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“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” reviewed

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 neon submarine wreck of a sequel wherein the big guy tries to save the planet from returning bad guy Black Manta, aka David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who 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 a glowing green ancient power source that’s like radiation times a zillion, and is accelerating the pace of climate change (the film’s title is etched into the face of a collapsing glacier).

Momoa is the best reason to see the movie. He’s 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. And he’s got range. One minute, Momoa 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.