'Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom' review: A sorry sequel 2
Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson in 'Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.' Handout

'Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom' review: A sorry sequel

All the computer-generated underwater world and creatures felt very excessive, it did not exactly wow.
Fred Hawson | Dec 22 2023

Aside from his duties as King of Atlantis, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) also lived on land in the lighthouse of his father Tom (Temuera Morrison). His wife Mera (Amber Heard) had just given birth to their son, and he was still getting the hang of being a father himself. As King, Arthur wanted to enhance the political relationship of Atlantis with the surface world, something the Atlantean council was not agreeable to. 

Scientist Stephen Shin (Randall Park) was on an expedition searching for Atlantis and its artifacts. Tagging along with Shin was pirate David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who was intent to avenge his father's death at the hands of Aquaman. Kane found a broken black trident which glowed to life when he put the two pieces together, causing him to be possessed by Kordax (Pilou Asbæk), the evil brother of the first Atlantean king Atlan. 

Jason Momoa seemed to be acting like his goofy self a lot here, giving the sense that he was treating this role as a joke. He had wacky scenes (getting hit by pee while changing the diaper of the baby) and wacky lines (discussing how delicious burgers and pizza were with his brother), which were more distracting than funny, taking us out of the film completely. Just like "Thor: Love and Thunder," this misguided type of "humor" simply went too far. 

To help him fight the supernaturally-powered Black Manta, Arthur broke his half-brother Orm out of the prison where he spent his time after being usurped as King of Atlantis (by Arthur himself). While he was taking his role seriously, Patrick Wilson was too much of a pale contrast side by side with Momoa, his screen presence felt lacking. If your most memorable scene is the one where you chomped on a live cockroach, that is not too good. 

Likely as a reaction to her infamous court case against Johnny Depp, Amber Heard was barely present, and when she was, she was distant from Momoa. You may even get the idea that Arthur was raising the baby on his own, with his father Tom. 

Lacking his usual screen charisma, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II did not make much of an impression as David Kane. As Stephen Shin, Randall Park only felt like a comic relief all the way through. 

All the computer-generated underwater world and creatures felt very excessive, it did not exactly wow (except for the seahorse). The action felt so cold, there was a sense of distance and fakeness about it. You cannot feel much for any of the characters, including Arthur, especially since Momoa himself was having too much out-of-place "fun." It begged the question, why did director James Wan allow too much foolishness in this sorry sequel? 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."