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Quantum of Solace Blu-ray Review
Daniel Craig took the world by storm with his universally praised performance as James Bond in Casino Royale, a film that revolutionized and revitalized the stagnant Bond franchise. By emphasizing the character’s grittier literary roots, Mr. Craig’s Bond was a far cry from the wisecracking cheese-ball of the eighties and nineties, who had long since traded in any and all credibility, for invisible cars and missions to space.
Many have hailed Mr. Craig as the true heir to Sean Connery’s legacy as the originator of the character, a remarkable testament to Craig’s success in the role and high praise considering his single performance as the legendary spy. 2008 brought Quantum of Solace; Mr. Craig’s second outing as James Bond, as well as the first true sequel in the history of the Bond franchise. It’s a film that challenged audiences while racking up record box office numbers around the globe, securing Mr. Craig’s status as a different breed of James Bond.
Quantum of Solace begins mere minutes after the conclusion of Casino Royale, with Bond (Daniel Craig) and his trusty Aston Martin whisking a captured Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to a MI6 safe house; walking directly into a trap. White escapes, nearly killing M (Judy Dench), and thrusts Bond into a desperate race to identify White’s secretive criminal organization. Bond’s ability to separate himself from his emotions is challenged at every turn, as painful memories of Vesper Lynd’s (Eva Green) death and betrayal drive him to vengeance. During his investigations, Bond encounters Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a corrupt environmentalist and member of Mr. White’s criminal enterprise, a mysterious terrorist conglomerate known as Quantum. Bond will track Greene to Bolivia, where he’ll join forces with a beautiful agent named Camille (Olga Kurylenko); her own painful past driving her obsession to seek revenge against Greene and his conspirators. On their mission of revenge and justice, will these two emotionally wounded assassins find solace in confronting the people responsible for their pain?
I can’t understand the backlash that seemed to haunt Quantum of Solace while it was breaking records in theaters. The film is a direct continuation of Casino Royale and serves as the final chapter in what amounts to one long narrative. It’s the film's reliance on audience familiarity with Casino Royale that probably caused confusion and mediocre reviews. Those not familiar with the intricate details of Casino Royale will be completely lost, without a frame of reference to appreciate Quantum and its relentless storytelling. If you intend to watch Quantum of Solace and haven’t seen Casino Royale, do yourself a favor and watch both films in succession. Even viewers who are familiar with the first film should commit to re- watching Casino before diving into Quantum.
In his second outing as James Bond, Daniel Craig confirms his mastery of the role, while delivering a disciplined and modulated performance that finds Bond seething with barely hidden rage. He’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. Quantum of Solace is almost completely devoid of humor; it’s a serious film about Bond’s quest to bring Vesper’s killers to justice. Those hoping for witty one-liners and gadgets will be sorely disappointed; this Bond is far too busy stalking his prey and delivering a series of serious smack- downs. It occurred to me about mid-way through Quantum of Solace, that Daniel Craig is the first actor to portray Bond as a physically imposing force; he’s still a magnet for the ladies and knows how to wear his impeccable Tom Ford suits, but this Bond isn’t afraid to get his hands (and suits) dirty. Frankly, Bond is a pretty scary guy; the kind of guy that nobody would ever even consider messing with.
Quantum of Solace is a relentless film; a ninety minute third act that serves as the conclusion to Casino Royale. As a stand-alone adventure, the film will confuse most viewers, while enthralling fans of Casino Royale. It’s easily the most action packed of any of the Bond films and, despite rumor to the contrary, actually has an emotionally resonant plot. Quantum of Solace is highly recommended.
Quantum of Solace is, perhaps, the most visually distinctive James Bond film yet produced. Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer has given the film a series of unique styles that represent the various locations that Bond visits throughout the film. As Bond travels to Haiti, the film becomes grittier, with heightened contrast and more ample grain, while shedding color saturation in favor of a more monochromatic look. Similarly, scenes in the Bolivian desert also feature raised contrast and grain levels, but also feature a more saturated color palette of deep browns and blues. Many locations are lusher in their photographic styles, while some take on a steely-blue tone and cleaner esthetic. Some might complain about these stylistic choices given the resulting inconsistent grain structure and color palettes, but I tend to find photography of this type more interesting and complex than a more straightforward style.
