Spectre (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 9-Mar-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Spectre: Bondís Biggest Opening Sequence
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Video Blogs
Gallery
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 148:06
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sam Mendes
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Daniel Craig
Lťa Seydoux
Christoph Waltz
Ralph Fiennes
Ben Whishaw
Dave Bautista
Naomie Harris
Monica Bellucci
Andrew Scott
Rory Kinnear
Jesper Christensen
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $24.95 Music Thomas Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None 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
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
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††† After the disappointment of Die Another Day in 2002, the producers of the long-running James Bond franchise realised that they could not keep sticking to the pre-established formula, instead opting to hit the reset button for 2006ís Casino Royale. However, they stopped short of actually finding something distinctively new for the series to become in order for it to be as unique and exciting as it was back when it started. Instead, the franchise is now more concerned with aping whatever is popular and successful at any given time. Royale is a visible clone of Christopher Nolanís Batman Begins, Quantum of Solace was a Jason Bourne movie, Skyfall went back to the Nolan approach, and now Spectre is a Marvel movie. More specifically, Spectre is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, though the narrative also bears astonishing similarities to the far superior Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. Once again helmed by Sam Mendes (Skyfall), Spectre may not be an unredeemable disaster, but it does fall towards the lower end of the Bond spectrum, a dull as hell action flick suffering from some of the worst plotting in 007 history.

††† It is a tense time for MI6, with the proposed merger with MI5 threatening to eliminate the ď00Ē program in favour of employing high-tech surveillance techniques. MI6 is therefore under some intense scrutiny, putting M (Ralph Fiennes) on edge, whoís keen to keep James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a tight leash after a destructive stunt in Mexico City. Setting off on a personal mission without permission, Bond seeks out old foe Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who has information about a shady organisation known as Spectre, led by a certain Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Travelling to Austria, Bond meets with Madeleine Swan (Lťa Seydoux), Mr. Whiteís daughter, who has ties to Spectreís history. Back in London, M, Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are left to deal with all the bureaucratic business, with M wanting to bring Bond back in, but evidence comes to light that 007 may be onto something.

††† Itís difficult to cover the gaping flaws of Spectreís moronic plotting without divulging spoilers, even though most/all of the surprises were either given away or strongly hinted at in the trailers in the first place, and the ďtwistsĒ arenít nearly as exciting as the movie wants them to be. Nevertheless, a spoiler warning is in place.

††† Even though Spectre does incorporate elements of the long-running James Bond formula - with some gadgets, the gun barrel opening, an old-school henchman (Dave Bautista), and a beautiful love interest for Bond - the movie is still reluctant to return to the franchiseís status quo, with Spectre another needlessly personal mission for 007. This series doesnít need such convoluted rubbish to justify action sequences, since killing people and wreaking havoc is literally Bondís 9-5 workday! He gets paid to travel to exotic locations and kill a bunch of bad guys, therefore the story does not need to be a personal vendetta, and if they had to do this sort of thing, can they at least put in just a tiny bit of effort? Worse, Spectre is not a standalone adventure. Whereas you could practically watch any other James Bond film out of order, this twenty-fourth instalment requires intimate knowledge of the last three movies, making it a 007 film only for franchise aficionados. You would think the producers would have recognised the foolishness of this approach after Quantum of Solace.

††† Following on from Skyfall and digging further into Bondís past, Spectre reveals that Oberhauser is the secret agentís brother, but this daft development only triggers Austin Powers flashbacks. (Except all three Austin Powers movies are much, much better than this garbage.) Worse, Oberhauser murders his father, becomes a global super-villain, and decides to set his crosshairs on Bond simply because his father loved James more than him. Oh boo hoo. Also, yes, Spectre pulls a Star Trek: Into Darkness on us; Oberhauser is the iconic franchise villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, having changed his name after staging his death. But it makes precisely zero sense for Oberhauser to choose to be called Blofeld, because the moniker has absolutely no bearing on the context of this particular story - Oberhauser just picked it out of a clear blue sky.

††† Marvel-esque world building has become the order of the day in recent years, and itís clear that MGM have taken note. Thus, Spectre wants its largely humdrum events to have the same kind of plot-threads-coalescing weight of the Avengers films, but they try to achieve it after-the-fact, without having actually done any of the prep work. In the most contrived way possible, Spectre ties together the events and villains of the last three instalments by revealing that Blofeld was responsible for everything, lurking behind the curtain and pulling the strings in secret. Problem is, this doesnít actually make any logical sense in the context of the previous movies. It doesnít even make sense in this context, given what his supposed endgame is.

††† Despite a gargantuan $245 million production budget, Spectre is not a particularly exciting or involving motion picture. The opening sequence in Mexico City is admittedly well-staged, but the succeeding action beats are strangely sedate, failing to raise the pulse. A car chase between Bond and Hinx has to be one of the most bland and uneventful vehicular pursuits in cinematic history, while a chase involving a plane and some cars is a total snoozer, which is a real surprise given director Mendesí past experience. Naturally, the film does look good, especially with the lush, stylish cinematography courtesy of Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar), and the sumptuous accompanying score by Thomas Newman, but such surface pleasures ultimately add up to very little. Despite being a watchable motion picture, thereís no danger, dread or intensity, with vanilla, determinedly bloodless violence, and romantic/sex scenes that feel bland and perfunctory.

