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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Blu-ray Review

by AVF Staff Feb 3, 2012


Movies review

7

  • Movie
  • Blu-ray
Movie: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Title: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Media: Blu-ray
Region:B
Country:UK
Certificate:15
Running Time:127 minutes
Sound:English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround
Subtitles:English SDH
Extras:COMMENTARY WITH GARY OLDMAN & DIRECTOR TOMAS ALFREDSON
- JOHN le CARRÉ INTERVIEW
- DELETED SCENES
- SMILEY FEATURETTE
- INSIDE THE CIRCUS FEATURETTE
- SHADOW WORLD FEATURETTE
- JOHN le CARRÉ FEATURETTE
- INTERVIEWS WITH GARY OLDMAN, COLIN FIRTH, TOM HARDY, DIRECTOR TOMAS ALFREDSON AND SCREENWRITER PETER STRAUGHAN
- UK PREMIERE FEATURETTE
- SKY MOVIES FEATURETTE
- PHOTO GALLERY
- TRAILERS

Picture

‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ comes to UK Region B locked Blu-ray with an interesting 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio.

I use the term ‘interesting’ to describe the picture as some may feel that the image quality does not befit a recently made movie on the High Def format.

Realistically though, the transfer communicates the director’s intent. The look of the piece includes significant film grain, which is noticeable throughout – because that’s what the director wanted. The colour palette is limited and everything looks pale, dull and grey. There are no strong, vibrant primaries to behold. There are also no Hollywood tans here, just good old realistic British skin tones.

The image is sharp enough, but just not quite bitingly so. Contrast is healthy enough and we do get deep blacks in the night scenes. While this may well be what the director intended, it isn’t very pretty – and it fits the story perfectly. It’s an unattractive view of the world of espionage – stripped of the gloss and glamour of the Bond movies.



Sound

The audio on ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ comes in the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour and, like the movie itself, it’s very subtle. The dialogue upon which the whole movie hinges is clear as a bell and it doesn’t attempt to be gimmicky by being directional. The director wanted everyone’s attention to be on the screen, so most of the speech is locked to front centre. The rather restrained, delicate score by Alberto Iglesias comes from the main stereo pair but it never soars – as that would be incongruous. The surrounds are almost imperceptibly used for ambient effects but this could never be described as an immersive mix. It wants to keep the audience detached. There is some use of bass in the atmospheric sense, but it never strays into the realms of a ‘blockbuster’ movie soundtrack. What we have here is a very carefully thought out sound mix that excels in fitting in with the rather drab visuals to create an experience of the rather seedy world of the spy.



Extras

The version reviewed was the UK Region B locked Double Play package which includes a Blu-ray and DVD of the movie. The bonus features are as follows:

Commentary - Director Tomas Alfredson and star Gary Oldman get together to give us a rather stilted commentary track that has a rather soporific effect on the listener. Oldman points out what he admired in the performances of the other cast members. Alfredson lets us in on some of the decisions and choices he made during the production. It’s a very thoughtful conversation, though perhaps not the most riveting.

Featurettes

Smiley (HD, 2 mins 24s) - The director, cast and John Le Carre describe the character of George Smiley. Apparently he’s cool.

Inside the Circus (HD, 2mins 9 s) - John Le Carre explains all about ‘The Circus’ and ‘Control’ from real life while the cast join in with their views on the characters.

Shadow World (HD, 2 mins 14s) - Gary Oldman and the cast express their respect for the director as well as give us their take on the story.

John Le Carre (HD, 2 mins 20s) - The director and cast tell us of their experience of the writer, while Le Carre talks about the character of Smiley and his experience working in the world of espionage.

Interviews

Gary Oldman (HD, 7 mins 35s) - The actor talks about the book and the TV series, his motivation for wanting to do the film, the character of Smiley among other things in this interview divided up by title cards.

