Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Image

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

By Alex Saveliev | December 22, 2023

NOW IN THEATERS! James Wan’s Aquaman and the Last Kingdom is the stupidest superhero film I’ve ever seen. That list includes Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, all the Fantastic Fours, and, yes, Howard the Duck. Each of these films, despite their evident failures, had at least sparks of redeeming value, be it unintentional camp, unrealized ambition, a go-for-broke attitude, a good performance, or whatever. The latest Aquaman has no redeeming value. Judging by the audience’s reactions on the way out of the theater, it will have a hell of a time recouping its bloated $205M price tag. Who wants to be subjected to water torture for 2 hours?

David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick’s screenplay – if one could even call it that – steps wrong at every turn. What was supposed to be playful banter between the leads feels leaden, forced, and contrived, as if the writer simply couldn’t be f**ked to come up with a decent joke or pun here and there. The utterly moronic, overstuffed plot makes it nigh-impossible to describe, but here’s a nutshell summary: with Orm’s (Patrick Wilson) help, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) embarks on a mission to save the ocean kingdoms from Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who in turn calls upon dark forces by using an evil Atlantean trident, and…

Oh, f**k it. Does anyone really care about the plot in films like this anymore? The Lost Kingdom is a big middle finger to the audience, with no character development, no emotional arc, special effects that would have seemed blurry ten years ago, and Amber Heard. Clearly, the producers couldn’t replace or edit her character out, post-that-debacle, so instead they opted for reducing her character to the bare minimum requirements. Heard’s Mera shows up sporadically to serve the plot and then disappears, possessing the motivation of a sea anemone.

“…Aquaman embarks on a mission to save the ocean kingdoms from Black Manta…”

But then, the same applies to the entire narrative; “slap-dash” would be a compliment when it comes to describing the editing/pacing/headache-inducing assault on the senses that is this sordid excuse for entertainment. You’d think scenes of characters piercing waves on translucent seahorses, or Aquaman battling giant insects, or armies clashing would at least inspire an inkling of a sense of awe or wonder, but you’d be wrong. Like being stuck in a turbulent, spinning submarine, it just provokes seasickness and seems to go on and on.

Momoa hams it way up – as in, the dial’s turned to 100. It’s like he’s got nothing to lose: a pompous, self-aware, nearly humorless showcase of underserved star power. I liked him well enough in the first one, but his one-note shtick wears thin very quickly. Kidman phones it in big time, in perhaps one of the most embarrassing performances of her career. Was someone feeding her lines on set? Because, I swear, she hasn’t the soggiest clue what the eff is going on.

Add a dose of agenda-pushing, in this case, the Big, Poorly-Addressed Issue being Global Warming, and I’ll go even further than simply stating Aquaman and the Last Kingdom is one of the worst superhero films – it’s one of the worst films ever, period. But then, I thought Wonka was Catslevel atrocious, and behold: critics seem to like it, audiences are lapping it up. Perhaps with age, I am becoming an old curmudgeon. Or maybe I just expect more from our filmmakers and from the audiences that lap up whatever is served to them. I implore you to go see The Holdovers this Christmas season and not waste your hard-earned cash on dreck like this.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)

Directed: James Wan

Written: David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Starring: Jason Momoa, Patrick Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, Randall Park, Dolph Lundgren, Amber Heard, etc.

Movie score: 2/10

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Image

"…Oh, f**k it."

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  1. Lucious says:

    He couldn’t score a movie if I gave him a script myself.

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