AQUAMAN (12A) ★★★★★
OCEANS rise and standards fall in Aquaman, a bloated origin story for the eponymous DC Comics superhero which capsizes in a tsunami of splashy digital effects and melodramatic storytelling.
Maine lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) discovers Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), Queen of Atlantis, injured on the shore and nurses her back to health. They fall in love and she gives birth to a boy called Arthur, who can breathe in water and communicates with aquatic life. “He’s living proof our worlds can co-exist,” coos Atlanna. Alas, the queen is forced to abandon her child and Arthur grows up believing that she died to give him life.
Years later, Mera (Amber Heard), daughter of King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), visits Arthur (Jason Momoa, above) and implores him to challenge his power-hungry half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson), who has declared war on humanity.
If Arthur can locate the trident of Neptune and hone his fighting skills under the aegis of mentor Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe), he might avert disaster. However, Orm is flanked by a vast army led by grief-stricken pirate Black
Manta (Yahya Abdul-Manteen II).
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (PG) ★★★★★
DAZZLING computeranimated adventure that introduces a menagerie of gifted spider-folks, who tick myriad racial, socio-economic and anthropomorphic boxes. There is a halfblack, half-Hispanic teenage hero, a sassy Asian female heroine, a grizzled old school crusader torn from the pages of a noir thriller, two markedly different reflections of Peter Parker ... and a talking pig. Laughs come thick and fast courtesy of a self-referential script that gleefully pokes fun at itself. Brooklyn teenager Miles Morales, pictured (voiced by Shameik Moore), enrols in a boarding school at the behest of his parents. He takes a break from studies to spend time with his uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), who indulges Miles’s passion for street art by venturing into the sewers beneath New York City to paint a mural.
A radioactive spider bites Miles’s hand, imbuing the high school student with incredible powers. Miles discovers he has inherited the same abilities as Spider-Man (Chris Pine), who recently died at the hands of crime lord Wilson Fisk (Liev Schreiber). The kingpin is conducting experiments, which disrupt the space-time continuum. Consequently, a washed-up Peter B Parker (Jake Johnson), Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), brooding Spider-Noir (Nicolas Cage) and inventor schoolgirl Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) materialise in Miles’s bedroom. They join forces with the teen to defeat a rogue’s gallery of villains including Green Goblin (Jorma Taccone) and Doctor Octopus (Kathryn Hahn).