Colin Firth (HD, 6 mins 28s) - The thinking woman’s crumpet talks about the book, Le Carre’s writing and how difficult it is to make a film of such a detailed book.

Tom Hardy (HD, 3mins 22 s) - The actor reveals that he’d never read the book, how much he liked the script and what it was like to work with such a well known cast.

Director Tomas Alfredson & Writer Peter Straughan (HD, 6 mins 56s) - The two perform a double act here and reveal that they’re not really spy novel readers, but it was the relations between the characters that made it interesting for them. They discuss the TV series and the writer admits to nervousness on approaching the script. Alfredson describes what it was like to work with a great cast.

John Le Carre Interview (HD, 30 mins) - Le Carre tells us of his involvement in the real spy world, post Kim Philby and George Blake, of the paranoia that existed amid the witch hunts. This is a marvellous insight into his world. It’s an unfinished interview, with no presenter to camera or proper voice over – just a disembodied voice ‘on set’ asking the questions.

Other Bonus Features

Deleted Scenes (HD, 5 mins 43s) - The deleted scenes include Smiley cooking, evidence of his wife's adultery, a swimming segment and a very uneasy lunchtime pint involving Guillam and Bland.

UK Premiere Featurette (HD, 4 mins 47s) - The usual suspects interviewed on the red carpet before the UK premiere. It’s a bit of puff.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Sky Movies Special (HD, 20 mins) - The interviews that we’ve already seen are used together with movie clips to produce a PR promo that was shown on Sky.

Photo Gallery - A fine collection of production stills showing most of the characters.

Audio Books - Michael Jayston – he of the melifluous voice - reads Chapter 1 of ‘The Honourable Schoolboy’ (Audio only 54 mins) and Chapter 1 of ‘Smiley’s People’ (Audio only 55 mins)

Trailers (HD, total 3 mins 30s) - We get the Teaser as well as the full Theatrical trailer and they hint at more action than the movie held.



Verdict

‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ sneaks on to UK Region B locked Blu-ray with an interesting 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The image is dull, grey and grainy while remaining sharp – just as the director intended.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track ensures we get crisp, clear dialogue throughout and a very subtle blend of music and effects to fit in with the visuals.

The bonus features comprise, amongst other things, a collection of mini featurettes and interviews with the cast while the most interesting is with author John Le Carre. A commentary track from director Tomas Alfredson and star Gary Oldman round off the package.

As a movie, it’s a superbly crafted adaptation of the book that manages to cram a lot of detail into a two hour run time. Spymaster George Smiley is pulled out of retirement to track down a mole at the top of the British Secret Service. Gary Oldman delivers a performance that is a study of intense intellect backed up by a strong cast including John Hurt, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciaran Hinds. This is a thinking person’s spy movie.



The Rundown

Movie

8

Picture Quality

8

Sound Quality

8

Extras

7

Overall

8

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    1. The News Bot

      The News Bot News Supplying Robot Staff Member

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      John Le Carre has always written very ‘serious’ spy novels. By that I mean that they were very cold, clinical and did not exude the gloss and glamour of the world of espionage popularly portrayed by other writers. His heroes never had the latest set of gadgets from ‘Q’ Branch, nor did they perform near impossible physical feats to overcome the villains of the piece. This was the case in the books and it was carried forward with the 1979 BBC adaptation of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ when Sir Alec Guiness made the role of spymaster George Smiley his own.

      It should come as no great surprise then, that the very recent movie version of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, (now out on UK Region B locked Blu-ray) should be any different. If it had been, the legions of Le Carre fans would have been very disappointed. Directed by Tomas Alfredson (‘Let the Right One In’), it boasts a superb cast including Gary Oldman (as...


      Read the full review...
    2. simonblue

      simonblue Active Member

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      Good review,looking forward to this.

