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Blu-ray Review: Aquaman

March 26, 2019

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), who first appeared as part of the DC Extended Universe in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before playing a much larger role as a member of the superhero ensemble in Justice League, gets his own origin story in director James Wan’s Aquaman.

As we are shown in the film’s prologue, Arthur is the mixed-race son of a human lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) and an Atlantean queen (Nicole Kidman), who fell in love when she washed ashore from the depths of the ocean, before she was forced to return to the lost kingdom of Atlantis and punished for having an illegitimate son.

When his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson), who now rules over Atlantis, decides to wage war against the surface world, Princess Mera (Amber Heard) enlists Arthur’s help to stop him. With the help of his old mentor Vulko (Willem Dafoe), Arthur and Mera set out to track down the ancient Trident of Atlan, which will allow him to take his rightful place on the throne, and prevent a war between his two worlds. Meanwhile, Orm hires the sea pirate Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who has his own reasons for wanting to get revenge, to try and stop Arthur from getting the trident.

There is an inherent campiness to Aquaman – both the original character, as well as the movie – and the film is cheesy at times. But Wan is able to embrace this in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way that I’m happy to say mostly works. The visual effects that splash across the screen are cutting edge, and the underwater scenes are impressive for the amount of computer power behind them. But at its heart, Aquaman also feels like a throwback to the old school fantasy and adventure films from the 1950s and ’60s, and it owes as much to the stories of Jules Verne as it does to other comic book movies.

While Aquaman doesn’t quite reach the heights of Wonder Woman, and the nearly two and a half hour running time can feel a bit bloated due to the sheer amount of stuff that it tries to pack in, this is still an entertaining blockbuster that easily ranks among the better entries in the DCEU. The film features some solid visual effects, as well as a lot of fun action sequences that are very well staged by Wan, and it glides by on the power of Momoa’s hugely charismatic portrayal of the titular hero.

The Blu-ray also includes a good selection of bonuses, starting with the eleven featurettes Becoming AquamanGoing Deep Into the World of AquamanJames Wan: World BuilderThe Dark Depths of Black Manta, Heroines of Atlantis, Villainous Training, A Match Made in Atlantis, Atlantis Warfare, Creating Undersea Creatures, Aqua-Tech, and Kingdoms of the Seven Seas. There are also scene study breakdowns for three of the film’s best action set-pieces – “Submarine Attack,” “Showdown in Sicily” and “The Trench.”

It’s about a hundred minutes of bonus material overall, providing an engaging deep dive into the film’s story, characters, production design, and visual effects. Finally, the disc also has an extended sneak peak at DC’s upcoming film Shazam!, which I coincidentally saw the other night and is an absolute blast.

Aquaman is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 143 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: March 26th, 2019

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