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  • Jeff Beck

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom: An Unfortunate Final Chapter for the DCEU (Blu-ray)


The Film:


We come to it at last, the official end of the DC Comics Extended Universe, or as it's perhaps more commonly known, the "Snyderverse." It's certainly been a rather rocky road for these films over the last couple of years, with the box office returns matching up with the films' negative receptions, but DC has continued to soldier on in hopes of delivering one final hit before the upcoming major overhaul courtesy of James Gunn and Peter Safran. If ever there was a chance to do it, an "Aquaman" sequel would seem to be the best shot, especially given that the first film made over $1 billion worldwide. Could director James Wan et al. possibly pull this thing together and send the DCEU out on a grand high note?


"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" picks up a few years after the first film, and finds that Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) has married Mera (Amber Heard) and had a son. Nowadays he divides his time between trying to rule Atlantis as King, and spending time with his family on land. Meanwhile, David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) seeks vengeance against him for killing his father, so in order to fulfill that desire he sets out to fix his power suit by hunting for Atlantean artifacts. This leads him to a powerful black trident that possesses him, while promising to help destroy his enemies. Soon after, David begins a plan that has immense global repercussions, forcing Arthur to turn to an unlikely source for help: His half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson).


Revisiting the first film for a brief minute, it certainly had its fair share of problems. For starters, Aquaman is not the most compelling character in the first place, and sticking him in a repetitive story that gets continually interrupted with sub-par action scenes certainly didn't do it any favors. However, even with these issues, it had still managed to be one of the better DCEU films at the time, that is, in comparison with out-right disasters like "Justice League" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."


Turning to the sequel, it's fair to say that not a whole lot has changed. We once again have a rather rote narrative that goes on pause throughout so our heroes can fight the bad guys in action sequences that do very little in terms of eliciting excitement. As it did before, it really just comes down to the story. This is one of those plots where you can see practically every beat well before it happens, and when you couple that with its overly-simplistic nature, it simply makes the film a slog to sit through.


As far as its more positive elements, the cast is certainly up to the challenge of trying to make the material work, with Momoa delivering a decent amount of charm, and the visual effects are pretty impressive for the most part. However, it all just makes you wish that it had been in service to a film with a lot more effort put into the writing, instead of one that felt like it was outlined in about five minutes. The writing has always been the single biggest problem in the DCEU, resulting in films that end up being instantly forgettable simply because the writers didn't try to do anything more than the bare minimum.


"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" merely ends up continuing the trend, and ultimately sends this universe off on another mediocre note. However, as mentioned, the overhaul is underway, and indeed an overhaul is exactly what these properties need. After multitudes of scathing reviews, and a series of epic flops, its good to know that the future of DC is finally in the hands of someone who has already shown us several times that he truly understands the fundamentals of superheros and how to incorporate them into films that actually work. Here's hoping that there's a bright new future ahead for these beloved heroes.


Video/Audio:


"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" comes to Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. Most of the film is rather dark, but the image remains perfectly sharp & clear throughout its duration, ultimately doing a fine job of highlighting the film's extensive visual effects. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos-TrueHD audio track is marvelous, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and music in outstanding quality. Overall, this is another entry that Warner Bros. has done a fine job on for its debut physical home release.


Special Features:


Finding the Lost Kingdom (21 Minutes)

Aquaman: Worlds Above and Below (10 Minutes)

Atlantean Blood is Thicker Than Water (4 Minutes)

It's a Manta World (10 Minutes)

Necrus, The Lost Black City (6 Minutes)

Escape from the Deserter World (8 Minutes)

Brawling at Kingfish's Lair (4 Minutes)

Oh, Topo! (2 Minutes)


The Blu-ray comes with just over an hour of featurettes that go behind the scenes of the making of the film, exploring areas such as the various settings & characters, accompanied by interviews with cast & crew (including plenty of input from director James Wan).


Conclusion:


"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" marks an unfortunate final chapter for the troubled DC Comics Extended Universe, one that once more succumbs to weak writing and a remarkably predictable narrative. With the reboot coming up, we can only hope that, in better hands, the beloved superheroes of this universe will be handled in a far better fashion and truly given the chance to thrive that most never received in these renditions.


Score: 2.5/5


Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.


Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.



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