      Read the book,seen it on TV :)
    3. emthree

      emthree Member

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      Saw the movie, then read the book (again), then saw the whole BBC TV series (again), then saw the film again! Gary Oldman has done what had seemed undoable at first; made the role of Smiley his own but in a vastly different manner than Alec Guinness did. It is sacrilege to say it but in places I felt Oldman was more the Smiley from the pages of the book than Guinness. The scene where Smiley meets Karla in Delhi, the book and the TV series take Smiley to Delhi and show the duel with Karla. In the movie, Oldman plays the whole scene sitting in a chair, narrating it to ? Guillam. That is a spellbinding piece of acting, vastly more effective than the way the scene is shot in the TV series. I don't own the BBC series on DVD but I am seriously considering owning the Oldman version.

      Great review, as always.:smashin:
    4. MJeeves

      MJeeves Active Member

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      I thought I'd like this. Great cast, great pedigree etc... But... sad to say I found it very very dull. Couldn't get into it at all.

      Seems that this films really polarizes opinion. Here it is winning awards and nomination etc, but everyone who I know who's seen it thought it was very... well... dull. :confused:
    5. emthree

      emthree Member

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      I think the movie is very compact, 6 hours packed in just over 2 hours. One almost has to know the book (or at the least the BBC series) and be very familiar with the characters to fully appreciate the story and the characters/acting. If one is familiar with characters, then it is Shakespearean in scope, otherwise it is akin to going to see a movie of Hamlet without knowing anything about the characters. i.e. hard work!

      Just my 2 pennies worth!:smashin:
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    6. Metalhead Pete

      Metalhead Pete Member

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      Thought the same TBH, it was alright but nothing special IMO.
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    7. stanga

      stanga Member

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      Having watched the TV series about three weeks before watching this version, I was disappointed. I don't feel the hype is justified.

      The book is one of my favourite espionage novels ever, only really equalled by The Honourable Schoolboy. Yet some of the poetic licence on display in this film is bizarre. Cumberbatch's Guillam is unconvincing. The character in Carre's book comes across as a bit of bruiser, and this is especially developed in Schoolboy. Cumberbatch is just limp in this. Gerry Westerby as a Liverpudlian is just wrong.

      The opening sequence is just silly and even has a touch of melodrama. I simply can't understand why they didn't try to improve the original setting - it has enough dramatic tension.

      Boris and Irina's fates are nonsensical and the ending is just so stripped down and 'lite' it seems to miss the point of the whole book. I'd like to go into detail why, but don't want to spoil it for others!

      Some things were good, however. The overall performances were great and I thought that Oldman did Smiley justice - apart from Cumberbatch, the casting was great. I liked Tom Hardy as Ricky. The atmosphere of the film was also good. I loved the Christmas party with the Soviet Santa.

      Overall, the BBC radio dramatization did a better job, IMO. It was more faithful to the book. Worth checking out.
  • Production

    Type Blu-ray
    Studio Optimum Home Entertainment
    Region B
    Country UK
    Certificate 15
    Number of Discs 1
    Retail Price £19.99
    Running Time 127 Minutes
    Release Date 20120130
    SKU OPTBD2077

    Picture

    Aspect Ratio 2.40:1

    Sound

    Sound Options English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround
    Subtitles English SDH
    Extras COMMENTARY WITH GARY OLDMAN & DIRECTOR TOMAS ALFREDSON
    - JOHN le CARRÉ INTERVIEW
    - DELETED SCENES
    - SMILEY FEATURETTE
    - INSIDE THE CIRCUS FEATURETTE
    - SHADOW WORLD FEATURETTE
    - JOHN le CARRÉ FEATURETTE
    - INTERVIEWS WITH GARY OLDMAN, COLIN FIRTH, TOM HARDY, DIRECTOR TOMAS ALFREDSON AND SCREENWRITER PETER STRAUGHAN
    - UK PREMIERE FEATURETTE
    - SKY MOVIES FEATURETTE
    - PHOTO GALLERY
    - TRAILERS
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