Spy (Blu-ray) (2015)
Featurette-Making Of-How Spy Was Made
|Year Of Production||2015|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Paul Feig|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
†††† Even though 2013ís The Heat was a word-of-mouth success that earned an inexplicable amount of praise, this reviewer found it tedious - an unfocused action-comedy in need of tighter editing, sharper scripting and a more competent craftsman at the helm. There was not much hope, then, for director Paul Feigís follow-up effort, 2015ís Spy. Miraculously, though, the resultant movie is a marked improvement over The Heat, even if it falls short of perfection. To be sure, Spy is definitely overlong and crass, not to mention it panders to a handful of ďgirl powerĒ tropes (itís more of a feminist action movie than the phenomenal Mad Max: Fury Road). Nevertheless, it is handsomely produced and benefits from the presence of an amicable cast, most notably the always-reliable Jason Statham, the charming Jude Law, and the underrated Peter Serafinowicz.
†††† Despite being a star pupil in training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is stuck in an office all day every day, yearning for the chance to become a field agent. Sheís a resourceful asset to the team, dedicated to helping the suave Bradley Fine (Law) in every aspect of his life, from helping him through dangerous situations to doing his laundry. During an operation to investigate Bulgarian arms dealer Raina Boyanov (Rose Byrne), it is revealed that the names and faces of all active field agents have been compromised, leaving the CIA unsure of how to proceed. Cooper, however, puts her hand up, volunteering to travel to Rome to provide surveillance on Boyanov. Itís not as easy as anticipated, though, especially with the overzealous Rick Ford (Statham) not taking kindly to being excluded from the assignment.
†††† As with The Heat, Spyís narrative is definitely too convoluted, as it meanders around searching for direction before settling on a climax. This episodic structure in itself is not a bad thing, as classic films like The Blues Brothers utilise it, but Feig is not quite talented enough to sustain the movie through to the finish line. It is funny, especially whenever Statham is around, but itís nothing overly memorable. As evidenced in Bridesmaids and The Heat, Feigís comedy is derived from the shock value of crass humour and vulgar language to compensate for the lack of actual wit. While an R-rated comedy is to be cherished in this day and age, Feig fails to fulfil the projectís potential. The director also has a tendency to hold onto punch-lines and scenes of improvisation for far too long, displaying too much trust in the ensemble. Consequently, pacing is often fairly sedate, and the issue is exacerbated by the undeniable fact that the movie is over-plotted.
†††† Itís palpable from the outset that Feig has placed his parody crosshairs on the James Bond franchise, even kicking off with a 007-style opening credits sequence, and establishing an unmistakable spy thriller vibe. Perhaps the king of action-comedy was 2007ís Hot Fuzz, a British romp which managed to be both a kick-ass actioner and a side-splitting comedy. Spy lacks the sparkle of wit that elevated Hot Fuzz, on top of coming up short in the action department. Astonishingly, Spy appears to be the first major motion picture to employ digital muzzle flashes as opposed to actual blank-firing weapons, a baffling choice thatís incredibly distracting, not to mention the CGI blood is some of the very worst ever seen in cinema (The Expendables included). A few brief shots of digital blood puffs would be acceptable, but Feig lingers, using slow motion for no good reason, allowing us to observe the computer-generated viscera in all its phoney non-glory. Admittedly, though, the movie is elevated to an extent by the fight choreography, with McCarthy given the chance to show off some impressive moves. Itís ridiculous of course, but all part of the joke.
†††† McCarthyís track record as a lead actress has been shonky, to say the least; sheís insufferable in The Heat, Identity Thief and Tammy. Although Spy makes use of McCarthyís typical persona, she doesnít get on the nerves as much here, and she does score a few laughs. But ultimately, Spy works as an ensemble piece, and it helps that McCarthy is surrounded by plenty of talented thespians. This is Stathamís first comedy since Guy Ritchieís Snatch. fifteen years ago, yet he displays top-notch comedic timing, not to mention heís completely willing to play an utter cartoon, merrily parodying his own action star image. Itís particularly amusing to see the tough guy trying to disguise himself in various get-ups. He thoroughly upstages McCarthy, and though itís a shame the movie didnít centre on him, itís the element of surprise that makes Stathamís appearances so hilarious. Also of note is British funny-man Serafinowicz, whoís over-the-top in all the right ways, scoring more laughs than McCarthy despite limited screen-time. Australian actress Byrne makes a positive impression as well, shining with her deadpan line delivery and amusing accent. Meanwhile, Law plays a Bond-style secret agent with ample finesse.
†††† Hidden somewhere within Spyís bloated two-hour runtime is an adequate ninety-minute action-comedy, and one cannot help but wonder what the film would have looked like if Feigís script was revised by a more refined comedy writer. And, ultimately, the outlook for Feigís impending all-female Ghostbusters reboot looks all the shakier, as the helmer exhibits none of the comic timing, wit or innovation of the 1984 original, not to mention it remains to be see if Feig can even handle a PG-13 comedy since his humour almost exclusively relies on profanity.
†††† Fox presents Spy in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, via an AVC-encoded 1080p high definition transfer thatís solid but falls short of reference quality. Feig and his cinematographer shot the movie digitally with Arri Alexa cameras, explaining in the audio commentary that this decision was made because digital can better handle low-light situations.