††† This is Craigís fourth go-round as James Bond, but heís clearly phoning this one in. Craig spent the press tour for Spectre whining non-stop about how much he dislikes playing Bond, despite the gargantuan paydays he keeps scoring. (When was the last time Craig headlined a film outside of Bond that was actually successful?) Waltz is a formidable villain, but his screen-time is seriously limited, while the well-publicised appearance of Monica Bellucci amounts to precisely nothing. Seriously, Bellucci is in the movie for less than five minutes, and could have easily been cut from the finished film. The only one who seems to care here is Bautista as a silent, deadly assassin. Also worthwhile is Sherlock actor Andrew Scott, who makes a positive impressive as a rising British Secret Service leader. Meanwhile, the usual players do their jobs well enough, with Fiennes, Whishaw and Harris all perfectly acceptable as Bondís colleagues.

††† Spectre is plagued with serious issues, from its terrible, studiously forgettable main title song by Sam Smith that somehow won an Oscar (set to a laughably naff title sequence) to its underwhelming action scenes. There arenít even any memorable one-liners. It has been nine years since Casino Royale, and the 007 series is already in need of another major rethink.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Whereas Roger Deakins lensed Skyfall using digital cameras, Spectre was shot on 35mm film stock by cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, and it translates to an impressive Blu-ray. Fox presents this latest Bond adventure in 1080p high definition via its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, utilising the MPEG-4 AVC video codec. Itís a terrific presentation on the whole, though it does look slightly soft, which traces back to the source and isnít a fault of the encode.

††† Spectre is deliberately dark from a visual standpoint and sports a muted colour palette, and the Blu-ray stays faithful to the artistic choices made by Mendes and Hoytema. Even in the filmís darkest sequences, clarity and object delineation remain superb, with no trace of unsightly crush spoiling the lush photography. Detail often impresses, with well-defined close-ups bringing out textures on faces and clothing. However, the image isnít as sharp or as refined as other new release titles, which is slightly puzzling. Itís not a deal-breaker, but the bitrate is a surprisingly meagre, and the movie definitely looked more richly-detailed in the cinema.

††† Film grain is kept in-tact here; no noise reduction was applied in the creation of the transfer, allowing for a natural, textured image. Luckily, no digital anomalies crop up, with nothing in the way of aliasing or ringing. Spectre does not look as spectacular as its predecessor, and it definitely falls short of being demo material, but it is a perfectly serviceable transfer that should please fans. Still, the inevitable Ultra HD Blu-ray release will no doubt improve the picture, especially since Spectre was reportedly finished at 4K, to facilitate an IMAX release.

††† Multiple subtitle options are available. I had no issues reading the English subtitles.


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

Audio

††† The primary audio option on this disc is a spectacular English DTS-HD MA 7.1 track, which is a superb replication of the cinematic experience. Although some viewers may be disappointed by the lack of a Dolby Atmos track, itís hard to complain about this immersive lossless audio mix. Fox also provide lossy audio options in a few other languages, for those interested.

††† Spectre is an action film first and foremost, so there are plenty of opportunities for the track to show off. The big action set-pieces effectively employ the subwoofer, creating some serious rumbling to ensure that everything makes an impact. From the Day of the Dead commotion and helicopter blades of the opening sequence, to the car engines during the chases, the track never falters, offering pristine clarity. Even in quieter scenes, atmospherics fill the rear channels to create an immersive sense of place. Thomas Newmanís score also comes through beautifully.

††† Despite the tremendous noise of the action sequences, hearing the dialogue is never an issue, thankfully. This is a professionally-mixed track, and the chatter is always well-prioritised, mostly coming through the front channels. The track also boast nice separation, with pans as cars move across the screen, and precisely-placed gunshots. Although the gunshots do seem a bit muted in the grand scheme of things, this appears to be by design, as I recall thinking the same thing in the cinema.

††† No surprises here: Spectre will give your home theatre system a tremendous workout, and itís a nice way to show off the capabilities of your speakers.

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

Extras

††† Typical. Fox's Blu-ray contains very little in the way of bonus features.

Spectre: Bondís Biggest Opening Sequence (HD; 20:12)

††† The most substantial special feature on the disc, this is a brisk but insightful overview of what it took to execute the impressive action set-piece at the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City. This featurette does carry a promotional tone, and does seem like a television special, but itís still fascinating, with plenty of on-set footage interspersed with cast & crew interviews. It covers the prep work for every aspect of the opening sequence (including the helicopter fight), as well as the costuming and make-up, shooting on location, and filming certain moments at Pinewood Studios back in London. Worth watching.

Video Blogs (HD; 9:09)

††† Rather than a more substantial documentary like the one offered on the Skyfall Blu-ray, this is a selection of very short YouTube-grade puff pieces which take a very superficial glance at a few select aspects of the movie. On the whole, though, theyíre way too brief and not overly insightful. These can be viewed individually, or via a ďPlay AllĒ function.

Gallery (HD)

††† A tiny selection of screenshots and behind-the-scenes snaps. Not very exciting.

Theatrical Trailers (HD; 5:18)

††† Three trailers from the movieís marketing campaign. These can be viewed individually, or via a ďPlay AllĒ function. A nice inclusion.

R4 vs R1

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

† † In America, a Target exclusive Blu-ray release with additional bonus materials is available. From what I've been able to gather from forums, this is what the Target exclusive bonus disc contains:

††† This makes Region A the clear winner, though it's borderline impossible to import Target exlusives from America without paying a whole lot of money. So, I leave it up to the consumer to do what they wish.

Summary

††† Unfortunately, there's very little to recommend about James Bond's latest outing. It's a thoroughly moronic attempt to ape Marvel's winning interconnected universe form of storytelling, and it fails as a standalone action blockbuster because it so thoroughly refused to come alive. Skip this one.

††† Fox's Blu-ray features respectable video and spectacular audio, while extras are in short supply. Perhaps I should be grateful that I didn't have to sit through a commentary, but I would have loved to hear Mendes defend some of his creative decisions. Skip!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
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

Other Reviews NONE
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