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HTF DVD REVIEW: Quantum of Solace



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#1 of 37 Cameron Yee

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Posted March 21 2009 - 07:20 PM

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Two-Disc Special Edition

Release Date: March 24, 2009
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc VIVA Eco-Box with cardstock slipcover
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1h46m
MSRP: $34.98

MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
Video2.40:1 anamorphic1.78:1 anamorphic
AudioDTS: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Spanish 5.1, French 5.1Stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1
SubtitlesEnglish, SpanishClosed Captioned


The Feature: 3/5
Despite its enigmatic title, the second film starring Daniel Craig as James Bond is as simple as they come. Picking up mere minutes after "Casino Royale's" final scene, "Quantum of Solace" makes a beeline to payback. Bond wants it bad for whoever killed Vesper Lind (Eva Green, in the previous film) and the new Bond Girl, Camille (Olga Kurylenko), hardly has an identity without it, the need to avenge her family so strong that romance with a handsome English spy isn't even a consideration. With the pair's cloud of brooding angst hanging over their adventures (as raucous and well executed as they are), it's hard to really enjoy "Quantum of Solace"; the gloom ultimately undermines both the spirit of Bond (even in this tougher, grittier version) and the finer details of the plot (involving the water rights machinations of "philanthropist" Dominic Greene, played by Mathieu Amalric). Though "Casino Royale" definitely went to dark territory at times, it came up for air once in awhile. By contrast "Quantum of Solace" resolves to drown in its sorrows, so by the end the title's "little bit of peace" becomes more a plea from the audience than a cryptic reference to the characters' emotional needs.


Video Quality: 5/5
It's rare that I can review a film's DVD and Blu-Ray releases back-to-back. Viewing the movie on Blu-Ray first, one would expect the DVD to suffer from comparison. True, there's not as much detail and definition - particularly in the wide shots - and overall sharpness and color depth aren't as great. But, all things considered, the film looks fantastic on DVD and represents a high caliber transfer for the format.

Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and enhanced for widescreen displays, blacks are deep and inky and contrast, stylistically enhanced in some scenes, is excellent. Fine object detail is very good, desert sands looking quite good with no signs of compression problems, and sharpness is both fine and consistent. Colors show good depth and saturation, though the film gets almost monochromatic in its color palette as it progresses. Fleshtones vary a little depending on the locations (e.g. warmer in the southern climates and cooler in the northern) but look appropriate and realistic. Overall the DVD transfer is excellent, with no signs of undue digital manipulation like edge enhancement or noise reduction.


Audio Quality: 4.5/5
As with the video transfer, the 755 kbps 5.1 DTS audio track lacks some qualities compared to a high resolution option - subtlety and expansiveness being the most obvious. I can't justify giving the track full marks though, as it just seemed a little too blunt at times, though I will freely admit that I'm probably letting the lossless experience cloud my judgment. Still, I expect with nothing to compare it to, DVD owners will be well pleased. Sonic detail and definition are very good with breaking glass, growling airplane engines and the upper registers of the orchestral score. LFE is deep, clean and powerful, giving the subwoofer its strongest workout in the explosive finale. Surround activity is equally satisfying, ranging from dynamic, localized effects and pans in action scenes to more subtle ambient textures for various interior environments. Though I had to turn on the subtitles to cut through some of the heavy accents, dialogue is consistently clear and well balanced with the rest of the sound elements.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 track is also available. After a rudimentary comparison (I was not able to switch tracks on-the-fly) I favored the DTS option, which seemed to offer a wider soundstage and a "brightness" I tend to prefer.


Special Features: 3/5
Culling material that was used on the film's website and throwing in required fare like trailers and a music video, the special features package makes you feel full, but not really satisfied. The five featurettes are video diary entries from the 007.com website, but they use much of the same material as the longer "Bond on Location" documentary. And overall there's little exploration of or insight into the filmmakers' decisions about character and story. Ultimately, the most interesting item is the "Crew Files" (also originating from the website), which gives a deserving nod to some of the lower profile positions on the production, while also providing glimpses behind the scenes.

All items are 1.78 anamorphic with stereo audio, except where noted.

[Disc One]

Music Video "Another Way To Die" (4m30s): Jack White and Alicia Keys' video for the title song.

Teaser Trailer (1m50s): With Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Theatrical Trailer (2m23s): 2.40:1 anamorphic with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

[Disc Two]

"Bond on Location" (24m45s): A thorough tour of the film's many locations (the most of any Bond film), including Panama, Mexico, Chile, Austria, Italy, and of course England. Though 24 minutes is not a lot of time to cover every location in detail, the documentary focuses on the major set pieces that took place at each locale. I recommend viewing this lengthier piece as opposed to the subsequent featurettes, which use much of the same material but are presented less cohesively.

