Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom movie poster

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

In theaters December 22, 2023



124 minutes

Directed by:

Starring: , , , ,

Let’s get this over with so we can pretend it never happened. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) is not good. For a Warner Bros feature presentation, the same studio that gave us Barbie (2023) and closed 2022 with Babylon, what we have is 124 minutes of fish vomit. Fish vomiting is rare, so when it happens, it’s an indication of a fatal condition and time for little Chips to visit Sea World by way of the nearest commode.

Who cares what it’s about the backstory you get in the first ten minutes is a mish-mosh of a backstory that was part Aquaman (2018) and part transcribed fever dream from a film that wasn’t actually produced. Everything else that unfolds over the next 104 minutes is Arthur complaining about responsibility while splitting time between dry land where his baby son lives with Grandpa Tom (Temuera Morrison) and under the sea where he has to be King of Atlantis. Apparently being king is boring because he never shuts up about it. Other returning Good Guys are Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), Orm (Patrick Wilson), and King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren). Antagonists are Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who’s still salty from the actions of the original, and his rescuer/hostage Dr David Shin (Randall Park). There’s a convoluted plan to accelerate global warming so Manta can get at the gooey center of a glacier in the Antarctic, obtain a mantle of power, destroy Aquaman, and rule the world. Shin regrets most of his choices and whining comprises the bulk of his on-screen time.

The whole of the story has a very loose, sophomoric feel. Jason Momoa is listed as one of the writers, and yes, it contains the dialogue of a man who likes acting cool but only learned how to act cool from 1960s rebellion movies. If he had sleeves, there’d be a pack of smokes rolled up in them.

Right off the bat, everything about Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom looks artificial, like a fresh wig right out of the bag, four-day-old lip filler, and red velvet cake box mix-artificial. Every scene has a green-screen shimmer to it, and the scenes that were green-screened weren’t digitally smoothed. The casual viewer may find themselves thinking, is this an actor, or has everyone been replaced with CGI? I thought that a lot, as if scenes not needing dialog were inserted and CGI scans used to speed up postproduction. Hailey Bailey’s The Little Mermaid (2023) has a more polished look and she spent most of the movie chilling with an animated crab.

And can we please stop putting Fish People Movies in the desert?

I don’t like trashing hard work, especially for an industry that’s been so maligned over the last eight months, but Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom looks awful. It looks rushed and incomplete, and the story is sloppy. Jason Momoa for all of the irreverence of Arthur’s previous appearances, feels the most ad-libbed, and not in a good way. He’s very strong and he’s very pretty, but unless there’s a director willing to work with him on his delivery, he will never not look like all of his roles were better suited for silent films.

There’s a certain actress whom I won’t name because I refuse to give her ink, who probably looks the most artificial, outside of the seahorse that actually neighs or the genetically enhanced octopus who acts rings around Wilson and Mamoa. Every time she was on screen (screentime that audiences were assured would be diminished because no one likes her) – the screening I attended went dead silent. Whatever diminished role she may have had, there was still plenty of screen time. It’s like seeing your high school bully accept an award for saving kittens she pretends she didn’t strap to branches in trees.

There are better movies to close out 2023, like Blue Beetle, or John Wick 4. Maybe even Nimona on Netflix. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom should be way down on your list of “Things To See Before 2024”, right alongside Necrotic Big Toe and Overfull Fast Food Dumpster.

This is a hard pass.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) is rated PG-13 for swears, people getting punched in the face, people getting shot, people getting run through, and underwater zombies.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.


  1. I just wanted to say that I tremendously liked this review. I’ve been going over the various critics reviews to decide if I should watch the movie and the moment I started this review, I couldn’t help but keep reading, taken by your creativity and imagination. The review stood out so much from the rest of articles by its fresh, sharp and witty language, and the amount of visible care that was put into the writing. The only unpleasant thing I was expecting to see was praise of a certain actress which I still – to my surprise and disdain- see in 9 out of 10 reviews. I was so pleased to find the opposite – appreciate honesty and integrity of this article.

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