Review: Aquaman (4K)

The ocean comes alive when Aquaman arrives on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD Special Edition and Digital. From Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DC and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Aquaman features Dolby Vision HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen, frame by frame. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Aquaman also features a Dolby Atmos soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead.

Plot: Once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth, the city of Atlantis is now an underwater kingdom ruled by the power-hungry King Orm. With a vast army at his disposal, Orm plans to conquer the remaining oceanic people — and then the surface world. Standing in his way is Aquaman, Orm’s half-human, half-Atlantean brother and true heir to the throne. With help from royal counselor Vulko, Aquaman must retrieve the legendary Trident of Atlan and embrace his destiny as protector of the deep.

Director:  James Wan

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 & 1.90 : 1

Runtime: 143 min

Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 65% & IMDB 7.3/10

Unboxing (See below)

Review:

This movie was shot with ARRIRAW camera’s in a 3.4K format and given a 2K Digital Intermediate. As per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in Dolby Vision. When it comes to the visuals, this is a demo-worthy showcase. This is literally the type of movie you buy a 4K television for! It holds a very clean image with little to no grain and everything comes to life with the use of HDR. That aspect (HDR) will be the topic of discussion — echoed so much, it will get repetitive.

Something you will notice immediately is that it doesn’t have a crystal clear image outside of the IMAX sequences. Don’t get me wrong, it has a great 4K image, but dropping back to standard ratio after long and immersive IMAX scenes draws back the detail to the eye — literally. The very first IMAX scene doesn’t happen until 25 minutes in and that’s when the clarity, detail, sharpness and color get dialed all the way up to the max. Essentially, once you go under the surface, everything turns on and the HDR shines. The glow and hue given off from various civilizations, jellyfish, lava, body amour, ships and vehicles… it’s amazing.

As with most discs on the UHD format, you will get great detail in all the character close-up’s. This means you will get deep pores, beard stubble, wrinkles, blemishes, etc. Since this movie takes place in and around the seas, everything always has the appearance of being wet — either slightly damp or absolutely soaked. Little details like scales on a body suit to shiny metal on the commanders uniforms are more noticeable compared the standard Blu-ray. This continues in the environment too — from moss growing on rocks and buildings in a broken down civilization, to wet droplets on wood and the grit from sand.

I jotted down more highlight notes in this movie than I ever have before — every IMAX moment had some type of highlight to mention. This includes the sweeping shots of the Kingdoms of Atlantis, Trench and Fishermen — not to mention shots in the Sahara Desert, Sicily and the Hidden Sea inside Earth’s core.

(I had to cut the notes down for the risk of describing the whole movie.)

The first over the top HDR showcase comes in Chapter 4 when the Atlanteans meet with Black Manta. The color is so overwhelming — it’s almost too much. The HDR color pops from the blue’s in the ocean to the glow of the lights coming from the ship. This scene continues as the tsunami hits land at night — black levels hold up while detail and color stay apparent from the reds in Mera’s hair to the green in her suit. This is an example of what the IMAX scenes will do in this film — simple and clean to chaotic and colorful — all in the right way.

Chapter 5 & 6 serves as the introduction to the Kingdom of Atlantis. This is where the demo worthy HDR comes into play with an array of blues, purples and greens. All the lights and glows appear like something out of an Avatar movie. (When is that coming to 4K?) Moving forward, the greens and golds in the suit highlighted in the Atlantis throwback are amazing — not to mention the great overlooking shots of the packed city. This serves as some of the best material.

While bright colors and HDR will take place time and time again, you will still get some great ‘above-water’ shots like in Chapter 6 when we get glimpses of Arthur’s training on the beach. Amazing highlights and lighting will come from the clear blue sky, while details like rippling ocean waves and sand will still be there too. Outside of daytime beauty, the blacks in the night scenes still hold up, as shown in Chapter 11 when Arthur and Mera come in contact with the trench monsters in the middle of the ocean during a storm. The hues from the red flare against the rain at night amongst the monsters and chaos looks great.

This continues in the Hidden Sea inside Earth’s core. Details come through spectacularly here with textures on suits, hair, rocks, sand, etc. To go along with that you will still have demo-worthy waterfalls, diamonds and all the surrounding nature. Another one to marvel at. Then… you know that slow-motion scene when Arthur comes out of the waterfall from all the promo material? You guessed it, another demo-worthy shot.

Finally, you will get the climatic battle scenes in Chapter 12 which features destruction and explosions by way of lava, electricity, beams, teeth — the works. As you can imagine, the HDR looks demo-worthy again with all these bright colors and large scale armies at war. The CGI constantly holds up even when there is so much commotion on the screen. Just after that, the very last fight scene looks like something out of a video game — the backdrop of giant propellers, pouring rain and roaring seas with the highlights of gold, green, purple and silver… you got to love it.

I can’t echo it enough, every IMAX scene has some version of DEMO MATERIAL that could get a sentence or two out of me.

In conclusion, this is going to be a movie in that MUST HAVE category of 4K UHD discs — that is, if you own a 4K capable television. Like I mentioned earlier, “This is literally the type of movie you buy a 4K television for!” You will hear people talk about a rotating ten films like Planet Earth II, The Revenant, Blade Runner: 2049, John Wick 2, Lucy, The Shallows, Pacific Rim, etc, etc. This movie easily fits it’s way into that list.

Warner Brother’s have been putting out some really impressive discs and with more movies like Shazam!, Wonder Woman 1984 & Godzilla: King of the Monsters up next — it’s going to be fun to see what they cook up on UHD. Back to Aquaman… this isn’t highly recommended disc — it’s a must own.

Own Aquaman on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Special Edition on March 26, or Own It Early on Digital right now!

Cheers,

Matt.