"Start of Shooting" Featurette (2m54s): Besides offering a date when shooting began (January 3, 2008), the piece offers a glimpse at stunt training, jet boat training and stunt driving training.

"On Location" Featurette (3m14s): Shooting in Mexico and Panama City.

"Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase" Featurette (2m14s): Kurylenko shares her experiences with stunts and stunt preparation.

"Director Marc Forster" Featurette (2m45s): Forster's working style, goals for the film and major challenges.

"The Music" Featurette (2m36s): Composer David Arnold talks about writing music, while Alicia Keys and Jack White offer their thoughts on the title song.

Crew Files (45m30s): Profiles of thirty-two members of the film crew, which include everyone from the location manager in Panama City to the DC3 airplane pilot to the title sequence directors. The sheer volume of profiles offers a nice glimpse at the variety of jobs associated with a film production and shed a little light on the jobs we often see scrolling by in the credits. All the pieces were originally shot for and posted on the film's website.


The Feature: 3/5
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 3/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

An overly personal - and ultimately gloomy - Bond film gets fantastic technical treatment but a mostly perfunctory special features package. Since we saw it happen before with "Casino Royale" I wouldn't be surprised by a future release with a more extensive set of extras. However, those who don't care so much about supplementals should be quite pleased with this release.
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#2 of 37 David_B_K

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Posted March 22 2009 - 05:07 AM

Thanks for the review. I liked this movie more than many here (and I did not care for The Dark Knight which many here loved).

The extras do not look worth the extra $, so I pre-ordered the single disc. I am glad they did not compromise the bitrate of the feature with those paltry extras.

#3 of 37 Tony J Case

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Posted March 30 2009 - 06:35 AM

This, my friends is a sad, sad day. This is the first time I dont own a 007 flick. Moonraker can now sleep easy in it's bed, knowing that it's no longer the worst Bond movie of all time - and I have a *VERY* high tolerance for bad movies.

Then you add in the fact that the Bond discs used to be the high water mark for boatloads of extras. They had some really well done documentaries - but this? Please, it's insulting.

#4 of 37 Richard--W

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Posted March 30 2009 - 10:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony J Case
This, my friends is a sad, sad day. This is the first time I dont own a 007 flick. Moonraker can now sleep easy in it's bed, knowing that it's no longer the worst Bond movie of all time - and I have a *VERY* high tolerance for bad movies.

Then you add in the fact that the Bond discs used to be the high water mark for boatloads of extras. They had some really well done documentaries - but this? Please, it's insulting.
Believe it or not the film looks better on Blu-ray than it did in a theater under state of the art projection. To bad the film doesn't merit the fine transfer.

I enjoy Quantum of Solace the way I enjoy the "B" spy films of the 1960s and 1970s. It is so far removed from its origins that I don't think of it as a Bond film at all. This new concept of the Bond character is so objectionable I'm glad the traditional Bond theme isn't used to lend it credibility (until the end titles). Classic espionage films like The Ipcress File, The Quiller Memorandum, and the adaptations of John LeCarre make Quantum of Solace look pathetic in comparison, and it's outclassed by the Bourne films. There are some interesting aspects visually and aesthetically, but they don't amount to much.

I've been enjoying the A&E Network's Horatio Hornblower Collector's Edition. Eight made-for-cable features in the box. Literate scripts telling original, inventive adventure stories with sensible, consistent characterizations in well-mounted productions. The action is well-staged and exciting. The producers are Michelle Buck, Delia Fine, and Andrew Benson. The director is Andrew Grieve. There are four or five excellent writers. This team really understands genre film making and how to tell a good story. Plus -- and this is very, very important -- they respect and maintain the concept and cultural identity of C.S. Forester's young hero. The very Englishness of these 8 films is refreshing. Too bad the Hornblower team can't be entrusted with the Bond films because the current owner and controllers of the franchise are creatively bankrupt.

#5 of 37 WadeM

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Posted March 30 2009 - 10:22 AM

I like dark, serious Bond--in fact, those are my favorites, but didn't care much for this one. Not that it matters--they'll still sell millions of copies.

#6 of 37 Bill GrandPre

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Posted March 31 2009 - 03:48 AM

Worse than "Moonraker"? That's a bit nuts if you ask me. The only great sin "Quantum of Solace" is guilty of is being a 4/5 followup to a 6/5 film.

Personally I'd only put "From Russia with Love", "Goldfinger", "Thunderball", "The Spy Who Loved Me", "Goldeneye" and "Casino Royale" above "QoS". The amount of over-hatred for this movie is insane.
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#7 of 37 John Hodson

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Posted March 31 2009 - 03:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill GrandPre
Worse than "Moonraker"? That's a bit nuts if you ask me. The only great sin "Quantum of Solace" is guilty of is being a 4/5 followup to a 6/5 film.

