Aquaman (4K Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 8-May-2019

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Drama Featurette-Making Of-Loads on Blu-ray only
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 116:27
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Wan
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jason Momoa
Amber Heard
Willem Defoe
Patrick Wilson
Dolph Lundgren
Nicole Kidman
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Rupert Gregson-Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Atmos 7.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Arabic
Bulgarian
Cantonese
Chinese
Czech
Danish
Portuguese
Finnish
French
Greek
Hindi
Hungarian
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Korean
Norwegian
Polish
Romanian
Russian
Slovenian
Spanish
Storyboards
Tamil
Telugu
Thai
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

The DC Universe has been struggling along in the shadow of the might of Marvel for some years now, not being able to hit the same heights critically, with fans or at the box office (despite still making loads of money). Aquaman is now the highest grossing film in the DC Comics brand globally, eclipsing The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises with its $1.1 billion+ box office take. Personally, I believe those are both better films than this, although it is clearly a better film than most of the recent DC ones like Batman Vs Superman, Justice League or Suicide Squad. This film succeeds more than mostly due to the humour and personality of its lead character and the actor portraying him, Jason Mamoa. Another important thing going in its favour is that it is visually stunning especially in Dolby Vision 4K.

The story here starts with the usual Superhero origin story, showing Aquaman's origin as the progeny of a man, Tom Curry (Temuera Morrison) and a Princess of the seas, Atlanna (Nicole Kidman). The movie quickly moves past this to focus on two intertwined subplots, his half-brother King Orm's (Patrick Wilson) desire to unite the seven kingdoms of Atlantis and declare war on the surface world; and a pirate, known as Black Manta (Yahya Abdul Mateen II), who wants to exact revenge on Aquaman for the death of his father. Aquaman is coerced into getting involved in the underwater politics by a princess of one of the kingdoms, Mera (Amber Heard) and his half-brother's vizier and his own former mentor, Vulko (Willem Defoe) as they are concerned that Orm will destroy the underwater world due to his drive towards war. Vulko sets him off in search of the legendary Trident of Atlan which he believes will allow Aquaman to defeat Orm. Can Aquaman find the trident, keep Black Manta from killing him, defeat Orm and take his place as the rightful King of Atlantis?

As I mentioned above this film is stunningly beautiful as a spectacle with the underwater sequences especially leaping from the screen in 4K and often in an expanded aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Like a number of films recently this one switches from 2.40:1 to 1.85:1 depending on the scene. The colours explode form the screen in these sequences and look very realistic (within the confines of a completely fantastic world obviously). On the other hand many of the above water sequences look somewhat fake, such as the sequences on the wharf in front of Tom's lighthouse. The colours here don't quite look right to my eyes. This is not a transfer issue but a source material one. Jason Momoa is great (as always in these sort of action roles) as the funny, relaxed and action ready Aquaman leading the cast here with aplomb. Amber Heard also works well as his sarcastic and generally unimpressed companion, Mera. A grizzled Dolph Lundgren also appears as Mera's father, King Nereus. James Wan took on the directorial role here mostly having been known for horror films previously such as Saw and the Conjuring films. He mostly does a fine job, certainly in terms of the visual spectacle, however, I feel that this movie's greatest weakness is its run time. At 143 minutes, it is probably 30 minutes too long and tries to tell too much story. It feels like the Black Manta part of the story could have been kept for the sequel. Even if that was retained there are certainly sequences and other subplots which could have been curtailed to assist with the overall film. This is a consistent problem with the DC films to my mind, lack of tough decision making on runtime. The Marvel films are quite often long but do not drag like this does at times. The production quality is generally very high having mostly been shot in Queensland studios or locations in NSW and Queensland. Costumes are excellent and the underwater effects for scenes shot dry and quite amazing at times.

