Reviews are in for Aquaman 2 and it’s a fittingly tepid end for the DCEU

Aquaman holds the Trident of Atlan in Aquaman 2.
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics)

The early reviews are in for Aquaman 2, aka Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and they're not good. The big-budget DCEU finale features a typically charismatic performance by Jason Momoa and appears to have some fun moments, but a trawl through the reviews so far produces a haul of pretty negative comments. You should probably steel yourself for some very bad piscine puns.

Let's start with film magazine Total Film, which gives the sequel just two stars. While the review does find things to praise here, such as "when Jules Verne-esque technology like Manta’s Octobots collides with Atlantis’ psychedelic bioluminescence, a colourful contrast that gets to the heart of this watery franchise’s trippy appeal", the film doesn't have enough such moments and "really should have tried to make more of a splash."

Empire also gives the film two stars. Despite some fun bits, the ending "like so many of its predecessors, is a relentless onslaught of brain-numbing CGI that proves more headache-inducing than awe-inspiring... this is a disappointing send-off that sees the DCEU go out with a squelch rather than a splash."

The Guardian was even less impressed, awarding a single star: this "terrible" sequel "pollutes the DC ocean...  if this is the last movie in the DC Extended Universe it should sink to the bottom, never to be seen again."

Splash! A-aaaagh!

The Rotten Tomatoes rating is currently sitting at a rather soggy 36%, although there's a 77% audience rating so far. YouTube's Fish Jelly Films, which by the name makes you think it'd be quite fish-friendly, says it's "random, scattered, busy, pointless, corny, loquacious, and tedious". Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times says it "is waterlogged with boring villains and underwhelming visuals".

CNN found it deeply disappointing: "Lacking the sense of discovery and world-building that powered the original, director James Wan settles for a sort-of misguided buddy comedy". But The New York Times was more positive, arguing that "the movie is clever enough, and plenty scary, and there is a sufficient number of jokes to keep the whole thing from getting too self-important". 

That's still pretty faint praise, though, which is something of a common thread through the less negative reviews. The Mary Sue effectively says it's better than being thrown into the sea. "If you’re looking for somewhere to spend two hours of a chilly winter day, then Atlantis might be as good a place as any." It gives the film two and a half tridents out of five.

Perhaps the most damning review is from the BBC, which is trying to be nice. Tt says that it’s not "especially terrible... Any parents who fancy a two-hour snooze over the Christmas holiday while their young children are stimulated by loud noises and colourful lights could do worse than to buy some tickets."

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is in cinemas now and will be available to stream on one of the best streaming services in early 2024.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.