Hear, hear Bill...
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#8 of 37 Steve Christou

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Posted March 31 2009 - 07:09 AM

Bond in spaaaace! As much as I enjoyed the scrappy sequel to Casino Royale I much prefer Moonraker, my guilty favourite Bond, he shamefully admitted. Posted Image

And what no commentary on the QoS dvd? tsk tsk it'll be in the extreme ultimate collectors edition some time in 2010 or whenever the next 'gritty' humourless Bond instalment arrives at cinemas. Posted Image

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#9 of 37 Colin Jacobson

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Posted March 31 2009 - 08:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Christou
And what no commentary on the QoS dvd?

The original Casino Royale DVD didn't have a commentary either, so I guess it's par for the course... Posted Image
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#10 of 37 Shad R

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Posted March 31 2009 - 12:28 PM

Moonraker was one of those so bad it's funny movies I thought. It doesn't "fit" with the other Bond movies from the era. QOS was a huge dissapointment after how awesome Casino Royale was.

#11 of 37 Tony J Case

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Posted April 01 2009 - 06:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill GrandPre
Worse than "Moonraker"? That's a bit nuts if you ask me. The only great sin "Quantum of Solace" is guilty of is being a 4/5 followup to a 6/5 film.

How about the sin of taking the camera, strapping it to the back of an epileptic wolverine and throwing it into a room full of mannequins? Seriously, who's brilliant idea was it to dress bond and the bad guy he was chasing in (more or less) the same colored clothes and then shoot the action scene on that scaffold so shaky that I could not tell one person from another until someone was dead? I honestly could not tell what the fuck was going on in that scene. I will pay HUGE money to Hollywood if they just knock off the "We don't have actors that know how to fight, so we'll just zoom in real tight and shake the camera around a whole bunch instead" shit.

How about the sin of making Bond an uncouth thug who is only slightly better than the people he's opposing! Okay, I understand that Casino Royale was a reboot to the series, and that we see Bond learning to be Bond at the start of his career, and while I wasnt too fond of that movie, I was okay with that approach. But we should move past that now! I like my dapper secret agent in a unwrinkled tux with laser cufflinks and a martini in one hand (and a woman in a bikini on the other arm). I like my thinly disguised sexual innuendo female names. I liked my huge side-of-beef henchmen with weird teeth or some other physical deformity. I like it when the stakes are high, the world hangs in the balance while the evil mastermind orbits the planet in his death ray satellite, gloating.

How about the sin of no damn stunts? Bond has always been known for bigger than life stunts where real stunt men do real things that make you go "DAMN!", not this rapid fire bluescreen crap. Where's the guy skiing off the cliff? Where's the guy bungee jumping off the dam? Where's the car doing the 360 corkscrew jump? Where's the record breaking 70 foot speedboat jump over a cop car? Where's the guy leaping from back to back, using alligators as stepping stones?

How about the sin of shit music? The main theme is utterly dreadful. It's not a bad song for the first 30 seconds or so, and then Keys has to open her mouth and start singing. Hey look, someone forgot to include a melody! White and Keys have no audible chemistry and then the song really falls apart at the end when it's all hi-hat upfront burying the rest of the song. When you make Madonna's Die Another Day look good, something's gone horribly, horribly wrong. Oh and while we're speaking of music, where the hell is the Bond theme?!? Only once did we get the classic Bond theme, and that was at the very end. Come on, we need that back STAT. It's like the Jaws theme (the shark, not the guy with weird teeth) or the Shaft theme - when the Bond theme kicks in with the massive horn blasts and wicked guitar rift, you know some shit is about to go down.

I have been a Bond fan all my life, ever since my mom took me to see The Spy Who Loved Me in the theaters back in '77, and I've been hooked ever since. I've had all the films on VHS, then on laserdisc, now on DVD. I've read all of the Ian Flemming books, most of the John Gardner books and a couple of the Raymond Benson books. Hell, I even found a copy of Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis back in the mid-eighties. But I would take a dozen Casino Royale (I mean the shitty Woody Allen version and not the moderatly decient new version) over this turd any day of the week.

#12 of 37 Zack Gibbs

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Posted April 01 2009 - 07:51 AM

Indeed, QoS was nothing more than an over-budgeted, over-edited Steven Segal movie.
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#13 of 37 John Hodson

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Posted April 01 2009 - 09:11 AM

My feeling has been that the camp that hates Craig's Bond love Moore, and Connery fans (mostly) embrace this new incarnation. It's possibly a tad simplistic, but it appears to me to be divided along those lines.

Years ago (I think it was shortly after Brosnan's first effort), Connery said that the problem with Bond post Diamonds Are Forever, was that he was 'not quite hard enough, not quite dirty enough'.

