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Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Updated: Jan 13

Exactly five years ago today, we saw the first Aquaman film in theatres and really enjoyed the levity Jason Momoa brought to his character.

Even Momoa can't save AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM, an occasionally funny buddy movie drowned by a boring villain and DC exhaustion.

The film opens with Arthur/Aquaman changing his baby son's diapers and grabbing his uniform off the laundry line in the back yard as Mera (a sidelined Amber Heard) irons clothes.

It's old fashioned domestic bliss until DC's least defined villain Black Manta arrives on screen. He's in search of a Lost Kingdom within the original tribes of Atlantis.....blah blah blah.

You can't blame Yahya Abdul-Manteen II, he's a terrific actor and stood out in a huge cast as Cal Abar in HBO's 2019 "Watchmen" miniseries. Here, he's saddled with what's surely the least intimidating bad guy costume in the DC world. His head looks like that paper mache head Vincent Price wore in "The Fly" after his own head was placed on that tiny fly body. Help me! Help me!

Black Manta submarines around the planet in search of the mysterious Black Trident. Thankfully Randall Park (The Interview) provides plenty of comic relief as his right hand scientist Dr. Shin.

Meanwhile, Aquaman is bored with the politics of being the King of Atlantis, he just wants to kick some bad guy's ass and drink some beers on the couch.

To fight Black Manta, he's forced to partner up with his brother Orm, who he's imprisoned for trying to destroy...blah blah blah.

The first 45 minutes of the film are slow and pretty boring beyond Momoa's general charm, but things improve dramatically when he busts Orm out of prison and they become a buddy duo out to get Black Manta.

Patrick Wilson is hilariously serious as Orm, the perfect straight man to Aquaman's constant taunting. When first grabbed from prison, Orm has been kept from water, turning him into a "Tom Hanks on an island for years" look-alike. Aquaman calls him "Castaway" and "Loki" at one point as they bound through jungles and underwater worlds.

There were several points where I started to wonder if Director James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) was trying to have fun referencing other films or if he was just out of fresh ideas.

Martin Short voices Kingfish, a slimy, bloated underwater creature who is so obviously Jabba the Hut it kind of stops the film.

There's no doubt that Wan can stage an action sequence and several battles are fun, especially the hand-to-hand combat when Aquaman just beats the hell out of anyone in his way. Momoa is hilarious.

But the finale sinks into that same "one thousand creates fighting each other at a time" malaise that's sunk so many of the DC features and some of the latest Marvel efforts. By the time the whales were brought in to battle with their sonar, I kept thinking about "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", a MUCH better movie than this one.

A lot of noise, action, and explosions can be fun, but I didn't feel like I saw anything I wasn't a little bored with five years ago in the conclusion of the original Aquaman film.

Dolph Lundgren has some nice moments as King Nereus, as does Nichole Kidman as Aquaman and Orm's Mom, trying to make sure her boys take care of each other.

If you can stay awake, there is some enjoyment to he had in the film's second half and it's thankfully only 124 minutes long, avoiding the traditional DC bloat.

As the final film in this incarnation of the DC universe, AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM sends the series out with more of a whimper than a bang, earning a waterlogged C.

There is one post-credits scene that's so lightweight and inconsequential, it's somehow the perfect coda to the film that precedes it.

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