- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The more than $1 billion live-action blockbuster starring DC Comics’ King of the Seven Seas swims over to ultra-high definition home theater screens in Aquaman (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 143 minutes, 2.39:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $44.95).

Within an exhausting story, viewers learn about a boy born to the Queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) and a human lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison).

Imbued with superpowers and a big heart, Arthur Curry grows up with his dad to help surface dwellers and gets nicknamed Aquaman (Jason Momoa).

Conflict ensues when his Atlantean half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) works to unite the seven underwater kingdoms as the mighty Ocean Master by attempting to trigger a war between the land and sea dwellers.

Aquaman must find a magical trident to reclaim his birthright, return to Atlantis and stop his war-mongering sibling.

The hero gets help from the daughter of King Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), Mera (Amber Heard), Atlantean mentor Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe) and must also contend with a human super villain named Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) wearing weapons and armor fueled with Atlantean technology.

Director James Wan’s bloated epic bombards viewers with seemingly never-ending subplots overloaded with mythology, flashbacks and eye-popping, computer-generated effects.

That’s not necessarily bad for loyal fans as the film also manages to deliver a rich, popcorn-munching spectacle loaded with wondrous underwater worlds, gorgeous creatures and a conclusion that features a frenetic “Star Wars”-style space battle taking place under the sea.

And, much like Robert Downey Jr. was born to play Tony Stark aka Iron Man, Mr. Momoa exists as the living embodiment of Aquaman. His infectious smile, hearty laugh, tattooed burly physique and obvious love of life and a good fight shine during every moment on screen.

4K in action: Despite delivered as only an upscale version culled from the 2K master, this visually overwhelming film, loaded with effects crafted by the legendary Industrial Light & Magic, still manages to really impress — thanks to Mr. Wan’s decision to offer an IMAX-sized, full-screen presentation during much of the movie.

The result is literally plunging viewers into 3D-esque, color-saturated, crisp underwater universe that sparkle with neon fluorescence highlighting watery blues, coral reef pinks and purples, and seaweed greens.

Incredible detail also abounds, witnessed in such creatures and objects as seahorses, tylosaurs and great white sharks ridden by sea dwellers; massive statues of former rulers crumbling during an attack; Nerius’ flowing cape tinged with gold; and Mera’s ceremonial dress assembled with illuminated jellyfish loaded with reddish purples.

Highlights continue when inspecting Orm gutting the side of a submarine using a trident in fiery fashion; Mera and Aquaman battling Black Manta in Italy; or Orm confronting the gold armor-adorned, neon-green scaly ruler from the Kingdom of the Fisherman.

Essentially, “Aquaman” demands to be seen on the largest television possible to soak in an impeccably designed universe.

Best extras: Despite a dozen featurettes offering nearly 100 minutes about the production and packed with interviews with Mr. Wan, Mr. Momoa, Miss Heard and most key cast and crew members, viewers never really learn much about the comic book origins of Aquaman and the creators behind him.

That’s an obvious miscue and major disappointment considering this would have been the best opportunity to shed light on a superhero that has been in sequential art since 1941.

OK, getting over that major disappointment, I still found it interesting to learn about creating Aquaman’s gold and metallic-green costume; discovering the comic origins of Black Manta and his weaponry told by Mr. Abdul-Mateen (yeah, but no Aquaman bio, what the heck?); building the amazing underwater battles and landscapes origins of the seven kingdoms (relayed by Mr. Lundgren); and designing the weapons, creatures and ships of each kingdom.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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