Skyfall (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 27-Mar-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Bond Audio Commentary-Director Sam Mendes
Audio Commentary-Producers and Production Designer
Featurette-Making Of-Shooting Bond (59:24)
Featurette-Skyfall Premier (4:28)
More…-Soundtrack Promotion Spot
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-x 3 other titles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 143:09
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sam Mendes
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Daniel Craig
Judi Dench
Javier Bardem
Ralph Fiennes
Naomie Harris
Bérénice Marlohe
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Thomas Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
Russian dts 5.1
Ukranian Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Danish
French
Finnish
Estonian
Italian
Norwegian
Russian
Swedish
Icelandic
Latvian
Ukranian
Lithuanian
Mandarin
English Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Russian Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, starts with Bond (Daniel Craig) in Istanbul. An assailant has killed a British agent and stolen a hard drive containing a list of names of NATO undercover agents within terrorist organisations. Bond gives chase by car and motor bike across the roofs of Istanbul and finally confronts the assailant on top of a moving train. There he is accidentally shot and supposedly killed by British agent Eve (Naomie Harris).

     Three months later, things have gone from bad to worse for MI6 and its head M (Judi Dench). M is being forced into retirement by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the Chairman of a security oversight committee set up by the PM, and an unknown person has hacked into the MI6 computer system, compromising M and setting off an explosion which kills six employees. The first five names of undercover agents have been released on the internet, leading to the killing of operatives, and five more are going to be released each week. James Bond, of course, is not dead and he returns, older, wearier and damaged, and his reactions are not as sharp as they used to be. Nonetheless M needs him, although Mallory is not so sure.

     The assailant who stole the list of agents is identified as a man called Patrice (Ola Rapace); MI6 have no idea who he is working for but have a tip off that he will be doing a hit in Shanghai in a couple of days. Bond goes to Shanghai, but is unable to prevent the hit and Patrice is killed in the struggle. However, Bond finds a clue which leads himself and Eve (who is now his back-up) to a casino in Macau and the delectable Severine (Berenice Lim Marlohe). From there the trail leads Bond to an abandoned city on a deserted island; the lair of the man behind the attacks upon MI6, former MI6 operative Silva (Javier Bardem). It seems, however, that MI6 is not, in fact, Silva’s target; the real target is M. Thus starts a hunt and chase through the London Underground and Westminster until the climax in Scotland at Bond’s ancestral home, Skyfall.

     Skyfall is the 23rd Bond film. The director this time is Sam Mendes, a British stage director who has provided in his films, such as the Academy Award winning American Beauty (1999), or Road to Perdition (2004) or Jarhead (2005), an interesting critique of American society. Few things can be further from America than the quintessential British James Bond, but Mendes returns home and has delivered an intelligent, exciting and poignant Bond film, perhaps one of the best for quite some time. The reasons for this are varied but include a great cast, fealty to the material, intelligent scripting, stunning cinematography and exciting action.

     This is the 3rd Bond for Daniel Craig, who is now very comfortable with the role. His Bond was intended to be a reboot of the franchise, returning to a more brutal, rugged and human Bond. In Skyfall Craig is superb; his Bond is damaged and vulnerable while retaining his masculinity and a way with a witty line. He is matched by the superb Judi Dench, who dominates the screen whenever she appears, but of course a good Bond film requires a good villain and Javier Bardem delivers. He does not appear until over 60 minutes into the film, but his Silva is a man in great pain and he has a plan, a mission and a creepiness that places him among the top rank of Bond’s enemies.

     Skyfall also pays homage to past Bonds by revisiting such things as the iconic Aston Martin DB5, including a good gag with the red ejector button, as well as a new Q, a young IT wizard who has no time for such gadgets as exploding pens! The action sequences in Skyfall are well staged, showing that one does not need queasy-cam to make them exciting, and the climax in Scotland is one of the better purely cinematic sequences for some time. Almost wordless, the sound design is incredible with a great score, a helicopter circling overhead, machine gun fire, bullet hits, ricochets and explosions all around the sound stage while the visuals provide stunning images of figures silhouetted by the red and yellow of the burning house. Words are superfluous! Unlike some Bonds, where some action sequences seem to operate on their own outside the plot, the action in Skyfall is all relevant to advancing the story and the 145 minutes just fly past.

