Last year’s King Arthur movie may have flopped, but director James Wan — whose horror beginnings (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) show up in ways both annoying (frequent use of explosion-as-jump-scare) and delightful (there’s a reason H.P. Lovecraft’s novel The Dunwich Horror makes a foreground appearance early on) — seems to have chalked it up to the film’s straight-ahead story and setting. Better, perhaps — certainly more bankable — to follow Logan (Western) and Black Panther (Bond movie) and stick its hero in the superverse. And also dunk him underwater — sort of. Sometimes, Aquaman (Jason Momoa, competent) moves through liquid the way Superman moves through air. Other times, he and his fellow denizens of the deep seem to swim a bit. It’s complicated. Along the way, there are family and political squabbles, cultural explorations, a treasure hunt, a totally superfluous fan-service sub-villain, a stultifying love story laden with leaden banter — the dialogue and acting throughout are distractingly bad — and lots and lots of action sequences. It’s overstuffed. But oh, those action sequences: this is what the Tron sequel should have looked and sounded like. A fascinating physics-lite atmosphere of limitless scope (water subbing in for cyberspace), alternately mesmerizing and urgent synths on the soundtrack, ships and critters that seem half-made of light, and hyperkinetic camera motion that should be dizzying but isn’t. If only everything else were that good. With Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, and Amber Heard. (2018) — Scott Marks
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