Well, now he is.
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#14 of 37 David_B_K

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Posted April 01 2009 - 09:23 AM

Quote:
My feeling has been that the camp that hates Craig's Bond love Moore, and Connery fans (mostly) embrace this new incarnation. It's possibly a tad simplistic, but it appears to me to be divided along those lines.

Years ago (I think it was shortly after Brosnan's first effort), Connery said that the problem with Bond post Diamonds Are Forever, was that he was 'not quite hard enough, not quite dirty enough'.

Well, now he is.

Hear, hear.

#15 of 37 Colin Jacobson

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Posted April 01 2009 - 10:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
My feeling has been that the camp that hates Craig's Bond love Moore, and Connery fans (mostly) embrace this new incarnation. It's possibly a tad simplistic, but it appears to me to be divided along those lines.

It's a LOT simplistic. What about folks who loved Casino Royale but hated QoS? (That'd be me!)

I'm on board with Craig's Bond - I just thought QoS was a mess. That doesn't make me one who only likes silly, campy Bond...
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#16 of 37 Yumbo

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Posted April 01 2009 - 10:42 AM

The BR does look better than the cinema.
The sound has less bass than CR.

The plot was less impressive than CR.

#17 of 37 WadeM

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Posted April 01 2009 - 10:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin Jacobson
It's a LOT simplistic. What about folks who loved Casino Royale but hated QoS? (That'd be me!)

I'm on board with Craig's Bond - I just thought QoS was a mess. That doesn't make me one who only likes silly, campy Bond...


And that makes me too. Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton are my 2 favorite Bonds, and Craig is the best since Dalton, possibly/probably better than him. However, I did NOT like QOS - very much enjoyed Casino Royale.



Edit: I see that John was referring to those who hate Craig, which I don't--I like him as Bond very much, just don't like one of his 2 Bond movies...

#18 of 37 Tony J Case

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Posted April 01 2009 - 11:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
My feeling has been that the camp that hates Craig's Bond love Moore, and Connery fans (mostly) embrace this new incarnation. It's possibly a tad simplistic, but it appears to me to be divided along those lines.

Naw, that's not it - at least for me. I love Connery just as much as Moore. I also think that poor old Dalton got the shaft with crap scripts and would have been an awesome Bond with some time to grow. I like Brosnan and while I think that Lazenbe was a tad wooden, given another movie to loosen up into the roll, he would have been a great Bond.

It's not even Dan that I object to. The blond hair is merely superficial - I can live with that. And I don't mind him being a cold hearted bastard - I loved the moment Brosnan used his license to kill and executed whatsiface in Tomorrow Never Dies, or the bit in For Your Eyes Only where Moore kicks Locque's car over the cliff. No, I blame Broccoli and Wilson for making him an unlikable brutish thug.

(But then under Barbara Broccoli's reign, the films have become downright prudish - the nude sand motif of the opening credits, for example, is too damn shy to shamelessly celebrate female beauty like Maurice Binder's classic sequences of the seventies and eighties.)

#19 of 37 Richard--W

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Posted April 01 2009 - 11:50 AM

I don't see how any of the actors who have played Bond can be faulted. In fact the actors from Connery all the way up to Craig are largely responsible for holding the franchise together. I enjoy all their performances. Interesting that each actor exits the series feeling a little cheated; except perhaps Dalton, who's never talked publicly about it.

No, my complaint is with how the character of James Bond has been redefined, with the producing and writing decisions that are made before an actor becomes involved. Decisions like "our next film QoS has to be more like the Bourne films" and "make James Bond more like a Dirty Harry or a Paul Kersey" and "make sure Bond is excoriated in the dialog like the discussions on Oprah." The last six Bond films will become known to future generations as the "Stop! or my M. will shoot!" phase of the series. It really is time to change the producers at the helm or at least over-rule them somehow so that they can't impose any more destructive creative controls.

This new James Bond has an inner ugliness instead of an inner decency. He's as dumb as a post in Casino Royale and he's all monkey-see / monkey-do in QoS. He is not closer to Fleming's Bond, but the furthest away the series has ever been. He is an insult to the audience's intelligence.

#20 of 37 Zack Gibbs

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Posted April 01 2009 - 12:26 PM

Of all the Actors the only one I don't really care for is Moore. I enjoy some of his adventures, but he himself always seemed unlikeable.

I never really thought about it much until recent viewings of Moore in "Maverick." His episodes are just dull and boring, and its hard to root for him. This is solely due to Moore, if either of the other Maverick's were in his place it would be a vast improvement.
"Because he's the hero that Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now... and so we'll hunt him... because he can take it... because he's not a hero... he's a silent guardian, a watchful protector... a DARK KNIGHT."


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