Provided one can look past the fake hair that waves horribly under the ocean, the unimaginative and predictable plot, and the biased reviews (it fares a little better than Rebel Moon with a 43 rating at Metacritic) — all three aspects, mind you, aren’t that hard to look away from — Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom turns out to be a fun, divergent two-hour-killer one may be in the mood for.

A big step up from the last Aquaman, the film, again directed by James Wan (Insidious, Conjuring), was fated for doom because of two people: Amber Heard and James Gunn.

Everyone has heard about the Heard-Johnny Depp fiasco. The uproar from both the press and the public is vocal and dismissive for the actress. The same dismissal, albeit for a totally different reason, holds for Gunn, if one takes a bird eye’s view of the DC Film situation of late.

DC’s films of late (The Flash, Black Adam, Blue Beetle), have been of abysmal quality, with equally disastrous runs at the box-office. The bad business isn’t a result of bad reviews; it is just that no one wants to spend a dime of their hard-earned money on a series of movies that is all set to be left up in the air because a new, rebooted series of films — courtesy of Gunn — will soon be taking their place.

As the fi nal story of the present DC Film Universe, Aquaman 2 just wants to be fun.And that may not be all bad

Alas, the reasons rob the audience of a cinematic experience. Aquaman 2 (let’s call it that), is quite an expensive movie, with a lot of action, a rapid pace, corny dialogues and a cliched family angle: everything one expects from watch-and-forget-it escapist entertainment.

The story has Arthur Curry (Jason Mamoa, Aquaman) bursting his brother Orm Marius (Patrick Wilson) out of prison to fight against Black Manta (David Kane, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who has got hold of a cursed trident that will doom the world.

It is a story one has seen so many times that one can predict what is going to happen 10 minutes before it does. Despite this, Aquaman 2 feels like a complete movie experience.

Undergoing an intense structural revisit during post-production, whatever that had been edited out does not compromise the story at hand; the sequence of events have a jolt-less, seamless stitch to them. The smoothness — and the standalone nature of the story (there is no mention of any other DC film), adds to the happy-go-lucky mood of the film.

Three minutes in and one knows that they’re not going to see good acting, nor a plot that wants to pile-up fake, grandiose solemnity in order to present itself as a serious superhero film. As the final story of the present DC Film Universe, Aquaman 2 just wants to be fun.

I, for one, don’t see the harm in that. Who knows, maybe you’ll think so as well.

Released by HKC Films and Warner Bros., Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is rated PG-13 (suitable for ages 13 and above) — it is a standard rating for a standard film

Published in Dawn, ICON, December 31st, 2023

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