seems a little lost in all the computer graphic imagery it has set out for itself. From underwater shots to sand dunes and ice lands, the movie goes erratic in its rather futile search for adventure and thrills.
The big guy, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman aka The Current King of Atlantis (Jason Mamoa), tries to save the planet from returning bad guy Black Manta, aka David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who wants revenge against him for killing his dad in the opening scene of the first movie. Kane is now possessed by the spirit of the Black Trident, forged by demonic creatures, denizens of the necropolis known as the seventh kingdom of Atlantis.
Black Manta is dangerous because he has plans involving the use of a glowing green ancient power source that radiates killer energy a zillion times more effectively than radiation. This power can also release the entombed denizens of the seventh kingdom to wreak havoc on the surface as well as the ocean. To link this to climate change James Wan inserts a collapsing South Pole glacier in the film’s title sequence. But what transpires thereafter has little to do with any cinematic climate activism and more to do with a distracted array of effects that just don’t come good.
Aquaman as played by Jason Momoa, is a re-designed half-human Prince/King of Atlantis – a brawny, long-haired, beer-guzzling, wisecracking, high-fiver bro who bears little resemblance to the comic book hero and owes his origins, quite a lot of it, Jason Momoa himself. It’s a fun turn no doubt but it feels a lot like sacrilege.
The good thing though is that Aquaman must turn to his imprisoned brother Orm Marius, aka the Ocean Master(Patrick Wilson, who plays it rather straight), the former/ deposed King of Atlantis, to forge an unlikely alliance to save the world from irreversible destruction. Some chemistry between the two warring brothers keeps this soggy tale floating upstream. Mamoa’s self-aware witticisms and Wilson’s good looks and charm make the argumentative bro-buddies-on-a-mission putting their estrangement aside to save the world, come good for a bit. The redemption arc with Orm and Aquaman admitting to mistakes made and learning from them, is a message that plays out strongly. Dolph Lundgren, Nicole Kidman, Amber Heard are just celeb names to be parried around here. Their presence is never felt.
The initial sense of fun is lost in the melodrama that follows. There’s way too much clutter in the dysfunctional exposition and chaos in the visual design. The 3D effects don’t have dimensional gravitation to make it look good all around. Nothing much registers even if it’s all a breeze at 124 mins.
This sequel fails to be distinctive and gravitating. The borrowed ideas, the nonviable referencing, the thread-bare story, and the inconsistent design and pacing don’t allow for any buoyancy. Apparently, this is the final chapter of the DCEU and how it plays out tells us quite clearly that the DC expanded universe needs to reboot big time!