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  • Writer's pictureAbrean Smith

"Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" Sinks at the Box Office

Less than a month ago, the new Aquaman film from DC hit theaters, but it didn't make quite the splash that the studio thought it would. Could this finally mean the end of superhero movies being the dominant genre at the box office?

Though Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom sank so far in the box office, the film tells the heartwarming story of two brothers mending their relationship. However, from the way the film was marketed, it’s abundantly clear that wasn’t its main intention. A lot of the movie is rather strange as there are a lot of different things going on that didn’t end up working as one cohesive film. However the story is not what’s lacking at least when it comes to the relationship between Orm and Arthur. Jason Momoa once again put on a stellar performance as Arthur Curry and his delivery got a few chuckles out of me in the theater. Patrick Wilson plays the prideful younger brother too well and perfectly leans into Momoa's performance to create amazing chemistry. My biggest problem with this film? The pacing. Unfortunately superhero movies are falling deeper and deeper into the trap of feeling both rushed yet too long. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is no exception. This film feels very choppy in its pacing when it comes to major plot points and doesn’t do a great job of tying everything together in a neat and natural way.

For example, the beginning of the film focuses heavily on the disconnect that Arthur feels between the council of Atlantis and his dissatisfaction with his own performance as king. He even expresses to his own brother later in the film, that he didn’t want to take the throne in the first place and if Orm “wasn’t such an asshole” he would still be king. Though a viewer might interpret that as Arthur’s acceptance that he is not meant to be king and set him up to hand the crown back to his brother, he decides in the end that despite making several risky decisions throughout the course of the film, revealing Orm’s significant contributions to the success of his mission is not a risk he can take. Though it would have arguably been a more cliche and unrealistic ending, allowing Orm forgiveness of the Atlantians as his reward for the loyalty he demonstrated as well as making Arthur solely an ambassador who communicates with the land dwellers on behalf of Atlantis would have made for a neater ending.

In addition to this, the film suffered severely from the choice to only give Amber Heard 11 lines. In a film where one of the points driving the story are two of the main characters becoming parents, it’s only natural that those two people are going to spend a lot of time speaking to each other. A lot of the time Heard seems like she is just there to fill space and it is almost awkward how often she just stands in frame without speaking. It might have been better to just cut her character out of the film entirely as it is quite distracting to the viewer to have to keep questioning why this woman isn’t more supportive of her husband’s struggles in his job, why she doesn’t take a more active role in the first few months of her son’s life, or why she isn’t having a bigger reaction to the kidnapping of her baby.

This film also lacked in its marketing strategy. From watching the trailer, I could tell just how all over the place this movie was. The trailer was just as pieced together in a jumbled narrative as the film was. Some of the best moments of the film were parts that showed off the amazing chemistry between Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson. Both the trailer and the film should have leaned into this brotherly relationship for three reasons: 1. The majority of the film was the two brothers anyway, 2. It would have made Amber Heard’s lack of lines less obvious, and 3. It would have gotten rid of the sense of chaos that the film exudes.

Despite all the ways that this film suffered, it’s not a bad film. Every member of the cast gave a stellar performance and did not leave room for anything more to be desired. Even Amber Heard, who again only has 11 lines, did a great job. As someone who doesn’t typically enjoy superhero films, I didn’t feel nearly as overwhelmed and overstimulated by action as I usually am. Allowing the viewer to get emotionally invested in the characters and their relationships; specifically Arthur and Orm, is something that this film does well. In addition to this, the attempt to address global warming is interesting and though I don’t think that the sensationalized news clips do the message justice, it is something that needs to be addressed. Putting such an important issue in an anticipated piece of entertainment media such as this isn’t a bad idea to get people talking about climate change. It's a shame how lost it gets within this chaotic everything film, though a precedent has been set that can be considered by future screenwriters that also consider themselves environmentally conscious.

Overall, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom isn’t a bad film per se, but it definitely falls short of being a great one. Its lackluster performance in the box office reflects the mediocre concoction of footage that is this film. There are several aspects of this film that give it the potential to be great but unfortunately, it seems the writers weren’t able to decide on one cohesive plot and we ended up with something that felt rushed and unfinished. To sum up the feeling of this film I’ll use an old saying from my grandmother: “too many cooks spoil the broth.”

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