Released in 2018, the first Aquaman movie delivered a refreshing take on the DC Extended Universe, infusing the superhero genre with a blend of high camp, stunning visuals, and oodles of surrealist humour. Fast forward five years, and director James Wan returns with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, a sequel that takes the aquatic hero on a new, if not exactly as exciting, journey.

The film opens with Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) leading a dual life, balancing his responsibilities as the King of Atlantis and his adventures on land. Married to Mera (Amber Heard) and raising a son, Arthur Jr., Aquaman faces the challenges of royal duties and bureaucratic conflicts within the Atlantean council.

The plot takes a dark turn as Arthur’s nemesis, David Kane (Black Manta, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), resurfaces with a vengeful agenda and a plot to destroy his one true enemy. Arthur is then forced to team up with his estranged brother Orm (the usually impeccable Patrick Wilson is totally wasted on a disappointingly two dimensional character) in the hope of defeating Manta’s army – shades of a sibling rivalry akin to Thor and Loki are clumsily explored, but fail to make a lasting impression.


Sadly for all involved, things only go downhill from here as the film unfolds as a series of deeply convoluted ideas awkwardly stitched together by one of the franchise’s flimsiest screenplays. And just when you believe things couldn’t possibly deteriorate further, the film hits an unfortunate low with what can only be described as the single most cringe-inducing homage to Star Wars ever witnessed — Jabba the Hutt reimagined as an overweight, pampered fish, anyone?

The first Aquaman saw James Wan fully embrace the weirdness of its subject in the most outrageous way. Here that knowing playfulness is replaced by some of the most gross and juvenile humour I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing. Even Momoa, an actor usually capable of mixing the serious with the silly, is left looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights. He and Wilson never quite get back into the game, which in all fairness is less their fault and more of a case of bad writing throughout. For her part, Heard – hugely likeable in the first film – is sadly relegated to a secondary role in which she barely features for more than a few seconds at the time.

As the shine continues to wear off the whole superhero film genre, with audience expectations shaped by hits like  Avengers: Endgame, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom struggles to find its footing among the plethora of blockbuster releases, making it a lacklustre addition to the DCEU. Here’s hoping the new appointment of former MCU enfant terrible James Gunn, could breathe a new lease of life into this embattled franchise. 

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
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Linda Marric
Linda Marric is a senior film critic and the newly appointed Reviews Editor for HeyUGuys. She has written extensively about film and TV over the last decade. After graduating with a degree in Film Studies from King's College London, she has worked in post-production on a number of film projects and other film related roles. She has a huge passion for intelligent Scifi movies and is never put off by the prospect of a romantic comedy. Favourite movie: Brazil.
aquaman-and-the-lost-kingdom-reviewAquaman and the Lost Kingdom struggles with a juvenile tone, a pendulous script and a cast who can't mount the shifting sands of those challenges. Another low point for the DCEU.