     The scripting is also intelligent. A recurring theme is a meditation upon age, loss and mortality and the change from the old ways to the new. One strong film image is of Turner’s famous painting of that old warship, the Fighting Temeraire, being towed to its breaking up. Those who were once vital, may now be good for nothing but scrap! Much is also made of the new ways of doing espionage through computers, satellites and the like, yet with computers and MI6 security systems totally compromised, the climax of Skyfall not only takes Bond back to his roots, but to a world in the country without computers where old fashioned methods, and a resourceful man with a gun, a knife or some dynamite, can take on high tech opponents. Thomas Newman has scored Mendes’s previous films as well as garnering 9 Oscar nominations (although he is yet to win) and in Skyfall (for which he was nominated again) he provides a rousing score, neatly blending the well-known Bond themes with new material.

     Skyfall is intelligently scripted, well-acted, has a great villain, and is well directed by Sam Mendes. The film looks stunning, the action well-crafted, exciting and relevant to the plot, the sound design wonderful. Skyfall may well be the best Bond for some time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Skyfall is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original aspect ratio being 2.35:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The film was shot digitally using Arri Alexa cameras. The result is an incredibly sharp print that looks spectacular and contains some stunning images; the night Shanghai skyline all blue and black, the arrival at the Macau casino with vibrant yellows and reds, the climactic fight at Skyfall are only a few of the images that stand out as others are equally as good. Blacks are deep, shadow detail pristine. One result of the use of digital cameras is that interior scenes with lights frequently take on a quite yellowish tinge, which does make the skin tones an unnatural yellow in those sequences.

     The print is not perfect as there is occasional slight ghosting with movement against some mottled backgrounds; one place where the print struggled is at 9:26 where Bond running across the crane arm in front of the mottled green background was quite blurry. There were no marks or other artefacts.

     Subtitles are available in a wide range of European languages, plus English for the hearing impaired and Mandarin. There are also subtitles for the two audio commentaries in seven European languages and Mandarin.

     A Blu-ray print that is frequently absolutely stunning.

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

Audio

     The main audio track is English DTS-HD MA 5.1, although there dubs in another five European languages, plus English audio description.

     The sound design was superb. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand except for a couple of lines from Craig. The action sequences were loud and aggressive providing a wonderful aural experience; effects such as engines and bullets fly around the sound stage, and bullet hits, debris and explosions reverberate. In the opening chase, the cars crunch across the road, glass flies and people scream while, as noted, the climax is incredible with a helicopter circling overhead, machine gun fire, bullet hits, ricochets, explosions and music all around the sound stage. Even in the quieter moments there was something happening in the surrounds with ambient effects including crowds and music. The sub-woofer added satisfying depth to engines and the explosions and crashes without unbalancing the audio mix.

     The music by Thomas Newman neatly blended the well-known Bond themes with new material. He provides a rousing score that enhances the visuals and adds to the film experience. It is nicely presented in the sound mix.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The audio provided an outstanding surround experience. Turn up the volume and enjoy.

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

Extras

     An excellent set of extras, all relevant to the film. On start-up are trailers for 50 Years of Bond Box Set, A Good Day to Die Hard and Taken 2 that need to be skipped. They cannot be selected from the menu.

Audio Commentary: Director Sam Mendes

     Sam Mendes provides an articulate, intelligent and humorous commentary. He speaks about his intention that Skyfall feel traditional so he used locked off cameras rather than hand held, and did stunts and effects for real or using miniatures as much as possible. Mendes also comments on the locations, the themes of the film, the cast, his shooting techniques and much more. The commentary is non-stop and informative and is an excellent listen.

Audio Commentary: Producers Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner

     Not as good as the Mendes commentary, the three tend to chat about what is on screen, say “look at this”, have silences and don’t provide a lot of information. They also do not introduce themselves. That said, there are some interesting anecdotes, and this is not the worst commentary around.

Shooting Bond (59:24)

     A comprehensive and interesting making of detailing what director Sam Mendes had in mind and how it was brought to fruition. Includes interesting behind the scenes footage plus interviews with the director, all the main cast, the producers, writers, composer and quite a few more involved in the production. The individual sections as listed pretty much outline what is covered in the 60 minutes, and there is a play all option:

Skyfall Premiere (4:28)

     Cast and crew on the red carpet at the Royal premiere of the film at The Albert Hall, London.

Theatrical Trailer (2:31)

Soundtrack Promotion Spot (0:40)

     As it says.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Blu-ray releases of Skyfall in all regions have the same extras. Some audio and subtitle options vary, as do trailers for other films, and the US release contains an extra DVD / digital copy.

Summary

     Skyfall is intelligently scripted, well-acted by Daniel Craig and Judi Dench and has a great villain in Javier Bardem. It is well directed by Sam Mendes and looks stunning, the action well-crafted, exciting and relevant to the plot, the sound design wonderful. Skyfall may well be the best Bond for some time.

     Video and audio are excellent, the extras are very good, resulting in a superior Blu-ray package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, April 05, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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