It has been years since Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), or Aquaman, became King of Atlantis. He married Mera (Amber Heard) and they have a son, Arthur Jr. (played by three young actors). He spends time in both Atlantis and on dry land. His enemy, David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), also known as Black Manta, is a pirate and a mercenary who wears an Atlantean armored suit and obtains a powerful Black Trident, and he wants to kill Aquaman and his entre family to avenge the death of his father. He is partnered with a marine biologist named Stephen Shin (Randall Park). The black trident possesses Kane, giving him the power to destroy Aquaman.

Five months later, Kane attacks Atlantis and breaks into the orichalcum reserves to power up Shin’s Atlantean machines. Kane, it seems, is behind the rising temperatures on Earth as the orichalcum emits powerful greenhouse gases, which had helped to destroy Atlantis the first time. To find him, Aquaman breaks his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) out of a deep Atlantean prison. They meet with an Atlantean crime-lord named Kingfish (Martin Short), who points them to a volcanic island in the South Pacific. There, Aquaman and Orm discover huge creatures mutated by Kane’s orichalcum furnace. Orm gets hold of the Black Trident which was created by Kordax (Pilou Asbaek). King Atlan’s (Vincent Regan) brother, Kordax was the imprisoned ruler of the Lost Kingdom of Necrus. Aquaman and Orm go to Amnesty Bay and find that Kane has kidnapped Aquaman’s son. Necrus’s prison is in Antarctica.

In Necrus, Aquaman battles Kane to stop him from injuring Arthur Jr. and Aquaman is almost killed, until Mera saves him, and Orm seizes the Trident. The Spirit of Kordax leaves Aquaman for Orm, who battles Aquaman and uses his blood to thaw the ice, freeing Kordak. Aquaman hurls the Black Trident at Kordax, who catches it, but Aquaman uses his own trident to destroy the Black Trident and kill Kordax. The Kingdom of Necrus begins to collapse as Kordak’s magic fails. Kane hangs from a fissure, refuses Aquaman’s help, and falls to his death. The Atlanteans and biologist Shin escape. They decide to let Orm go and say that he was killed. Wanting to unite the land and the sea, Aquaman reveals the existence of Atlantis to the world and offers to join the United Nations. John  Rhys-Davies is charming as the Brine King.

The film was produced by DC Studios and distributed by Warner Brothers, directed by James Wan from a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick. The idea was pitched by Jason Momoa as the first Aquaman movie was being produced. It received mixed reviews and was called a disappointment by some critics. Amber Heard became a controversial figure during her divorce from Johnny Depp. She fought to keep her part, but it was significantly reduced. She was supported by her ex-boyfriend Elon Musk. The film has a kind of retro look, with monsters inspired by Ray Harryhausen, according to  production designer Bill Brzeski. It was, of course, impacted by the Covid Pandemic.

Critics liked Jason Momoa, but not so much the movie itself. They criticized the special effects, the editing and the storytelling, all of which were considered rushed. The special effects seemed okay to me, though they went by pretty fast, perhaps on purpose, but I did love the myriad creatures. Since Willem Dafoe was unable to play Vulko, Nicole Kidman’s role as Queen Atlanna was emphasized. It was the first time she had appeared in a sequel of one of her own movies. Aquaman’s blue stealth suit came from the 1986 Aquaman comics. His seahorse steed came from the comics and the Aquaman film of 1967. The film basically has one big thing going for it—Jason Momoa. The second-best thing is his relationship with Patrick Wilson as Aquaman’s brother Orm.  It is basically a buddy-movie about them.

It was chuck full of great visuals, which seemed to have been heavily influenced by Star Wars, Jules Verne, H.P. Lovecraft, the Lord of the Rings films, the Matrix films, and H.G. Wells. Always steal from the best. One wonders if the critics of the special effects have seen Ray Harryhausen’s work. It is said to be the final film in the DC extended universe, according to some, which would mean that Gal Gadot’s much-debated third Wonder Woman movie is in doubt. If this is so, they’re crazy, because her Wonder Woman is attractive in every conceivable way. But she and director Patty Jenkins insist that the third movie will be made. The DC universe could not be well-rounded without a strong showing from Aquaman, The Flash, and Wonder Woman.

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