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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Movie Review – Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

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IN THE DC ‘Expanded Universe’ of films, there’s only one hero who brings an instinct for fun to every scene – along with an awareness of his own ridiculousness – and that’s Aquaman.

Specifically, that’s Aquaman as played by Jason Momoa, who refashioned the half-human prince (and later king) of Atlantis, aka Arthur Curry, as a brawny, long-haired, beer-chugging, high-fiving, wisecracking bro, who bears quite a bit of resemblance to an actor named Jason Momoa.  

Momoa achieves peak Momoa in ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’, a sequel wherein the big guy tries to save the planet from returning bad guy Black Manta, aka David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

Black Manta wants revenge against Aquaman for killing his dad in the first movie and has allowed himself to be possessed by the spirit of the Black Trident, which was forged by denizens of the seventh kingdom of Atlantis, a necropolis filled with demonic creatures. 

Black Manta is dangerous to himself, as well as others, and not as in control of the awesome weapon he wields as he thinks he is.

His plan involves the use of a glowing green ancient power source, that’s like radiation times a zillion, and it is accelerating the pace of climate change (the film’s title is etched into the face of a collapsing glacier). 

Not a good situation at all and definitely the kind you’d want Aquaman to handle.

Momoa is as alpha-cool, even jerk-ish, as a ‘maverick’ action star can be, while also making you believe his character is fundamentally decent and knows when he’s gone too far and sincerely feels bad about it. 

One minute, he will practically be doing his own smart-alecky running commentary on the film he’s in and, in the next, he’ll weep bitter tears or scream out in anguish or vengeful fury over some dastardly action by a bad guy, as if he’s acting in a silent-movie melodrama with title cards. 

By Matt Zoller Seitz

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