Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Gimmie back my trident!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: January 11, 2024

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Aquaman’s nemesis Manta returns possessed by an ancient evil, with plans to take down both the human world and the Kingdom of Atlantis!

We launch right into a game of catch-up just as soon as the film begins, taking off at breathless speeds as Arthur Curry aka Aquaman, balances being married to Atlantean royalty Mera (Amber Heard) with their new baby inevitably Arthur Jr. and all that entails a life lived on the land, plus oh yeah, being the reluctant King of Atlantis and all the political stonewalling from the Royal Council, responsibility for the lives and safety of the aquatic denizens of Atlantis, and all the problems and headaches there. This is a hard act to juggle, and Arthur is eternally grateful to his adoptive father Tom (Temuera Morrison) for always being willing to help out watching his grandson, giving Aquaman sage advice when he’s struggling, forever quietly proud of his Polynesian ancestry and the family he made for himself here, where the land meets the sea under his lighthouse.

The flip side of this idyllic if tiring life is Aquaman’s old nemesis David Kane aka Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), armed with the genius of the entirely naïve Dr. Stephen Shin (Randall Park), a determined lieutenant called Stingray (Jani Zhao) and whatever old Atlantean tech he can get his hands on, is on the hunt for more Atlantean tech to fix his busted Manta suit. Because we’re still, still, on about getting revenge for Aquaman killing Kane’s father, in the previous movie. And Kane does hunt down a lost artifact far more powerful than his blasted suit, the legendary but lost for good reasons Black Trident.

See the thing about artifacts in superhero movies especially, is that the things used to belong to someone, and most likely that someone was powerful, likely magical, and inclined to either great good or horrific evil. Guess which one the Black Trident is?

Time’s passing and the whole planet is starting to be affected by the bad things – greenhouse gases, extreme weather, oceanic modifications, the culmination of all of that – and Arthur thinks his best option is to go break his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) out of aquatic prison to help him fight off Kane and his plans for worldwide destruction! Everyone has to give their opinion on this rather crazed plan of action, especially Arthur’s mother Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and Orm’s dad King Nereus (Dolph Lungren), though they do come willingly to aid when Arthur gets inevitably in the clutch.

Things are all coming to a head for a showdown between Kane and the forces of evil behind the real owner of the Black Trident, and Aquaman and all the forces of good, both land and sea, he can muster to fight with him!

It’s a good movie, fun and light-hearted and full of jokes at the leads’ expense, never taking things too terribly seriously despite the purported world-ending scenario. The CGI for the floating hair of the denizens of Atlantis is better done than the previous film, though it still strikes me as highly improbable for aquatic humanoids to have long hair in anything other than braids. The version of the film I saw was in IMAX 3D and that was entirely unnecessary, the transition of 3D between scene shifts needed a bit of work. Jason Momoa steers the film with the cheerful recklessness and obstinacy of a surfer against a taller-than-you breaker, always on the verge of a smirk turned into a charming smile, breathlessly whisking we the audience along on the adventures of Aquaman and pals. Rumor says this second installment of Aquaman will be the last film in what is known as the DCEU, the slate of DC superhero movies before James Gunn and Peter Safran reboot the whole thing in 2025, and if that’s the case, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is a perfectly fun movie to go out on.