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Aquaman 2 is a suitably messy ending to the DCEU

And so the day finally came. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom marks the end of the DC Extended Universe or DC Worlds or SnyderVerse, whatever you want to call it.

The sequel caps off an awful 2023 for DC movies as Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, and Blue Beetle all failed at the box office, but at least the latter was a critical success. A lot is riding on Aquaman’s shoulders this Christmas, although you can’t say the signs are promising.

Reviews were blocked until the day of its release in the UK, despite the film appearing in cinemas elsewhere in the world. There was no promotion from the cast except for select interviews in the US, and there wasn’t even a flashy premiere. It’s easy to forget that this is the sequel to the highest-grossing DC movie ever.

But now that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has swum into theaters, you can see why the sequel didn’t make more waves before its release. It’s a suitably messy way to end the entire DCEU.

jason momoa aquaman and the lost kingdomjason momoa aquaman and the lost kingdom

DC Entertainment – Warner Bros.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Aquaman (ignoring that weird cameo in The Flash credits scene), so the opening sees Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) catch us up on his life in a montage silly and fun that sees him give his life. to his son Arthur Jr.

The opening promises that the sequel will continue the same quiet tone that made the first film an entertaining success. Unfortunately, it’s not long before the sequel devolves into the darker comic book sludge that has marred much of this universe’s efforts.

Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is back and still angry at Aquaman for killing his father. His search for Atlantean technology to give him the edge he needs leads him to the Black Trident. Just one problem: she’s connected to an ancient force that could lead to the destruction of the world.

We won’t spoil who this ancient evil is, but even if we wanted to, we’re not sure we can tell you what they wanted anyway. Their motivations remain unclear and point to a choppy sequel that’s toned across the ocean, where “bros” banter mixes with grim warnings about real-life climate change.

jason momoa, patrick wilson, aquaman and the lost kingdomjason momoa, patrick wilson, aquaman and the lost kingdom

Warner Bros.

Momoa has long been clear that the sequel is based on an idea he had, and you can tell it’s a personal story for him. Like the first film, its culture is incorporated into this version of Aquaman, and the sequel expands on the environmental aspects of the first film.

There is talk of rising temperatures on the planet and melting ice caps, woven organically into the plot. However, it then boils down to being a faceless villain’s plan that he carries out through Black Manta. It’s good to see a blockbuster film tackle this sort of thing, but it has to mean something, otherwise it’s just The Day After Tomorrow comic book.

Maybe it was something extended in a previous cut, as you get the impression that Aquaman 2 was cut. Some aspects even feel like James Wan tried to throw in some ideas from the abandoned horror-tinged Trench spin-off.

There are frequent cuts to black rather than actual scene transitions, random throws of exposition when we need backstory or context, and repeated dialogue as a reminder of what’s happening. For example, the number of times a character says “Orichalcum” (the fuel used by Black Manta) could become a drinking game.

yahya abdulmateen ii, aquaman and the lost kingdomyahya abdulmateen ii, aquaman and the lost kingdom

Warner Bros.

If you’re coming to Aquaman 2 just for the action, then you might not be too upset about the plot. Whether it was cut or not, the result is a film that flits from one set piece to the next, as if it’s in a hurry to get it all done.

Whenever things slow down, you can appreciate the vibrant production design and visuals, just like in the first film. The problem is that the action set pieces are so fast that it becomes a digital blur, a craziness that gets worse if you watch the movie in 3D.

The most frustrating thing is that the whole thing is such a waste of everyone’s talent, even though the cast is definitely trying to make things come alive. (A special shout out to Topo as well, who gets an extended role this time around and steals the show.)

Aquaman is still a little annoying, bro, but Jason Momoa shows a softer side to him, and while his banter with Patrick Wilson’s Orm starts out as more “school bully being mean to a straight student,” it gets some laughs . sits. The likes of Nicole Kidman and Amber Heard also sell the stilted dialogue as hard as they can.

Patrick Wilson, Aquaman and the Lost KingdomPatrick Wilson, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Warner Bros.

The biggest firestorm comes with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Black Manta. In the first movie, he was a really interesting villain, but here he’s reduced to a mindless drone. Again, the talented Abdul-Mateen II tries to pick it up where he can – there’s just nothing to work with.

But maybe this is all for the best. There won’t be a third Aquaman movie, at least not for a while, so it’s a good thing Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom doesn’t leave you craving another trip to Atlantis.

However, we would love to see a Topo spin-off. The drumming octopus is completely innocent.

2 stars2 stars

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is in theaters now.

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