When the ruler of Atlantis seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms of the sea in order to start a war with the human world, it's up to half-human/half-Atlantean, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman, to confront his destiny, find a legendary trident, and prevent a catastrophic war. On 4K Digital, Aquaman looks and sounds excellent, featuring a colorful Dolby Vision HDR presentation that spends much of its time opened up to a taller IMAX-inspired aspect ratio, and a bass-heavy, immersive Dolby Atmos mix. Recommended for fans who no longer buy physical media. (Please note: this page's affiliate links are for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.)
While I'll leave our full Aquaman review in the capable hands of Moises Duarte when he reviews the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, here are my quick penny-thoughts:
It took me a while to get into the Aquaman spirit, for whatever reason. I guess I found the first 15-20 minutes to be a little clunky, and there's a lot of talking about sea kingdom rules and history, which tends to slow things down in ways that aren't always rooted in character. But, the more I dove into the movie's tone and visuals and characters, the more I connected with this goofy, dazzling blockbuster. Jason Momoa is clearly at home as a roguish movie star. The film's visual design is simply gorgeous. And there's a lot of good, functional action. It's not my favorite comic book movie, but I can see why many people became instant fans of this character and film.
Vital Stats: 4K Digital Copy
Aquaman dives into home video with a 4K Digital release that includes Dolby Vision/HDR10, Dolby Atmos, and 14 Bonus Features. We purchased our copy for $20 via iTunes; at current pricing, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, which should include this digital copy, will set you back an additional $10 when it releases on March 26.
Aquaman swims onto 4K Digital with a 2160p / HEVC-encoded Dolby Vision HDR presentation (HDR10 also available) that alternates framing between 2.39:1 and 1.78:1. According to the director's Twitter account, this IMAX-infused edition is his "definitive version."
Slick, detailed, contrasty, and colorful, Aquaman is among the best-looking DC Universe titles to date (there's no enhanced grit & grain). Daytime exteriors pop with bold primaries like blue skies and Amber Heard's crimson hair and emerald costuming. Night and underwater sequences are, generally, stripped of this overt edge-to-edge color, but the Avatar-esque fluorescents used for the underwater cities and weaponry are beautiful. Close-up shots reveal a massive amount of detail including hair (wet & dry), facial textures, and Jason Mamoa's 45-pack abs (ladies!). Contrast is excellent as well, with pitch-perfect black levels and oodles of shadow details visible the murky ocean depths. In term of the HDR grading, you can see a touch more detailing around explosions and Atlantean weapon fire. Lastly, I didn't encounter any aliasing, macroblocking, or banding during my stream.
Also, I know the alternating aspect ratios won't please our constant-height projection readers, but I love how the IMAX version has been implemented here. First, director James Wan is very subtle about switching and doesn't repeatedly cut back and forth. And, in my opinion, using the entire screen in the 4K HDR era produces a brighter overall image, which makes the whole experience more immersive and lifelike.
Aquaman blasts through the seven seas with an LFE-friendly and immersive (Dolby Digital Plus based) Dolby Atmos mix that's going to get a lot of fans excited.
Starting with the standard stuff, Aquaman boasts clear dialogue even during the action sequences, robust and dynamic sound effects, and a rousing score by Rupert Gregson-Williams (brother to Harry, one of my favorite composers). Surround aficionados will immediately smile at the almost constant use of side and rear surrounds to complement the front sound stage. Effect pan seamlessly back-and-forth and side-to-side. LFE addicts should also be happy, given the rumbling nature of tidal waves, explosions, and even smaller moments like Aquaman landing on a dock behind his father.
Overhead sound placement is also quite aggressive, but I did note a few moments where the filmmakers could have added a little more Atmos razzle-dazzle (like the rain in the very first scene and a few of the creatures or ships passing up and over the audience). Still, it's an ultra-minor nitpick of what is, otherwise, an authoritative experience. Enjoy!
Aquaman surfaces on digital with 14 bonus features (by my count -- this may vary by streaming service) that do a nice job of exploring the film's production. I only wish an audio commentary was included. Here's what was included with our purchase.
While Aquaman isn't among my personal favorite superhero movies, I can see why so many people connected with its charming star and grandiose visuals. On 4K Digital, Aquaman boasts a demonstration-worthy Dolby Vision presentation highlighted by sharp detailing, a rich color palette, and the added brightness of the scenes with the IMAX aspect ratio. The Dolby Atmos track falls just shy of best-of-the-best, in my humblest opinion, but is still sure to excite listeners who love immersion and LFE.
Recommended for fans who no longer buys discs.