Fresh on 4K: ‘AQUAMAN’ has our full permission to come aboard

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

AQUAMAN

Rated PG-13, 143 minutes.
Director: James Wan
Cast: Jason MomoaAmber HeardWillem DafoePatrick WilsonNicole KidmanDolph LundgrenYahya Abdul-Mateen II and Temuera Morrison

When we reviewed AQUAMAN in theaters in 2018, we gave it a favorable score while pointing out some of the film’s flaws that could not be ignored. However, with the film’s release on 4K UHD Blu-ray, fans of the fish-man can rest easy as this is one of the best 4K discs to be released in 2019 so far.

Movie Grade: B

From our theatrical review:

“Before Aquaman’s latest iteration, the half-human/half-Atlantean was considered a letdown in comparison to the other DC superheroes. He was predominantly known for being able to talk to fish telepathically. With DC wanting to move forward with JUSTICE LEAGUE, they needed to bring in Aquaman, but do so in a way that can subvert the previous stigma of that character.

AQUAMAN’s key to its success lies within the director, James Wan. He allows the camera to create a kinetic pace yet keeping focus for the audience. Wan incorporates a lot of dolly shots and crane shots to flow with the action instead of making rash cuts in the editing to make the fight seem consistent. Much like his work on THE CONJURING franchise, the camera is used to help focus and highlight what makes this shot or scene exist, whether it is a hero shot or the incandescence in the underwater kingdoms. The sequence as they descend to the Trench Kingdom allows Wan to dip into that horror background and makes for fantastic imagery that will be talked about when referencing this movie.

It’s safe to say that AQUAMAN will be a huge success and easily one of DC’s best efforts. It manages to give the audience a lot of entertainment, with eye-popping visuals and a story that reels you in because the movie doesn’t want to take you on a ride, but have the audience join them on the journey. Here’s hoping those working on the DCEU catalog will keep the momentum going.”

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Video/Audio Grade: A+

AQUAMAN arrives on 4K UHD employing an upscale treatment from a 2K Digital Intermediate. However, it’s safe to say this is by far the greatest 4K upscale I’ve seen since BLADE RUNNER. Skin textures and practical sets are crisp as ever, with Jason Momoa’s hair, in particular, featuring more evident detail over the 1080p version. Creature designs look sharp and wide shots of Atlantis are bursting with clarity. To top it all off, the added detail of Dolby Vision and HDR10 immerse the viewer even more. Blacks are rich and never crush into a dirty grey while the brighter colors featured in the surface world never feel overpowering in brightness. The fight with the creatures of the Trench near the third act, in particular, is glorious as a single red flare illuminates an endless horde of monsters in the dark depths of the ocean. It certainly helps that over half the film is presented in its theatrical IMAX 1.78:1 aspect ratio. These extended sequences alone justify upgrading to a 4K home theater setup.

The same goes for the film’s top-notch Dolby Atmos audio track. The film’s final battle in particular features an overwhelmingly rich audio mix with each creature having a distinct presence in both the front and rear speakers. Dialogue is clear, and the music track is mixed in such a way to never drown out the rest of the scene. Overall, this is as great a 4K experience as one could ever ask for.

Extras Grade: B+

There are no special features included on the 4K disc, but you will find everything on the packaged 1080p Blu-ray. While the number of selections is noticeably high, they are unfortunately brief in run time, at roughly one hour and forty minutes combined. They are undoubtedly decent but are unlikely to warrant repeat viewings.

Full List of Extras:

  • Going Deep Into the World of Aquaman (19 minutes, 1080p)
  • Becoming Aquaman (13 minutes, 1080p)
  • James Wan: World Builder (8 minutes, 1080p)
  • Aqua Tech (6 minutes, 1080p)
  • Atlantis Warfare (5 minutes, 1080p)
  • The Dark Depths of Black Manta (7 minutes, 1080p)
  • Heroines of Atlantis (6 minutes, 1080p)
  • Villainous Training (6 minutes, 1080p)
  • Kingdoms of the Seven Seas (7 minutes, 1080p)
  • Creating Undersea Creatures (7 minutes, 1080p)
  • A Match Made in Atlantis (3 minutes, 1080p)
  • Scene Study Breakdowns (11 minutes total, 1080p)
  • “Shazam!” Sneak Peek (3 minutes, 1080p)

Final Grade: A-

AQUAMAN is by no means a perfect film. In spite of being so much fun to watch, it’s way longer than it has any right to be, it’s absurdity can be a little heavy-handed, and some of the performances are dead in the water. But while the film itself may have some problems, the same cannot be said for this 4K presentation. Buy this disc today.

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