Recommended and certainly the best of the recent DC Universe series of films.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The video is excellent despite being a 2K upscale to 4K. The big difference on the 4K disc is in the colours with the wider colour gamut and Dolby Vision rather that the resolution of 4K alone. The picture sparkles throughout especially in the underwater scenes with the many colours of the underwater world including Aquaman's armour, lights of the city, armoured underwater creatures and much more. The film was produced with a 2K digital intermediate (consistent with many CGI laden films) and this transfer is therefore an upscale from that source. It does not have the detail seen in discs like the recent Crimes of Grindelwald or the spectacular transfer on Mortal Engines (one of the best I have seen) both of which are native 4K. The only minor negative I noticed was that during the Sicily sequences, some scenes had significant motion blur during camera movements, possibly due to a lower bit rate at those points. Generally though this disc looks spectacular in 4K.

There are English for the hearing impaired subtitles available which are clear and easy to read. Other subtitles are available in a wide range of languages (see specification above for a full list).

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The audio is also excellent with the centerpiece being a Dolby Atmos track which becomes Dolby True HD 7.1 on non-Atmos systems.

The Atmos track is backed up by a DTS HD-MA 5.1 track, two different audio descriptive tracks (one American, one British) in Dolby Digital 5.1, lossless Italian tracks (same formats as the English ones) plus loads of other languages in Dolby Digital 5.1 (in addition to those listed above there are also Hungarian, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Spanish (both sorts), Tamil, Telugu, Thai and Turskish). The Atmos track is wonderful filling the sound field of your home theatre with sounds especially during the major action sequences. There is lots of subwoofer use throughout supporting the action and music and the surround speakers are in constant use. The music sounds excellent showing off the Rupert Gregson-Williams score and the other songs.

The Atmos and DTS HD-MA tracks are also on the Blu-ray version.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

A large collection of extras but a commentary or anything other than featurettes would have been nice. These are on the Blu-ray disc only. Mostly DD2.0 and HD.

Menu

The menu features music.

Becoming Aquaman (13:03)

This is a featurette focused on the character of Aquaman, casting Momoa, the significance of a Brown-skinned superhero, physical preparation, rigs, camera tests, shooting challenges, the premiere and Momoa's relationship with Temeura Morrison. Worthwhile.

Going Deep into the World of Aquaman (19:28)

The most comprehensive featurette on this set covers the jokey history of the character, wanting to go somewhere different with him, pre production, production design, costumes, the Queensland based shoot, creating the physical sets, shooting in water, shooting dry for underwater scenes, CGI, locations and much more. Well worth watching and probably the highlight of the extras.

James Wan - World Builder (7:42)

This featurette is focused on the Director's role in the production design including doing many of the pre visualisation drawings himself, his ideas for props and the flowing hair effects used during the film. Good stuff.

Dark Depths of Black Manta (6:39)

Hosted by the actor playing the character, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, this covers the history of the character, technology and the suits created.

Heroines of Atlantis (5:31)

Featurette on the female leads, Nicole Kidman and Amber Heard and their characters including costumes, story and character development.

Villanous Training (6:21)

Training regimes for the actors playing Orm and Black Manta including muscle building, fight training and the different styles of each character.

A Match made in Atlantis (3:12)

Amber and Jason interviewed about their on and off screen relationships.

Atlantis Warfare (4:40)

Featurette on the making of the epic final sequence including design and props.

Creating Undersea Creatures (7:15)

Featurette on the design and realisation of the creatures including the sharks and seahorses.

Aqua-tech (5:42)

A quick look at a lot of the technology used on the film including rigs, gimbles, previs, virtual reality, the wall of water effects and more.

Scene Study Breakdown (10:15)

Making of featurettes for three specific scenes including sets, stunts, filming etc.

Kingdoms of the Seven Seas (6:59)

Dolph Lundgren hosts a tour of the different sets used to represent each of the seven kingdoms.

Shazam Sneak Peak (3:27)

Extended trailer for Shazam.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This film is available in the US in the same format except for some minor differences in foreign language soundtracks. Buy Local.

Summary

The best of the DC Universe films to date but still too long for its own good.

The video quality is excellent despite being an upscale to 4K.

The audio quality is excellent.

The extras are plentiful but quite samey.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, June 03, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLEDC8PTA 55. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5012
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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