The second ‘Aquaman’ is the final production of the ailing DCEU and a sad funeral for the universe that theoretically should have been a surefire success.

Marcin Konczewski

22 December 2023

The first act, despite a few clear signals in the narrative and dialogues, did not foreshadow the disaster that unfolds later. Oh, how wrong I was! Initially, it seemed to me that this was neither a better nor worse film than the first part. In the end, I got a movie-like product. Something akin to a backlog, a hastily completed assignment in a corporation, handed over with relief to the client.

The latest production of the ailing DCEU is a sad funeral for the universe that theoretically should have been a surefire success. However, it did not happen that way. And the eternal upheavals around changes in concepts, taking over projects, withdrawing directors, and Safran’s poor management do not explain it. The flaw of this world was already in its very premise – an attempt to copy the mechanisms of the MCU at its peak. However, this copying was done hastily, without proper origins, introducing characters onto the chessboard. There were some good things, like the first film about Arthur Curry. After that screening, I thought I hadn’t seen such a cliché, narratively weak film on which… I had so much fun in a long time. James Wan’s film impressed me with its world-building and the grandeur of depicting Atlantis. Maybe I left the theater somewhat overwhelmed by the number of colors, effects, blinking lights, but the positive impression and simple joy were undeniable. Therefore, it is doubly sad that the symbol of this poorly written universe will now be the second Aquaman. The last scene is almost a pathetic farewell to Momoa in the role because you can see his torment here, making Wan’s conscious kitsch not work as well as before.

Funny, because this charismatic actor was one of the most recognizable, interesting, and characteristic characters in this world. Here, his potential has been spectacularly botched through visible discouragement, playing with a pulled brake (rumors about circuses happening on the set apparently had some truth to them), and above all, a complete lack of idea in leading his character. If the writers and decision-makers are believers, they will really have something to confess. Aquaman can be… annoying and, in moments that should be dramatic, almost tragic. I won’t even mention the zero chemistry with Amber Heard. On one hand, Arthur Curry somewhat resembles that uncle at a wedding who used to be funny and even cool. However, that was a long time ago; life has pressed him to the ground, and the train to the BE ON TIME station has long departed. On the other hand, he’s an eternal child, only of the worst kind – a self-assured school celebrity who made fun of others. A nasty mix. However, it’s not that Momoa on the screen is bad all the time. He has moments, and the best is when he resonates with the truly good Patrick Wilson as Orm. He is, in fact, the only character here who undergoes some character development. Their chemistry is perceptible, but at the script level, it is… squandered. I must admit that a few times, especially at the beginning, I smiled when these two collided with each other. Later, it somehow disappeared, became a side plot, or at least one of many.

However, my biggest regret is for the skeletal plot of the film, which in this respect more resembles an incredibly derivative, absolutely boring event-building plan. The actions of the characters make no sense, no logic. And we probably have the worst villains in the DCEU here. Yes, the plural is justified because it’s really hard to say who (and why) is the villain here. Manta is a mockery because he’s supposedly in full Simba mode, but on the other hand, the guy seems possessed. Everything that happens with him is pretextual and absurd. I’ll just mention the treatment of the scientist character, which insults the viewer’s intelligence. It’s not worth discussing the second villain at all because, as it were, his story is quite… short. And I remind you that the best productions from the world of Batman and Superman were as good as the villain was strong and convincing. Paper, badly written characters are the first sin of the script. The second sin is the absolute predictability of the story. I conducted a little experiment based on the previews, trying to guess the plot, and largely succeeded. There are absolutely no surprises here, except those resulting from the lack of script consistency. At some point, I also realized something I didn’t expect to see in a blockbuster cinema – this film could totally do without female characters. The way they are treated here is somewhat… scandalous. The whole thing sometimes comes off as an unsuccessful, unintentional parody or unconsciously transferred to the narrative sketch in the style of a 1670′s joke when the most famous Jan Paweł in Polish history measured certain fringes with his noble colleagues. Very, very weak.

Creators of the effects and cinematographers deserve a rant. The visual side disappoints significantly. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom are monotonous, gray, and dull. Especially in comparison with the first part, where maybe there was too much in the finale, but intriguingly and colorfully, it just looks poor. The fight sequences are the weakest, where I couldn’t see anything at all. Everything looked like it got caught in some underwater vortex. I was also surprised by the completely mismatched music, which does not synchronize with what is shown on the screen. It somewhat looks like random, easily catchy classics of pop music are played, and the rest is supposed to flow somehow. It didn’t flow. It sank.

One would like to say: DCEU is dead, long live James Gunn’s new universe! Only I’m not entirely sure that in the era of the superhero cinema crisis (and blockbusters?), there is a chance to reinterest viewers in jokers. Most likely, no one will come to the wake after the franchise initiated by Zack Snyder, few people really care about it, and we are all tired of mediocrity and treating viewers like idiots. And chaos on the set, production turmoil do not explain it. Someone signed it, and it will stay on their CV.

Marcin Konczewski

Marcin Konczewski

The founder of the Kon (Horse) Movie fanpage, where he transforms into a film animal who gallops with pleasure through the multiverse of superhero productions, science-fiction, fantasy and all kinds of animations. If he had to say something about himself, he would say that Kon is a pop culture lover, a self-proclaimed critic constantly looking for a human in cinema, a fan of non games, literature, dinosaurs and Batman. Professionally, a teacher (by choice), always opposed to the concrete education system, strongly pushing alternative forms of education. He quietly writes fairy tales and fantastic stories for his little son. A Polish philologist by education. He collaborates with several publishing houses and YouTube channels.

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