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February 27, 2024

Critics Underwhelmed by “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”

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Dec 22, 2023

The much-anticipated “Aquaman” sequel is making a lackluster splash with critics as it hits theaters, providing a disappointing capstone to the tumultuous DC Extended Universe film franchise.

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‘Aquaman 2’ Gets Lackluster Reviews

According to early reviews aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” is failing to make waves with critics as it heads for theaters this weekend. The sequel currently holds a disappointing 45% rating on the review site.

While director James Wan “doubles down on the weird” after the original film grossed over $1 billion globally, critics say the overstuffed story and thinly-written characters make the 2-and-a-half-hour film a slog.

Lackluster Story, Visuals Can’t Save Sequel

Several reviews praise Wan’s ambitious visual imagination, but note the messy storyline fails to justify the sequel’s existence. The Guardian calls it “an unfunny, incoherent, explosion-filled mess” that “adds no depth” to the frustratingly sparse Aquaman mythos. The Daily Telegraph argues the film “never attempts anything original or honest.”

Momoa, Heard Fail to Impress

While Jason Momoa is still “perfectly cast” as the trident-wielding superhero according to IndieWire, his macho charisma can’t compensate for the messy sequel. Amber Heard also returns as Mera, but lacks chemistry with Momoa. Variety notes “neither character shows any interiority or authentic pathos.”

Torpedoed ‘DCEU’ Franchise

The disappointing “Aquaman” sequel caps off Warner Bros.’ flailing efforts at a Marvel-style shared “DC Extended Universe” franchising experiment after recent DC bombs like “The Flash” and “Black Adam.” The studio is now shifting focus to standalone character stories instead of interconnected films.

As Variety notes, ”‘Aquaman 2’ marks the end of an era” for ambitious DC team-up movies, but likely not the end for further scattered Aquaman solo outings.

Lower Box Office Predicted

Industry analysts predict a significantly lower opening box office for “The Lost Kingdom” compared to the original’s record $68 million domestic debut. Current projections peg the sequel for a $40-55 million start. The film will need strong word of mouth and repeat viewings to come close to reaching the first movie’s $1.15 billion global total.

Background:

Ever since Marvel Studios’ shared “Avengers” universe became a box office phenomenon, Warner Bros. has struggled to establish its own lucrative interconnected on-screen world centered around classic DC superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.

After false starts like “Batman v. Superman” and “Justice League,” 2018’s “Aquaman” emerged as an unlikely billion-dollar smash that gave renewed hope to the studio’s DC efforts. Now the sequel arrives with disproportionately high expectations, meant to keep DC’s cinematic universe afloat while recent efforts like “Black Adam” have underperformed.

Year Film Worldwide Gross
2016 Batman v Superman $874 million
2017 Wonder Woman $822 million
2017 Justice League $658 million
2018 Aquaman $1.15 billion
2022 Black Adam $397 million*

Key Players:

  • James Wan – Director of horror hits “Saw” and “The Conjuring,” helmed megapopular first “Aquaman” film
  • Jason Momoa – Rising action star propelled to A-list fame as muscular, tattooed “Khal Drogo” in “Game of Thrones”; plays Aquaman
  • Amber Heard – Actress whose role as Aquaman’s love interest Mera expanded after arrival in “Justice League”
  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Acclaimed actor from “Watchmen” returns as vengeful villain Black Manta
  • Patrick Wilson – Dynamic actor known for “The Conjuring” films reprises his role as Ocean Master

What Critics Are Saying:

“Nothing in this sequel matches the propulsive energy of the first film…just offers more of what we’ve already seen before to lesser effect.” – Boston Herald

“Even with heavily rewritten characters and newly introduced mythological figures, ‘The Lost Kingdom’ feels like a retread.” – USA Today

“‘Aquaman 2’ seems to exist primarily to give director James Wan an excuse to go nuts creatively.” – Yahoo

“Jason Momoa’s effortless charisma makes the movie watchable even when the storytelling gets wonky” – IGN

What’s Next?:

The disappointing critical reception and lower box office expectations for “The Lost Kingdom” likely ends Warner Bros.’ hopes of an interconnected on-screen DC Universe to compete with Marvel.

But the studio isn’t giving up on Aquaman. Given the first film’s huge financial success, Momoa’s muscular star appeal as the hero, and the unrealized potential in Atlantis lore, observers expect a second sequel or spinoff to arrive eventually. Wan and Momoa remain committed to the franchise.

But the next Aquaman solo outing will likely see a smaller budget, less pressure, and more of a streamlined, character-driven approach. For now, the studio turns focus to upcoming DC-based films centered on individual heroes like “The Flash,” “Blue Beetle,” “Batgirl” and a new Superman reboot.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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