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|Home: BigScreen Journal - Blu-ray Review: Quantum of Solace|
Quantum of Solace
List Price: $39.99 (Check Price at Amazon.com)
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| Video Format:
Movie: BD-50 (x1) BD-J
Quantum of Solace picks up where Casino Royale left off, making the latter essentially required viewing to know what's going on. There is a new director at the helm, so can the guy who made Monster's Ball do Casino Royale one better?
Expectations were high, since Casino Royale successfully rebooted the lagging James Bond franchise and made it enjoyable again. If one looked at Box Office receipts as the measure of whether it succeeded, one would say "just barely" as it earned pretty much the same in the U.S. even though the two movies were separated by two years and at least two or three rounds of movie ticket price increases.
About four months after its theatrical release, can the Blu-ray high definition home video release satisfy Bond fans? Find out for yourself in the following review.
The picture quality was very good, conveying the exotic and rundown locations equally. Italy looks picture postcard perfect, and MI-6 headquarters couldn't look colder. While the second half of the movie takes place in a South American desert, so the look is decidely brown, grainy, and dry, it is still very sharp and completely free of artifacts or other issues.
The DTS lossless Master Audio soundtrack (even when rendered in lossy DTS Digital Surround) exceeded the picture quality! The movie begins with a car chase scene in Italy, then a fight sequence, and so on.
Every moment was a sonic pleasure, giving the subwoofer a workout one minute and allowing a laid-back interlude give you a break while you watch James Bond take a boat ride to visit a friend, and then the fists start flying all over again. Explosions are rendered as well as music, and the dialogue is always intelligible.
If this is what happens when a movie studio uses DTS-HD Master Audio, more studios should do so! Many of us without the ability to enjoy the lossless soundtrack due to older sound equipment end up listening to the Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS Digital Surround 5.1 tracks instead, and I have often felt underwhelmed when doing so.
It might just be my mind playing tricks on me; taunting me for not making the next-gen sound plunge yet, but many Dolby Digital tracks that should be incredible are not. Could it be that the Dolby Digital tracks are down at 448kbps and DTS Digital Surround tracks are 1.5Mbps? It might be more mind tricks, but this movie will make a believer out of you!
I like to see the theatrical trailer included with movies, so I was happy to see not just one, but two trailers. Both were in HD and featured 5.1 soundtracks. The rest of the extras are pretty standard press kit stuff that we're very used to seeing on DVD releases, and MGM chose not to take advantage of any of the Blu-ray format's capabilities to deliver extras.
This makes it pretty obvious that a double-dip situation is in play, and we'll probably see a special edition with Picture-in-Picture commentary, BD-Live functionality, and other cool things some time around the theatrical or home video release of the next Bond movie.
This disc is BD-J formatted, but unlike some other recent titles, our PlayStation 3 was not able to support auto-resuming the movie. Bookmarking is also not supported.
I'm somewhat conflicted when it comes to a recommendation about this title. On one hand, fans of the movie will enjoy the high definition picture and sound that MGM provided in this release. On the other hand, the lack of substantial extras makes this almost surely a stop-gap release, with a more full-featured release coming in the future. It comes down to how often you would like to watch Quantum of Solace, and how long you would be willing to wait for that predicted double-dip special edition (that may not ever come). For reference, Casino Royale appeared on Blu-ray in March 2007, and the 2-disc Special Edition was released in October 2008.
If you are fortunate enough to have a Netflix membership, I think it's better to rent this one and wait for that special edition. Even if it never comes, you may be able to find this one for under $20 after some time has passed. If you're set on buying this, make sure that you take advantage of the discounts available at places like Amazon, where you can save up $15 off the list price. The list price of $40 is certainly too much money to pay for any single movie, especially one with as few substantial extras and no innovative features to add to the value of the purchase.
Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the disc.
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