†††† Being a digital production, thereís no grain structure, and as a result a number of shots do look pretty smooth, lacking that pop of fine detail that you come to expect from the best Blu-ray discs. I saw Spy at the cinema, and feel that the Blu-ray falls a bit short. Added to this, there is some minor black crush, especially in a scene set in a dungeon. I also noticed one scene in a restaurant with very poor texture on Susanís black dress; it looks like sheís wearing a big black blob.
†††† Aside from these issues, the transfer is fine for the most part. Colour is great, with a palette that looks inviting, bright and natural. The image is also sharp, with well-delineated edges. I did not detect any banding, aliasing or any other encoding anomalies aside from the crush.
†††† Spy looks adequate on Blu-ray, but it could have looked better. An Ultra HD Blu-ray would be a good opportunity to rectify these flaws.
†††† There are only two subtitle options; English subtitles for the movie, and English subtitles for the commentary. Sampling both, I had no issues with them.
†††† Carrying a generous DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, Spy sounds perfectly adequate on Blu-ray, with a professionally-mixed track that carries a suitable amount of oomph. This is an action movie first and foremost, and all the gunshots and explosions do have punch, while the score by Theodore Shapiro sounds wonderful. Dialogue is easy to hear and well-mixed.
†††† No complaints from me.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† Fox have pulled out all the stops for this extras package!
†††† One of the best menus of recent memory. The main title song "Who Can You Trust" plays over the menu, with many minutes of clips and images from the movie.
†††† Three scenes that didnít wind up in the movie. Mildly interesting.
†††† Over half an hour of deleted material is included here. Fans will probably be in heaven, but most everyone else will find this to be a bit of a slog.
†††† An intermittently funny selection of outtakes. Worth watching.
†††† On-set goofing around recorded by the behind-the-scenes cameramen. Itís enjoyable, but I canít say I laughed much.
†††† Probably the best extra on this disc. What we have here is nine minutes of director Paul Feig feeding random lines to his actors, who constantly struggle to compose themselves. Very funny.
†††† A selection of clips involving McCarthy and all of her male co-stars. Itís mostly alternate takes, improv, and outtakes. Nothing much of interest to see here.
†††† Rose Byrne struggles to keep a straight face as her co-stars (most notably Melissa McCarthy) constantly improvise and crack her up. Amusing stuff.
†††† Improvisation featuring characters in Susanís office and the rats that take over.
†††† A handful of alternate takes of Antonís death scene. Not especially funny.
†††† More outtakes and improvisation.
†††† More improvisation, this time concerning Jason Stathamís character.
†††† Just in case you thought there couldnít possibly be anymore improvisation, hereís thirteen minutes of extended scenes with alternate dialogue. Itís getting exhausting now.
†††† The actors get handsy in a selection of outtakes here. Yes, more outtakes.
†††† Guess what? More outtakes. Hereís another two minutes of actors flubbing lines.
†††† Yep, more outtakes. The actors deal with the mice on-set, as well as bugs.
†††† An eight-part behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie. Finally, weíre out of blooper territory. That was an ordeal. Anyway, the featurettes are as follows:
†††† This first making-of featurette is solely concerned with Mr. Paul Feig. The cast and crew all wax lyrical about the director, who shows up to set everyday dressed immaculately in a tailored suit carrying a walking stick. Feig also chimes in with his philosophies about filmmaking and his directorial process. He loves to have tonnes of alternate material, which explains why the special features on this disc mostly consist of extended and alternate scenes.
†††† The cast all share their most outlandish ideas, and Feig responds.
†††† Statham gets his own featurette. On-set footage and outtakes are intermingled with interviews as everybody talks about how great the action star was in a comedy role.
†††† Spy is an action-heavy movie, so this longest featurette in the bunch is concerned with the action and stunts, covering the fight choreography, stunt driving, and more. Insightful and interesting.
†††† Behind-the-scenes in Klub Nomad, with 50 Centís cameo.
†††† A fun little featurette focusing on Susanís various disguises throughout the movie.
†††† The camaraderie between McCarthy and Feig is examined in this featurette. They clearly have a great rapport and love working together.
†††† Some of the actors in character grab random items from the office and talk about how they could be turned into weapons.
†††† An audio commentary featuring Feig, cinematographer Robert Yeoman, gaffer John Vecchio, producer Jessie Henderson, and fight coordinator Wally Garcia. The group do have some interesting things to say, especially in regards to cinematography, improvisation, and how they managed to secure Statham. This is a decent track, but itís not an essential listen.
†††† About 30 images are included here. Itís a mixture of stills and on-set photos.
††††A green-band trailer, which seems like a bit of a waste.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
†††† The Region A version includes the extended cut of the movie, which is absent from this disc. However, JB Hi-Fi stocks an exclusive edition with the extended cut, which pushes the rating from MA15+ to an R18+. One supposes that Fox just didn't want to widely release an R18+ disc, as it restricts sales. Well, thank goodness JB stepped up for anyone who wants the extended cut. Consumers have the freedom of choice on this one.
†††† I enjoyed Spy to an extent, mainly thanks to the eminently amusing Jason Statham, but it's fairly hit and miss on the whole. Fox's Blu-ray is acceptable, carrying a serviceable if slightly problematic video transfer, and a pretty good audio track. The extras are pretty substantial, more than anyone would have expected for a film like this. Fans should have a good time chewing through the disc. Nevertheless, rent before buying.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|