Matthew Vaughn’s loving homage to 1960s style spy thrillers arrives on UHD Blu-ray with an improved picture thanks to the higher resolution and more efficient codec.
The Production: 3.5/5
Using the comic series The Secret Service written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons (and published by Icon Comics) as inspiration, director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman created an homage to 1960s spy thrillers such as the James Bond series, with a cartoonish and modern-day twist. Harry Hart aka Galahad (Colin Firth) is a member of the Kingsman, a long line of modern-day knights that secretly save the world from evil-doers, each member going by a code name from King Arthur’s round table. When a team member sacrifices himself to save his crew on a mission, Harry feels responsible, offering not only condolences but a medal that eventually amounts to a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to a young Eggsy (who uses it several years later after getting arrested for stealing a car). The two men bond over a pint of beer at the local pub (which culminates in one of the many action set pieces in the film), and Harry nominates Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as his candidate for the Kingsman training program when an opening in the agency becomes available. While Eggsy is training with the other cadets under Merlin’s (Mark Strong) tutelage, Harry uncovers a sinister plot by entrepeneur Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) to rid the planet of much of the population through the use of the free cell phones his company is providing. For a more detailed review of the film, please read Matt Hough’s review of the Blu-ray release.
I remember my reaction to the film was decidedly mixed upon my first screening at an afternoon $2 matinee nearly a year ago at the Starplex Woodbridge, weeks before it would arrive on Blu-ray. Granted, part of that reaction was due to being unprepared, somehow thinking the film had obtained a PG-13 rating (Vaughn’s prior film was X-Men: First Class and I had first seen the trailer for Kingsman during X-Men: Days of Future Past, both rated PG-13) , and instead viewing a very hard R-rated action comedy. I’m not prudish, but it was like ordering a steak cooked medium and getting it rare. And yet, there really isn’t much bloodshed to go with the often cartoonish violence that includes dismemberments, an agent being split down the middle, exploding heads, etc. Kingsman is part spy thriller, part British comedy, and part Pygmalion, and director Vaughn walks that tightrope between the three rather cleverly, a film that has eventually grown on me after repeated viewings.
3D Rating: NA
As with most of the first wave of UHD Blu-ray releases, Kingsman was completed in 2K for theatrical release, having been shot digitally with the ARRI Alexa. Fox has upscaled the 2K image to 2160p, retaining the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, and then regraded using High Dynamic Range. Before I delve into my observations, it should be noted that I reviewed this disc on what is currently the only available UHD Blu-ray player on the market, the Samsung UBD-K8500, connecting the main HDMI output to an LG 65UF8500 (which unfortunately does not support high dynamic range or HDR10) and the secondary HDMI output to a Marantz SR5008 receiver for lossless audio decoding. That being said, the UHD Blu-ray is a vast improvement over the previous Blu-ray release (which my colleague Matt Hough gave a 5 out of 5 for video). Colors appear more natural and solid, without any banding or bleeding. As one would expect, detail also excels, particularly the rocks and grains of sand in the opening title sequence and the textured walls of the Kingsman offices which by comparison looked almost smeared on the Blu-ray. To a lesser degree, contrast was also improved with deeper blacks and an overall brighter picture without appearing washed out.
The UHD Blu-ray contains the same DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track as the Blu-ray release. I lowered my score a half point because the film was released to theaters in Dolby Atmos, which was skipped over on both the Blu-ray and UHD editions in favor the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track.
Special Features: 3.5/5
The UHD disc contains no bonus features whatsoever. All of the bonus features can be found on the Blu-ray disc, which is identical to the stand-alone Blu-ray release.
Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed (1080p; 91:41)
Art Galleries (1080p)
Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:22)
Sneek Peaks (1080p): Trailers for Spy, X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Edition, and Unfinished Business.
Digital HD Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy through Ultraviolet.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is possibly too British for most US audiences, but the film did find a fanbase worldwide, leading to a sequel arriving in theaters in 2017, and made a star out of Taron Egerton. The UHD release is a noticeable improvement over the previous Blu-ray disc, with increased detail, color gamut, and contrast.