Aquaman and Lost Kingdom stumble but don’t completely sink

In one moment Aquaman and the Lost KingdomThe characters run through a mutant forest, pursued by lion-sized cockroaches while avoiding violence. Man-eating plants. And in another moment, Multiple personalities They stand around us, their hair flowing wildly, delivering wooden dialogue that is as painful for them to say as it is for us to hear.

This combination of positive and negative It is a great representation of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. It’s a movie that tries to be everything at the expense of being anything. Sometimes it’s goofy and exciting. Other times it’s serious and stoic. But unlike the 2018 original, Which found a strong balance between those things, this sequel struggles to blend highly complex narrative and lofty themes alongside big, fun action set pieces. It’s not completely terrible, but more often than not, it feels like a tedious effort.

When we last left Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), he had defeated his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) and become king of Atlantis, a vast underwater kingdom hidden from the surface world. Now, perhaps a year or so later, Arthur and Hera (Amber Heard) has a son, Arthur Jr., and finding a way to be a father and a king at the same time becomes difficult. These early scenes are among the best in the film, allowing Momoa to play his eldest child while also opening up new possibilities for the character, a hero torn between two worlds. Unfortunately, this is forgotten very quickly.

Orme and Arthur.

Orme and Arthur.
picture: Warner Bros.

This is partly because one of Arthur’s old enemies, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), searches the world for technology that will help him fight and defeat Arthur. He soon finds a mysterious and powerful black trident that grants him ancient powers that he can’t quite explain. Manta and his crew instantly become more powerful than ever, and to find and defeat him, Arthur must seek help from his imprisoned brother.

Starting from this point and moving throughout the film, the main plot emerges Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom It all seems very complicated and lengthy. Manta’s discovery of the Trident comes after a bit of a busy exploration series. Arthur’s need for Orm means he has to confront the council he’s a part of and betray one of his allies, while also defeating some random insect monsters. There’s also a lot, we mean a lot, to talk about the ancient and deadly power source that plays a big role in the story. Then, once Arthur and Orm form an unlikely alliance, their journey takes them to several different locations, such as an entire pirate hideout that’s pretty cool to look at, and features Martin Short voicing Jabba the Hutt’s underwater character called Kingfish, but he adds almost none of the The memo.

Then there’s the promise of the title, this mythical lost kingdom, which you imagine plays a major role in the film (it’s in the title after all) but is held back until too close to the end, making it feel incredibly unnecessary. . Items are graded throughout of course, but once we get the big narrative explaining the lost kingdom and everything around it, you’ve basically got it figured out and just want to get through it to get to the big ending.

picture: Warner Bros.

The grand finale is when director James Wan, who is usually amazing, gets to flex his muscles. There are great 360 degree camera movements. Terrifying and daring angles as we discover key new locations. And as the movie gets more interesting, you realize something: you’ve been watching a James Wan movie for about 90 minutes and nothing about it stands out visually yet. Are there wonderful creatures? Ships? Entertainment work? certainly. But all of that is overshadowed by the film’s desire to take a relatively simple basic story and blow it up for the sake of excess padding. Whether that’s true or not, the climatic battle scenes have a more cohesive and composed feel, as if they’re trapped while everything changes around them.

However, for all its flaws, there are plenty of moments where it is Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom It can be a lot of fun. Jason Momoa, as usual, is really fun to watch. He and Patrick Wilson have great chemistry and a bunch of great scenes together. Amber Heard’s Mera, who is rumored to be cut from the film or at least cut, has some really big heroic moments. Characters ride giant insects. Giant seahorse. Nicole Kidman drives a shark. Additionally, there have been several attempts to make the film about something other than Aquaman vs. Aquaman. Black Manta, all of which give the feeling that the movie would be better than it is, but then fail to deliver. One example of this is the political tension between the underwater worlds. The other reason is the story’s impact on the global environment. But ultimately, the best moments are forgotten because, like the rest of the film, they are all over the place.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom It’s certainly not the worst movie in the modern DC Universe, but as a follow-up to one of the best, we expected more. It feels like a movie that was more influenced by what was going on behind the scenes at DC than anyone involved would care to admit. Because if not, everyone involved came up with too many ideas and decided to put them all out there. The result is a film that doesn’t sink, but doesn’t swim either. It’s just kicks and kicks and hopes to rise to the top. but no.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Now in theaters.

This review appeared in the original On io9 from Gizmodo. Want more io9 news? Check when to expect the latest marvel, star WarsAnd Star Trek Releases, what’s next for DC Universe in film and televisionAnd everything you want to know about the future Doctor Who.

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