Set mostly after the events in 2017’s Justice League, Aquaman takes us back to the origin of reluctant amphibian hero Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), and then to the present for a grand new adventure. We are introduced to men who would be king (including an angry challenger to the throne) and a hidden realm far beyond our own evolution. To keep things interesting, there’s a high-tech pirate on our hero’s tail, and a fellow Atlantean (Amber Heard) at his side who sports a shock of crimson hair worthy of The Little Mermaid. (Actually, there are a lot of pretty awful wigs in this movie.) It’s a testament to Aquaman‘s brisk pacing and nigh-overwhelming spectacle that I didn’t realize how derivative the story is of so many a comic book opus before it—most obviously Black Panther—until the end credits.
ULTRA HD BLU-RAY
STUDIO: Warner, 2018
ASPECT RATIO: 2.40:1/1.78:1
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 143 mins.
DIRECTOR: James Wan
STARRING: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen
Warner’s Ultra HD disc is dazzling demo material from start to finish. The scenes of Atlantis are the product of pure, unbridled imagination, like a fantasy painting brought to life and teeming with nuances that demand to be viewed on the biggest available screen. (A 3D version is also available and it’s probably a jaw-dropper.) The aspect ratio shifts between 2.4:1 and an IMAX-friendly 16:9. Dolby Vision high dynamic range does wonders fleshing out tiny specks of light in the darkness of submerged cityscapes, as if we, too, have been given Arthur’s Aqua-vision. The transfer’s excellent use of wide color gamut also helps bring out fine points like the range of pink hues in Nicole Kidman’s complexion, and the romantic hues of a sunrise.
The disc’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack is likewise a winner. Wild, action-filled set-pieces are plentiful, with frequent off-screen cues, dynamic movement across the soundstage, and generous use of bass. The underwater sound design is like nothing I’ve ever heard: a trippy yet convincing blend of atmospheric gurgle and phase-y voices. Atmos overhead activity is bounteous as well, with the air-breathers’ world serving up serious weather and the occasional flock of seagulls.
Bonus content is located on the included regular Blu-ray disc and includes a multitude of featurettes, some offering genuine insight. A 4K Movies Anywhere digital copy with the same extras is also provided.