Framed at the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and encoded at 1080p using the AVC Mpeg-4 compression scheme, Quantum of Solace is absolutely faithful to its intended look, while improving certain elements of the presentation. I saw the film on four occasions theatrically; this Blu-ray edition captures that look perfectly, rendering the picture more sharply and with a richer color palette. It’s a rare example of a film that actually exceeds the quality viewers experienced at the local Cineplex. Any time a film that would ordinarily be considered a straight action piece strives for a high level of photographic artistry, it goes a long way towards enriching my total viewing experience. Quantum of Solace is the rare action film that does just that. Considering the cinematographic lows that the Bond franchise has flirted with over the years, Quantum of Solace is a welcome change.
Prepare to be floored. Quantum of Solace is one of the most heart-pounding, window shattering and earth shaking surround sound experiences I’ve ever had on Blu-ray. Everything about the track is the epitome of reference grade, from the quietest dialogue passages, to the most speaker-shredding action sequences. MGM has wisely utilized lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio encoding for the track; the results are incredible and will leave viewers shaking their heads in disbelief. Take for example the opening car chase that takes place around Italy’s Lake Como. The sequence begins without musical accompaniment, as Bond races his Aston Martin through oncoming traffic, dodging gunfire and performing automotive acrobatics. Guttural engine shrieks race around the surround channels, the subwoofer pounds with deep, immediate bass, gunfire ricochets off of the cliff wall and bounces off of passing vehicles, all while subtle wind noise swirls around the room. It’s an amazing display of sonic wizardry that places the viewer in the center of the action, unable to take one’s eyes off of the screen. Amazing.
Though the film is light on heavy dialogue passages, those that do occur are handled with precision and the utmost clarity. Another sequence that takes place in an Austrian opera venue uses subtle surround cues to move sound around the room, in conjunction with Bond’s movements through the scene. It’s one more example among dozens of demonstration-worthy scenes that elevates this presentation to the top tier of Blu-ray audio experiences. Quantum of Solace is the surround experience of the year, making the film an essential purchase for audio aficionados.
Here’s what’s included:
- “Bond on Location”
- “Start of Shooting”
- “On Location”
- “The Music”
- “Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase”
- “Director Marc Forster”
- Crew Files
- “Another Way to Die” Music Video with Jack White and Alicia Keys
- Theatrical Trailers
Quantum of Solace lands on Blu-ray with a relatively light dusting of special features. Heavy on featurettes, but light on substantive content, the set culls material developed for the film’s website and repackages it for Blu-ray. “Bond on Location” is a pre- release documentary that is more of a promotional reel than anything; it’s fairly lightweight and not particularly satisfying. The remaining featurettes are comprised of the assembled web features, none of which manage to offer much scope or behind the scenes information. The crew files section is essentially a lengthy biographical sketch of various crewmembers from the film; it also fails to impress. The best extra, however, is the music video for Jack White and Alicia Keys’ “Another Way to Die;” it’s an exceptional Bond theme that is bound to grow on fans with repeat viewings. Finally, the film’s theatrical trailers have been included in high definition.
Quantum of Solace is an exceptional James Bond picture that was unfairly maligned by critics. Perhaps the film’s abrupt beginning, which starts without alerting audiences to the plot of the previous film, caught viewers who weren’t intimately familiar with Casino Royale off guard. As such, viewers of Quantum of Solace are advised to re- watch Casino Royale immediately prior to beginning the film. MGM’s Blu-ray presentation of the film is first rate; its reference grade video and audio set new standards in Blu-ray quality. Those on the lookout for supplements, however, will be disappointed in the slim selection of extras included with the release. Quantum of Solace is an intensely exciting James Bond adventure that ties up loose ends from Casino Royale, while cementing Daniel Craig’s place among the best Bonds in history.
