Review: Mediocre but fun ‘Aquaman’ sequel splashes into theaters

Jason Momoa in Aquaman (Warner Bros.)

By no means is director James Wan’s latest effort “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” a great movie.

It’s a middle-of-the-road superhero action movie that’s all fanfare and aquatic CGI fluff, but if you like action and superheroics, the film is fast-paced, fun and not the worst way to while a couple of hours away at the movie theater.

Now this isn’t the type of movie that’s going to make you think or cry, although it does have a plot that embraces the danger of greenhouse gases and global warming.

It’s not a movie that will make any film critic or movie pundit’s top-10 list. In fact, the movie has a rotten score on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

But, it is colorful, fast-paced, and action-packed. Plus Jason Mamoa as the outgoing and outrageous Aquaman and Patrick Wilson as his stick-in-the-mud half brother Orm give the film a nice comedic punch, playing the odd-couple schtick as if their life depended on it.

The basic plot of the film finds David Kane/Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Matten III) possessed by an ancient aquatic evil spirit when he obtains the black trident. Through his nefarious machinations, Black Manta increases global warming prior to his attack on Atlantis.

In the attack, Black Manta injures Aquaman’s wife Mera (Amber Heard) and later he kidnaps their son Arthur Jr. He’s going to use the baby’s royal blood to raise the evil entity Kordax back to life.

Realizing that he needs help, Aquaman then travels to the Fisherman kingdom to free his half brother Orm so the two can team to stop Black Manta’s plans.

The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and if you are a fan of Marvel’s “Iron Man,” you’ll notice the homage to or ripoff of that film’s final scene during the conclusion of the Aquaman sequel.

The special effects were fanciful but mostly strong, with any number of Star Wars-type creatures and characters to make you ooh and ahh over.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom ()

So, again, the movie’s not exactly Shakespeare or even Scorsese, but it was fun. I actually liked this sequel better than the first Aquaman movie, which made more than a billion dollars at the box office.

It’s tighter and cleaner, running just a few minutes over two hours. There is a mid-credit scene that might make you smile despite it being rather silly and entirely inconsequential.

This film mercifully wraps up the DCEU, which began a decade ago with the release of “Man of Steel” in 2013.

The new DCU series of films is set to start all over again with “Superman: Legacy” in the summer of 2025. The film will be written and directed by DC co-studio head James Gunn, who steered “The Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy for Marvel.

He and co-DC studio head Peter Safran have the daunting task of rebooting DC super-hero characters during an age when even mighty Marvel is fumbling with its own series of superhero pictures.

The only DC-oriented film set for release in 2024 is “Joker: Folie a Deux” next fall, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga. It is not connected to the DCEU or the upcoming DCU.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 4 min.
Grade: C+

New in Local Theaters – Dec. 22, 2023

  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (PG-13) 2 hr. 4 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Town, Skylight
  • Migration (PG) 1 hr. 31 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Town, Skylight
  • The Iron Claw (R) 2 hr. 12 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Town
  • Anyone But You (R) 1 hr. 44 min. (trailer)
    AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Town

Classic Movies for Christmas Weekend

James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan in The Shop Around the Corner (MGM Studios)

Where did the month of December go? It seems like it was Thanksgiving just last week, and now we’re headed into a big holiday weekend with Christmas Day on Monday providing three days off for many.

While we know the whole world doesn’t stop turning for Christmas, it does slow down just a little bit, and hopefully you’ll have some extra free time with loved ones in the coming days.

If watching a Christmas movie(s) at home is on your docket, Turner Classic Movies is running a steady diet of holiday fare through Christmas Day.

» See the complete listing of films that will be shown

And here are a few highlights:

The Bishop’s Wife – 7 p.m. (CT) Friday

“The Bishop’s Wife” stars Cary Grant as the angel Dudley who comes to Earth to help a wayward minister David Niven at Christmastime and while doing so, inadvertently falls in love with the minister’s wife, played by the lovely Loretta Young. Few things say Christmas like the opening scenes of the film, and the rest is awfully good, too.

The Shop Around the Corner – 7 p.m. (CT) Saturday

“The Shop Around the Corner” (1940) is a tight, beautifully shot romantic comedy by Ernest Lubitsch, starring old friends Jimmy Stewart and Margret Sullivan as co-workers who dislike each other, but who fall who fall in love with each as pen pals, where they can more easily open up their hearts to each other. The film is set during Christmastime, and it inspired remakes “In the Good Ol’ Summertime” (1949) and “You’ve Got Mail” (1998).

Beyond Tomorrow – 6:30 a.m. (CT) Sunday

“Beyond Tomorrow” is charming yet cautionary fantasy from 1940 in which three older gentlemen become guardian angels of sorts to an engaged couple James, a cowboy crooner, and Jean, a school teacher, they introduced prior to their deaths in a plane crash. The film, directed by A. Edward Arthur, features no major stars, but film buffs might recognize cowboy actor Harry Carey and Maria Ouspenkaya (the gypsy Maleva from “The Wolf-Man”) while enjoying this well-crafted B movie.