‘Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom’ engages viewers and provides new insight into the world of Atlantis

By Esther Fultz

(Spoilers for “Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom” ahead)

I have a confession. Growing up, I never enjoyed DC. While I heard of the characters and knew the basic plotline of some stories, the movies never really appealed to me. In my head, DC films were pure action and violence, and while I love action films, I need something more. I need a genuine connection with the characters. I want to be rooting for them not just because they’re the “good guy” but because I actually like them.

Despite my initial misgivings, and not particularly high ratings, I went to see “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” in theaters yesterday with my boyfriend for his birthday, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated. The plot expands well on the first Aquaman movie, which I watched a couple of weeks earlier in preparation, and contrary to my assumptions, I was able to relate to the characters.

Since the previous film, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) has gained a lot of responsibility. The movie opens with a heroic battle between Aquaman and a group of pirates attacking a ship – a scene viewers quickly learn is acted out with action figures to entertain his infant son. In addition to his rewarding but often exhausting responsibilities as a father, Aquaman is learning that being a king is not all it is chalked up to be. The council meetings he is required to attend seem constant, and he is frustrated by the fact many Atlantians still want to obliterate surface dwellers. 

Meanwhile, David Kana aka the Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is still seeking to avenge his father’s death and is ready to come back stronger than before. Kane and his team discover a Black Trident frozen under ice that gives him magical powers and special knowledge, including the ability to locate orichalcum, an environmentally harmful fuel able to bolster the power of the Black Manta and supporting villains. After Kane and his team raid orichalcum storage units and the Atlantians become aware of their presence, Aquaman launches a plan for counterattack involving his brother Orm who has been banished from Atlantis since Aquaman reclaimed the throne.

Brothers Aquaman and Orm reunite to fight against the Black Manta.

The theme of family relationships kept me engaged throughout the story. Aquaman’s son plays a major role in his life, and he is thrilled at the beginning of the movie when he discovers his son is able to speak to the sea creatures in the same way he can. While Aquaman’s relationship with Orm (Patrick Wilson) is anything but normal, certain elements of typical sibling relationships are present – practical jokes, sarcasm, rivalry, and at the end of the day, loyalty. Aquaman and Orm agree to unite despite their differences, and in the end, Aquaman agrees to let Orm live in peace outside of Atlantis and Orm encourages him in his role as king.

Another highlight for me was the worldbuilding throughout the film, particularly towards the end when Orm reveals important information about Necrus, the lost kingdom of Atlantis. After refusing to stop burning orichalcum, the king of Necrus and his people, who he had forced to follow him using the Black Trident, were frozen and put under a spell by the true king of Atlantis. All mention of Necrus had been removed from historical records, and the spell against the kingdom could only be undone by someone from the king’s bloodline – meaning Aquaman, Orm, their mother or Aquaman’s son. Aware of this through the Black Trident, the Black Manta decides to go after Arthur Jr., making the final battle in the movie not only about Aquaman saving the world but also fighting to protect his family.

This leads to my one criticism of the movie, which is that the ending is rather anti-climactic. Despite Aquaman’s efforts to prevent the undoing of the spell over Necrus, his blood is eventually shed, and the king of Necrus momentarily comes back to life. However, Aquaman quickly puts an end to this by using King Atlan’s Trident to shatter the Black Trident, causing the Necrian king and all of his subjects to die. After the extended buildup to this moment, I had hoped for a more action-filled scene rather than an immediate victory.

Overall, I appreciated the film. While I am by no means a diehard DC fan and opinions from other viewers haven’t been so positive, “Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom” captivated my interest and made me more open to watching more movies like this in the future. Aquaman’s strong morals and heroism combined with his light-hearted, fun-loving personality make him a character truly worth rooting for, and the film ended on a high note as he sought harmony rather than disunity with the surface-dwellers. Overall, I would recommend this film, and I would encourage anyone reading this to step outside their comfort zone in 2024 and go see a movie they might not usually watch. You never know, you might enjoy it.

“Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom” is currently playing in theaters

Esther Fultz is a senior Social Work major and the Off Campus Editor for Cedars. When she’s not writing or editing for Cedars she enjoys thrifting, making coffee, exploring new places, and spending time with friends.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

1 Reply to "‘Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom’ engages viewers and provides new insight into the world of Atlantis"

  • comment-avatar
    jeff albertson January 10, 2024 (8:55 am)

    Great thoughtful review. I also enjoyed the Film!