Kingsman: The Secret Service (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 1-Jul-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Panel to Screen
Featurette-Heroes and Rogues
Featurette-Style All His Own
Featurette-Tools of the Trade
Featurette-Breathtakingly Brutal
Featurette-Culture Clash
Gallery-x3
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 128:44
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Matthew Vaughn
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Colin Firth
Taron Egerton
Mark Strong
Samuel L. Jackson
Michael Caine
Sophie Cookson
Mark Hamill
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Henry Jackson
Matthew Margetson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian dts 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Russian
Chinese
Estonian
Indonesian
Korean
Latvian
Lithuanian
Malay
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

     2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service represents a reunion for filmmaker Matthew Vaughn and graphic novel writer Mark Millar, whose previous collaboration resulted in the instant classic that was Kick-Ass. Much like that 2010 cult gem, Kingsman is a deliriously over-the-top action-comedy about a wayward young man who finds his direction in life by assimilating a real-life version of mythic heroism from popular culture. But whereas Kick-Ass set its knowing, satirical sights on American superhero movies, Kingsman is a defiantly British pastiche of old-school, gentleman spy movies like the long-running James Bond franchise. It fundamentally plays out like a crude, ultraviolent 007 adventure with a tinge of Men in Black in its narrative DNA, and, thanks to the deft directorial hand of Vaughn, the resulting flick is an absolute blast.

    An intelligent but misguided young adult, Londoner Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) lost his dad under mysterious circumstances, which has haunted him for years. After being arrested, Eggsy is approached by the enigmatic Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who seeks to recruit Eggsy to become a Kingsman agent. The Kingsman is a highly classified secret service organisation invisible to the public eye, and, as it turns out, Eggsy’s father died as a recruit on Harry’s watch. Given the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps, Eggsy is put through the training process, where he’s given a punishing introduction to the service by Merlin (Mark Strong). But Eggsy and Harry soon face a formidable adversary in the form of lisping billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), who looks to implement a secret weapon that could kill billions of people.

    Whereas most brainless action blockbusters fail to pay much mind to storytelling, Kingsman is surprisingly sedate for its first two thirds, with the occasional violent scene but mostly focusing on Eggsy’s training and Harry’s investigation of Valentine’s shady business. It’s rare for a spy movie to actually focus on the schooling aspect, which allows Kingsman to stand out as unique. Written by Vaughn and frequent collaborator Jane Goldman, the picture is essentially an origins tale, but Vaughn does wise by splitting focus between Eggsy and Harry, in turn maintaining sufficient momentum and shaking up the archetypal formula. Vaughn capably brings us up to speed on the Kingsman and how they operate, on top of securing relationships and establishing the central villainous plot. As Vaughn has himself stated, all the best villains in spy movies are grounded in a sense of reality, and Richmond Valentine ticks this box, with the character being based off the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. It is scarily plausible for a big tech company to act like a classic James Bond villain. Better, Valentine’s theory behind his sinister machinations actually does make sense, and he’s not in it for money.

    All the build-up leads into an action-heavy final third that’s well worth the wait. Vaughn further confirms his talents when it comes to staging frenetic action sequences, whipping up a frenzy of insane, off-the-hook and exceedingly violent confrontations peppered with wonderfully creative touches. Kick-Ass had the young Chloe Moretz killing a room of goons to the theme tune from The Banana Splits, and here we have heads exploding like colourful fireworks, and images of the general public slaughtering each other to the gleeful tune of “Give It Up.” But the picture’s centrepiece is the irresistibly un-PC church scene in which Valentine tests his mind control ray, compelling Harry to slaughter a good fifty Westborough Baptist Church-style caricatures in an awesome display of cartoonish ultraviolence. The sequence is an utter contrivance, nothing but an excuse for Harry to show off his incredible skills in battle without him being held in any way accountable for his actions. And yet, it’s so competently staged and deliriously enjoyable that it undeniably works. 007 adventures are mostly suitable for kids, but Kingsman is an R-rated actioner, with Vaughn permitting blood spurts and some insane moments of violence. The camerawork is a bit on the frenetic side, though, and the movie might have been superior with smoother cinematography.

    Just as Kick-Ass took the p*** out of superhero iconography, Kingsman is a post-modernist love letter to spy movies, merrily finding its own weirdly quirky and at times pitch-black voice. Valentine, for instance, may be a stereotypical bad guy, but speaks with a lisp and has an aversion to blood - he projectile vomits if he sees so much as one drop of blood. The finale, meanwhile, contains a rather left-field anal sex joke that had this reviewer in stitches (but others might find a bit beyond the pale).

    Kingsman is undeniably bolstered by smart casting, with Firth in particular doing a superb job as Harry Hart. Firth is the furthest thing from an action hero type, yet he nails the role - his posh sensibility serves him well as a gentleman spy, and his physical prowess is surprisingly outstanding. It’s obvious that the veteran actor did a lot of training to prepare for the movie, and it pays off. Equally excellent is newcomer Taron Egerton, who’s a real catch as Eggsy. His transformation from punk hooligan to sophisticated spy is surprisingly nuanced, and he’s easy to get behind. As the token villain of the enterprise, Samuel L. Jackson is completely cartoonish in all the right ways, clearly enjoying himself in the role which goes against his Marvel hero persona. Other veteran actors pop in as well, with Strong placing forth fine work while the reliable Michael Caine is spot-on as the head of Kingsman. Also keep an eye out for Mark Hamill, who’s fun to watch in an extended cameo.

