Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
(M, 128 minutes)
I have enjoyed the last few superhero films I've reviewed, and there have been a lot of them including The Marvels and Blue Beetle. But none of them have set the box office on fire and perhaps audiences are finally telling the big studios in the only way they'll listen (their wallets) that fewer and better might be the way to go.
Australian summer is where our cinemas - businesses that need to make money and who keep plenty of folk employed - make a good percentage of their annual income.
And so when I looked at the list of summer releases for this year and saw the Aquaman sequel at the top of the list, I did that intake of breath between the teeth you make make when you're watching an accident about to happen.
But I stand corrected, because like the first Aquaman film, audiences seem to genuinely like Jason Mamoa's comic book hero.
The sequel has already hit $250 million in world box office takings.
And I can see why, because all of the elements that made the first film successful are back, including Mamoa and Our Nicole, and a tongue-in-cheek approach to its own silliness.
Again responsible for drawing these elements together is industrious and inventive Australian director James Wan, of Saw fame (and also, Canberra readers, one of our very own local sons, a graduate of Lake Tuggeranong College).
In the first Aquaman film, normal human bloke Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) fell in love with mermaid queen from the deep Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) but she was forced to return to the sea, leaving behind the bloke and their son.
That kid was Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) who would find out across that film that he was, in fact, some kind of under-sea royalty, involved in all kinds of territorial aquatic shenanigans.
As this sequel opens, Arthur is now Aquaman, the King of Atlantis.
He finds he must now save his brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson), the deposed former King of Atlantis, in order for them to both square off against Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Manteen II) who has a new weapon he wants to use to kill Curry and his entire bloodline.
The other baddie everyone must fight is, of course, climate change, and until Greta Thunberg grows gills it's up to Aquaman and pals.
Mamoa positively radiates charisma, in this and everything he does.
Patrick Wilson looks and is gorgeous in this film, and there's a fight scene where Orm and Aquaman square off against some tendrilled bad guys that equals the volleyball match in Top Gun: Maverick for beachfront homoeroticism.
Amber Heard's performance proves that the biosecurity hostage video she shot with Johnny Depp under threat of having her dogs killed by Barnaby Joyce was no fluke.
It's hard to tell, with so much CGI at play here, what if anything is real, although plenty of the film's budget went on location filming in Britain and Hawaii.
But visually, the film is a spectacular explosion of ideas that might feel like a lot to take in but faithfully reference the Aquaman comic books of the 1960s and '70s.
There's so much manoeuvring going on at the studio behind this film.
Director James Gunn was recently hired by DC to fix everything that is keeping fans away from their Superman, Batman et cetera movies and big name stars are being handed gold watches.
That'll give the fans plenty to speculate about, but it's entirely possible to watch this two hours of fairy floss untroubled by speculation about any of its stars coming back to these roles in the future.
They're all pretty well paid, and I'm sure they'll all be just fine.