Not a good situation at all. Definitely the kind you’d want Aquaman to handle.
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.
And it all works. The self-awareness never becomes self-conscious or off-putting. Rather than give viewers emotional whiplash, Momoa leads them on to the next scene (or mode) in a way that makes it feel as if it’s all of a piece. (By the way, our hero has an infant son in this one—by his wife Mera, played by Amber Heard—and there are Pixar-style obvious but can’t-miss jokes about the kid keeping the parents up all night. Momoa’s movie star bona fides are confirmed by the belly laughs that he gets from the baby.)
The second-best reason to see the film is Momoa’s chemistry with his co-star Patrick Wilson, returning as Arthur’s half-brother Orm Marius, aka the Ocean Master, the deposed would-be king of Atlantis and Arthur’s chief rival in the first movie. Wilson seems to have been warped into contemporary Hollywood from a much-earlier decade. He has a Van Heflin quality in this one (Matt typed, for the benefit of any oldsters and Wikipedia consulters who might be reading). He is as dry in this role as a man playing an ocean-dwelling humanoid could be. He plays Orm not just as a guy who’s never in on the joke, whatever that may be, but doesn’t seem to know what jokes are. That makes him the perfect foil for Momoa’s Arthur Curry, who refers to Orm as “little brother” (despite lil bro’s repeated attempts to destroy him in the last film) and messes with his head as only a big brother can. Arthur is never more infuriating to Orm than when he’s barreling through life, crashing and smashing his way past obstacles, somehow coming out unscathed, and grinning at Orm as if he had a plan the whole time.