‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ Review: A True DC Film Until the End

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Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ is the final DCEU movie before the DCU reboot under the leadership of James Gunn. Of course, while the last few DCEU movies were marred with problems that allowed fans to understand why a reboot was now necessary, ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ looked to surprise fans with its own unique approach to the DCEU branding. Now, let’s look at what we think about this film.

Aquaman’s internal conflicts

One of the best parts about the entire ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ storyline was how character-centric it was. It focused a lot on Arthur Curry’s own internal struggles and conflicts without departing from the true essence of what the film was supposed to be.

Basically, Arthur is now juggling between different responsibilities after the events of the first ‘Aquaman’ movie. He is now the king of Atlantis but is also a husband to Mera and a father to Arthur Jr. He loves his role as a father but struggles to juggle it with the many different political problems that being the king of Atlantis comes with. On top of that, Arthur’s heart still lies on the surface world, and that’s why he and Mera decided to live in Thomas Curry’s lighthouse.

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The job of being a king, however, was one that he needed to uphold regardless of his opinions on how boring the political world was and how complicated it was to juggle the different opinions of political leaders. Arthur’s main enemy in the political field was the council of clans because they always tried to undermine his efforts at being the best king he wanted to be.

Arthur’s conflict with the council and his identity as a human being was at an all-time high when Atlantis was suffering through a plague brought about by the pollution coming from the surface world. It became apparent that Arthur needed to find a way to save the people of Atlantis without necessarily putting the surface dwellers in the crosshairs of Atlantis’ massive army.

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As Thomas Curry told his son, simply deciding not to give up is already heroic on its own, and the movie was able to showcase how heroic Arthur was for trying his best to resolve his own personal struggles as the man who was supposed to bridge the surface with the seas. Anyone who has had to struggle with different responsibilities can relate to what Arthur went through. But the best part was that Aquaman faced his problems with the same comedic flair that made him a popular DCEU character. 

The themes of brotherhood and betrayal

On top of the fact that ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ was able to show Arthur’s own personal struggles, the narrative focused heavily on the themes of brotherhood and betrayal. It wasn’t a secret that Orm was going to return to the movie in a different role. This time, he became an unlikely ally to his brother because Arthur realized that he needed Orm’s help.

Instead of focusing heavily on sibling rivalry, the film zeroed in on the brotherly conversations that allowed Arthur and Orm to better understand one another. Sure enough, Orm was a bit of a prick in the first movie, but his actions were enforced by his desire to protect Atlantis and the seas. On the other hand, Orm was able to understand that his brother wasn’t supposed to be a rival but was only looking to find a way to keep the peace between the surface and the sea.

Brothers are supposed to fight and bicker, but Arthur’s relationship with Orm is one of the highlights of the film. It was a relationship that was brought about by their mutual desire to help Atlantis and keep it safe. However, the dynamic improved to a level that focused heavily on the importance of family.

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This was unlike the dynamic between Thor and Loki, who grew up together in the MCU, and the world of Marvel Comics. Instead, Arthur and Orm were only getting to know more about one another and were starting to realize that their initial opinions of one another were not entirely correct. The movie was able to do a great job of handling the progression of their relationship.

Of course, the theme of betrayal was also a big part of the movie. Without getting into the details, the film delivered tense moments that made fans think about Orm’s true motives and whether or not he was going to betray Arthur and the people of Atlantis at any given moment. 

The theme of brotherly betrayal harmonized with the fact that the main villain, Kordax, felt betrayed by his brother, Atlan, centuries ago. So, in a way, there were questions about whether history would repeat itself in relation to Arthur’s relationship with Orm.

An action-packed experience

At the end of the day, the bread and butter of any superhero movie is the element of action. While a lot of superhero films focus more on a character-driven approach that relies on delivering great lines and dialogues, ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ balanced the character-driven narrative with plenty of action scenes.

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James Wan’s direction was superb in the sense that the action scenes were incredibly organic and weren’t forced. The fight scenes were there for good reasons, and there were a lot of instances wherein these larger-than-life superhero figures seemed human when facing elements and entities that they were not familiar with. 

Unlike other DCEU films where the main characters seem unstoppable until an equally unstoppable force changes the tide, ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ had action scenes that displayed Aquaman’s strength and prowess in a manner that was a bit more grounded compared to its other DCEU predecessors.

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The best part was that there were seemingly no dead and dull moments in this film, especially when it came to how the action scenes were inserted organically. Some scenes involved moments between Arthur and the supporting cast of the film, including Orm. But these scenes often had plenty of action bridging them to make sure that the dull moments were minimal.

Overall, the movie was able to deliver a great experience as far as superhero films go. It wasn’t the best movie from a general standpoint. But if you look at its identity and how it squares up to the other DCEU movies, it becomes apparent that ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ stayed true to its roots and never tried to be anything it wasn’t from start to finish.

Score: 7/10

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