Review: Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Posted in Action, DC, Film Reviews, Film Reviews 2023, Genre, Superhero by - December 22, 2023
Review: Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)
PG-13  ‧ DC Superhero / Action  ‧ 2 Hours 4 Minutes

Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick

Directed by James Wan


 Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Randall Park, Dolph Lundgren, Temuera Morrison, Martin Short, and Nicole Kidman. 


(In their own words). After failing to defeat Aquaman the first time, Black Manta wields the power of the mythic Black Trident to unleash an ancient and malevolent force. Hoping to end his reign of terror, Aquaman forges an unlikely alliance with his brother, Orm, the former king of Atlantis. Setting aside their differences, they join forces to protect their kingdom and save the world from irreversible destruction.


The BEST things about the film

  1. Special Effects – There are lots of special effects in this film. Probably not many frames of the film without it. It’s like watching a video game cut scene for 2 hours. 
  2. Message – They tried to warn people against the dangers of global warming. This film made me think, “Maybe we should hurry it up so we don’t have to see an Aquaman 3.”


The WORST things about the Film

It’s really hard to narrow down to just a few short answers what I HATED about this film. There are many reasons to dislike this rotting pile of fish carcasses that DC delivered for a film. I’m mostly mad at myself for giving it a chance and seeing it when Warner Bros and DC obviously had no confidence in the movie. They screened it for the press two days before the release date with an embargo on us to not speak about it until the day before the release date. They knew. THEY KNEW! I gave up time with my family around the holidays to see this; I was hoping for something good. So, I’m saying I’m not as mad at DC as I am at myself. I’m disappointed in DC because they have so much potential with decades of material to work with. However, they came up with two hours of an excruciatingly boring superhero film where the best part of it was the bad acting. 

So, let’s make it easy and do something fun for this review. Here are ten things I hated about Aquaman.

  1. The Acting – This is Jason Mamoa’s worst performance. Ever. Every time he screams, “My son!” or whatever other boring line they gave him, It looks like he is doing a cold-line reading for an audition. “Hey, I almost believed you were Aquaman for a second. Next!”
  2.  The writing – Bad acting starts with the bad writing. The credits list one person as the writer, but the “Story by” is five different people. That’s just too many voices in the room. This creates a film with no singular voice, style, or heart. This is “writing by committee,” which may work for the technical writing of a 1995 Microsoft Access user manual but not for a film. 
  3. The Villain – Why? Why must we return to the same bad guy as the last film? Cause he wants vengeance? And that’s it? His singular goal is to kill Aquaman. No other goals or things he wants? Just going for the one thing, huh? So…..yeah. I get it. Aquaman is to blame for the death of his father. This single-dimension villain character may work in a comic book, but it gets boring quickly on screen. Do you want me to care about this film? I gotta hate the villain if I’m gonna root for the hero. The characters need depth. I find it terribly ironic that a film that takes place in the ocean has the shallowest characters of any DC film.
  4. The Story – Long and convoluted. Okay…..films should be epic. But does the plot need to be that complicated? Some pretty amazing epic films have a simple plot: Titanic, Guardians of The Galaxy, Captain America, and Superman (pre-Snyder). How many times do we really need to raise armies to fight? Every film? Come on. 
  5. Too Much Reliance On the First Film – I only realized how unmemorable the first Aquaman was once they clearly expected me to remember a lot of the last film. And my slight memory of relationships from the first film doesn’t create emotional connections between characters. So, I ended up not caring about most of the characters and needed to be emotionally invested for the film to work. Sequels need to be able to stand alone. I can drop into any Iron Man film and get the relationship between Stark and Pepper Potts. Each movie is self-contained, and seeing the previous ones only adds to the enjoyment; it isn’t completely dependent upon the other film. 
  6. Same Tricks Over and Over – I wish I had a quarter for every time a character was just about to get killed by a Trident or something……when all of a sudden….Someone appears to stop them. It’s bad enough that this trick is used in most movies once… don’t do the same trick 5 times in the same film!
  7. The “message’ On Repeat – The film certainly tries to have a message behind it. Warnings against global warming and climate change and unintended consequences of all of it. I don’t mind that message, but it’s the fact that they repeat that message every 10 minutes throughout the film. OKAY, I GET IT! I AM ON YOUR SIDE!

Okay, I’m only doing seven things I hate about the film. “But Silas, you said you would do 10 things.” Yes, that feeling you have of being let down having been promised something that didn’t deliver… that’s how I felt when I left the theater.


Global warming has unintended consequences. That’s the message. You’ll know because they say it like 50 times.


No. But if you manage to watch it, be prepared to forget everything that happened in it within a week.


I like video games, so I enjoyed the special effects that made the movie feel like a video cut scene most of the time. However, I was there to watch a movie. I left the theater deeply disappointed in not just the film but also the life choices that led me to be there. What’s wrong with the film? Where to start? Jason Mamoa’s performance is awful. The film’s writing is uninspired, and it lacks a singular voice. The villain’s character is seen as one-dimensional, and the plot is convoluted and overly reliant on the first film. Frequent use of clichéd scenes and the repetitive messaging on global warming make me want to beat my head in with a trident. The film’s inability to stand alone as a sequel and its lack of re-watch ability make the best thing about the film is how forgettable it will be. Maybe I won’t remember that time I left my family during the holidays to bore myself in a theater for two hours. 

My 3L system gives me the choice to Love It, Like It, or Lose It. 

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom gets “an Avatar “

(that’s whatever is below Lose It)



This post was written by
When he’s not reviewing films or interviewing people for the Black & A Half podcast, Silas Lindenstein can be found in the greater metro Seattle, WA working as a real estate agent helping people buy and sell homes, or performing stand up comedy to fellow nerds. He has a wife and three children and desperately wants to learn to make the perfect homemade pizza.

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