4K Ultra HD Edition
Review by Gordon Justesen
Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen
II, Nicole Kidman
Director: James Wan
Audio: Dolby Atmos-TrueHD, DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1, 1.78:1
Studio: Warner Bros,
Features: See Review
Length: 143 Minutes
Release Date: March 26, 2019
“Heads up, we got a bogey on our six.”
“What does that even mean?”
“Bad guys behind us!”
“Then just say that!”
After a hint in Batman v Superman and a impressive first showcase in Justice League, the underwater titan of the DC universe finally gets his first big, um, splash in the superhero movie universe. I was never the hugest fan of Aquaman as far as the comics go, mostly because I could never take the character seriously. So you can imagine how amazed I was by this immensely entertaining and impressively realized big-scale movie adaptation.
Brought to life courtesy of the vision of director James Wan and lead actor Jason Momoa in the title role, Aquaman is a genuinely fun and entertaining ride of a movie. I’m one of the people out there who is really starting to feel superhero movie fatigue, so for me to be thoroughly won over by a movie of this type really is saying a lot. But I see this movie as more of an impressive action and visual effects package than a traditional comic book movie, and those elements actually do a big role in giving the movie its overall power.
And the story is a pretty good one too. Arthur Curry (Momoa) is the product of romance that blossomed between a human lighthouse keeper Tom (Temuera Morrison) and Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), who is no less than the Queen of Atlantis, a magnificent underwater universe. He finds her washed ashore one day, fall in love, and eventually have a newborn son.
In order to keep Arthur safe from enemy forces from Atlantis, Atlanna disappears. Arthur grows into a man who wants to forget everything about his Atlantean heritage. But that’s a little difficult when those in Atlantis know good and well that he is the rightful heir to the kingdom of Atlantis. It is currently on the brink of falling apart at the hands of Arthur’s half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson), who sees himself as the chosen king.
I’m appreciate practical effects over CG any day of the week. However, certain movies manage to remind me how glorious CG can be in bringing entire universes to life, and Aquaman may be the grandest example to date. Atlantis is a setting that is beautifully realized and presented in a way that even rivals that of Wakanda in Black Panther. Now just think about that!
The work here done by Industrial Light and Magic is monumental, if anything. Even various details such as characters maneuver in the underwater setting, right down to hair movement, is done to marvelous effect. And the sound design is every bit as amazing, especially in how characters are able to speak while in the underwater environment.
But it doesn’t just stop with the technical marvels. Jason Momoa makes quite an impression in the title role, with a great deal of charm and humor to spare. He and co-star Amber Heard, as Princess Mera (very eye-catching, I might add), showcase fantastic chemistry. And the movie also gets great supporting work from the likes of Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lungdren and Nicole Kidman.
Aquaman proves that there is very much some life left in the DC movie universe. And judging by the huge box office success, there will be more Atlantean adventures along the way.
I’ve already mentioned how jaw-dropping the movie is to look at...in 4K, it’s an even richer and grander experience. I honestly think that this release from Warner might be the single best 4K Ultra HD presentation I’ve seen to date. The visual landscape gives the presentation a lot to work with, but I’ve never quite seen so many colors pop off the screen as they do here, especially during the Atlantis sequences. And a great deal of the movie was shot in the IMAX format, meaning brief changes in aspect ratio, allowing the overall picture to deliver even more impact. If there was ever a reason to seek out any means of 4K, this release is the biggest one yet!
Any effects driven movie is going to bring with it monumental sound presence, and that’s precisely what this Warner release provides. The Dolby Atmos HD mix brings the movie to equally massive life. It never lets up from the very beginning, but it’s in the Atlantis setting where the sound really comes to immersive life. You will practically feel engulfed in this underwater environment thanks to the amazing lossless sound quality!
We get an impressive array of featurettes, all of which located on the standard Blu-ray disc. Among them are “Going Deep Into the World of Aquaman”, “Becoming Aquaman”, ‘James Wan: World Builder”, “Aqua Tech”, “Atlantis Warfare”, “The Dark Depths of Black Manta”, “Heroines of Atlantis”, “Villainous Training”, “Kingdoms of the Seven Seas”, “Creating Undersea Creatures”, “A Match Made in Atlantis” and Scene Study Breakdowns. All of which adds up to well over an hour of behind the scenes material, and there’s also a three minute sneak peek at the upcoming DC movie Shazam!
Even if you’ve grown tired of superhero movies, you will still find a lot to appreciate in Aquaman. From a visual standpoint, this is DC’s biggest achievement to date! And Jason Momoa is nothing short of incredible in the title role. And as far as 4K releases go, Warner has made a release for the history books! Maybe in future Aquaman movies we’ll see more boats in the film. It would be interesting to film right from some of the yachts for sale in San Diego. Perhaps Jason Momoa will even bring his own boat to the shoot!