    Vaughn has carved out a career in comic book movies, and Kingsman is another solid addition to his filmography, an energetic action-comedy lark which provides big laughs and a number of adrenaline-pumping action scenes. The characters here actually discuss contemporary spy films, bemoaning that they have become too serious, but Kingsman is flat-out fun. Admittedly, pacing is not always spot-on, but the movie undeniably improves upon repeat viewings. For viewers who have grown tired of the sanitised PG-13 action movie scene, Kingsman is a wonderful reprieve, and its almost defiantly politically incorrect stance makes it a real winner.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Shot with a variety of digital cameras, Fox’s AVC-encoded 1080p Blu-ray presentation of Kingsman is for the most part excellent. I viewed the movie theatrically more than once, and was very pleased with this disc.

    Images are sharp and crisp, and colour is very nicely balanced. There is a fine layer of grain-like noise, but this was also present in the cinema; thankfully, it’s well-delineated and doesn’t look ugly or blocky. Hairs are well-defined, and textures are crisp and detailed on clothing.

    Some shots do look a tad blurry and/or pasty, but I believe this is attributable to the original photography. Kingsman is a treat on Blu-ray, with no encoding errors or major issues to report.

    A number of subtitle options are available. I sampled a few whilst researching the specs for this release, and they’re smartly-formatted.

Video Ratings Summary
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Shadow Detail
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Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Kingsman is given a generous, bombastic 7.1 DTS-HD MA track which ably replicates the cinematic experience at home. The only real issue of the mix is that dialogue is a bit too soft compared to the music and sound effects, which is a bit of an annoyance. Nevertheless, it is an impressive track which makes great use of the surround channels. Gunshots and explosions are deafening, and the music heightens the excitement of the entire enterprise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
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Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   A reasonable selection of extras are included, headlined by a wonderful documentary.

Menu

    A very nice interactive menu, with images and music.

Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed

    There are six featurettes here totalling 90 minutes of content. Each featurette can be played separately, or via a “Play All” function. Subtitles are available for a variety of languages.

Panel to Screen: The Education of a 21st Century Super-Spy (10:19)

    A superbly brisk overview of the genesis of both Millar’s comic book and the movie itself. Changes from comic-to-film are covered, and Vaughn and Millar discuss the thought process behind the characters, the Kingsman organisation, Valentine’s evil plot, etc. Really fascinating stuff, and it’s peppered with some insightful behind-the-scenes footage.

Heroes and Rogues (23:09)

    Another genuinely interesting, in-depth behind-the-scenes featurette focusing on the cast and characters. Of particular interest is a segment dedicated to Mark Hamill, with everybody waxing lyrical about Luke Skywalker being involved in the movie. There’s a lot of substance here - this is not some fluffy EPK.

Style All His Own (10:49)

    This third featurette shines the light on director Matthew Vaughn. The cast and crew discuss Vaughn’s vision and on-set demeanour, and we also get a look at Vaughn’s involvement stretching into post-production. Very interesting stuff.

Tools of the Trade (15:21)

    Well I’ll be damned, another genuinely insightful, fascinating behind-the-scenes featurette. As implied by the name, this segment delves into the Kingsman gadgets, on top of looking into set dressing, the prop department, the costuming, and most interestingly, the armoury. The attention to detail on all fronts is spectacular. Great stuff!

Breathtakingly Brutal (17:27)

    Almost twenty minutes in length, this particular featurette examines the creation of several of the fight and stunt sequences in the movie, examining the action choreography and the logistics of shooting a certain underwater sequence. It could probably have been longer, but it’s fascinating nevertheless.

Culture Clash: The Comic Book Origins of the Secret Service (15:09)

    Bringing the documentary to a close is a featurette about the creation of the Kingsman comic. Not as interesting as the movie-centric segments, but a fine addition to the disc nevertheless.

Galleries

    A selection of still galleries. You can either auto or manual advance. The sections are Behind the Scenes, Sets, and Props. Nothing too spectacular, but nevertheless cool.

Theatrical Trailer (2:22)

    Topping off the package is the theatrical trailer.

R4 vs R1

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

     I own the American edition of the movie, and can confirm that the Australian Blu-ray is identical. Buy local.

Summary

    Kingsman was a box office dark horse, taking in a very impressive $400 million from an $80 million budget. Hopefully a franchise will be spawned. We need more movies like this.

   Video and audio are great for the most part. The extras are excellent, with a hugely satisfying behind-the-scenes documentary and a few odds and ends. Perhaps a selection of deleted scenes and a commentary would have topped things off, but I can't complain too much.

    Highly recommended. Buy with confidence.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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