Quantum of Solace receives my highest recommendation.
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|alexberg||Blu-ray on the way||5||Mar 28 2009, 6:00 PM EDT by koolkikij|
Thread started: Mar 22 2009, 3:49 PM EDT Watch
As a recent blu-ray convert I'm thrilled this movie is en route. I also took the liberty of getting From Russia with Love while I'm add it. Sigh, first I abandoned my VHS tapes for DVDs and now my Bond DVDs are getting Blu-ray upgrades. Bond is my stimulus package I guess.
|JustinAtheropinion||Quantum Blu-Ray Review||0||Mar 26 2009, 1:04 PM EDT by JustinAtheropinion|
Thread started: Mar 26 2009, 1:04 PM EDT Watch
The car-chase is accompanied by music from the very first frame...Arnold also employed some car-effects to blend in with the practical effects that would (no doubt) be used.
The writer (a reviewer, himself) assumes that it was unfamiliarity with Casino Royale that created the negative reviews...as if those same critics had not seen the earlier film. Poppycock!
If anything it was critics being familiar with Casino Royale that garnered the boo's, as QOS was inferior to the earlier film in any number of ways: writing, direction, editing(!). It was impossible not to miss the drop.
We walk into these things egging them on, wishing them well, and when they don't turn out well, we say it.
"This Bond isn't afraid to get his hands (and his suit) dirty." Hello, Timothy Dalton, "Mr. Expert." Even Sean Connery walked out of a sewer pipe with his tux looking good.
"Considering the cinematographic lows that the Bond franchise has flirted with over the years, Quantum of Solace is a welcome change." There's something about this sentence that irks me. The Bond series has employed some of great DP's in film history. Now, if he's talking about the low-light experiments in "Tomorrow Never Dies," I might agree. If he's talking about bad special effects shots from the 60's...well, we've moved on.
I would contend that rather than being "a ninety minute third act that serves as the conclusion to Casino Royale" that it's more of an intermission, with a fourth act still to be played.
James Bond Will Return. To better days, I'm sure.
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|Anonymous||Quantum of Solace Blu-ray review....||1||Mar 26 2009, 12:39 PM EDT by JustinAtheropinion|
Thread started: Mar 25 2009, 6:43 AM EDT Watch
Was that Blu-ray review done by the Director himself ?
the Critics were NOT unfair they got it spot on !
Daniel Craig may well make an excellent Bond - that is IF he gets a chance to portray him !
In CR it worked as he was meant to be Ian Fleming's "Uncut Rough Diamond" (Bond Before his "Terence Young" makeover !) yet in Q of S the guy doesn't even change expression !!!
I have seen DC interviewed - charming, great Dry humour, a cool style yet he DC is an Expressionless Zombie from start to finish, duly put in his place by his "Mother" (is that what 'M' now stands for ?) about every five minutes
indeed 'M' seems to have greater prominence than the attractve Leading Lady does !
the wonderful action sequences WOULD be great, if you were able to actually take them in
A "Pop video" style ultra fast and SHAKEY camera shot change leaves your eyes watering while any sense of true atmosphere & Danger is lost consumed in a mish-mash of speeding images rather like trying to make Artistic sense of a plane crash as it happens to you !
there may WELL be a half decent film buried under all this stylistic kaliedoscope but it's almost impossible to decypher it !
The film does NOT seem to have any Logical development either just a Roller coaster of events with no real opening other than a car chase & shoot out (How many of them have we seen ?) then Bond just seems to stumble along...opposed by a totally forgettable opponent (all I can recall is he looked like Director Roman Polanski !)
.and Bond simply leaves him out in the Desert hardly an approach Fleming would have used.... ?
I was genunely surprised when the film suddenly Ended at one hour 42 minutes or whatever....it never really felt like the thing was building to ANY sort of conclusion at all....
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