Kingsman: The Golden Circle Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
At least Firth is back, and at least the 4K UHD looks like candy.
Matthew Vaughn delivers this sequel to the fun hit action-comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service, which is based on Mark Millar's excellent graphic novel.Undoubtedly Millar's absence leaves a gaping hole in this production, with Vaughn - familiar with this kind of violent action-comic material - struggling to give his first sequel any kind of worth beyond the purely superficial. Throwing up everything, and hoping something sticks, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is - below the surface - paper thin. Another generic evil villain is trying to decimate the world. The motivations are terrible, and the threat carries no weight whatsoever. In order to prevent them responding, the elite Kingsmen are taken out, leaving only Eggsy and Merlin to try and solve the problem. They journey to Kentucky to join up with the US Statesmen, who offer their resources in stopping the threat. Meanwhile an old, familiar face reappears - the previous Galahad: Eggsy's mentor, Harry - although the bullet he took to the head has left him missing a few pieces.The Golden Circle is a bloated, noisy mess. Sure, it's flashy and well put-together, but it takes far too long to get going - for a movie with Firth plastered across the posters, promo teasers, trailers and credits, he doesn't appear for almost an hour - and then goes on to completely outstay its welcome. Julianne Moore cashes a pay cheque, but is nowhere near as bad as Elton John. However it's actually the Statesmen themselves who truly disappoint - not because of performances but because they are utterly redundant in the story, playing little more than marketing tools. Firth's return and ensuing character arc would have made an interesting movie in its own right, but is not enough to redeem what is a fleetingly watchable but largely banal affair, blasting you with noise and fury from the outset, and drowning you with charmless excess.
Picture QualityKingsman: The Golden Circle globetrots its way onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a candy coloured HEVC / H.265 encoded 2160p transfer. The UHD Blu-ray was reviewed on a Samsung UE55KS8000 Ultra HD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
Shot digitally at 2.8K, the film is unfortunately technically restricted by a 2K digital intermediate, although the results are still pretty dazzling, with a suitably over the top colour scheme that pops with vibrancy. The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen.
Whatever you might think about the movie there's something utterly demo about aspects of the presentation
Detail is fine-tuned here, receiving a nominal but still appreciable uptick in tangible detail, clarity and definition, no doubt often a side-effect of keen WCG and HDR implementation. Precision is key, setting this release apart from its Blu-ray counterpart even if the tech specs would have us believe otherwise. Shadow detail is impressive too, with the darker recesses explored with better effect, as HDR brings a better gradation in blacks and peak whites, whilst the colour scheme benefits greatly from WCG, allowing the image to pop with kaleidoscopic candy colours (Julianne Moore's fortress of doom is rich with candy reds for all the classic Americana) in ways which simply leave the Blu-ray in the dust. Whatever else you might think of the movie, and no matter the technical restrictions of the 2K DI, there's something utterly demo about these aspects of the presentation in ways not wholly unlike Transformers: The Last Knight.
Sound QualityThe accompanying immersive Dolby Atmos audio track marks something of a technical upgrade over the Blu-ray's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 counterpart, although it's hard to improve upon the reference excellence of the core elements of the soundtrack, with the underlying Dolby TrueHD 7.1 foundation already outstanding in every way.
The soundtrack is outstanding in every way
Whilst dialogue remains firmly prioritised, boasting clarity and coherence throughout, it's the score - even if it is a step down from the first movie - and the bombastic effects which truly deliver the demo goods here, sweeping you up in a thoroughly engulfing action affair which, at least on a technical front, leaves you with very little if anything to complain about. From the myriad gunshots, explosions and imaginative gadgets on offer, buzzing around your living room, tearing up your walls and having you duck for cover, to the more expansive sequences involving world threats or mass destruction (the attacks on the Kingsman), there's plenty of punch and precision in the surround activity, providing discrete dissemination of the effects but carrying the weight and full fury of the LFE channel. It's demo and reference through and through.
ExtrasA pretty healthy package of extras
Although it's no surprise to find that none of the extras have been ported over to the actual Ultra HD Blu-ray disc itself, once you've reluctantly swapped over discs you find a healthy package bolstered by a 9-part Documentary which covers pretty-much every aspect of the production and provides a 2 hour feature-length coverage rivaling the duration of the film itself, split into Distilling The Story: Kingsman Returns; Trafficker, Tailor, Southerner, Spy; Poppy's Special Guest: Elton John; Nefarious Lairs & High-Falutin' Headquarters; Suited and Booted; Weapons of Choice; Brothers in Arms; Doomsday Protocol: Visual Effects; and End Game. The disc is rounded off by a Featurette on the car chase sequence, Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase and an extensive Kingsman Archive gallery.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictA largely banal affair drowning you with charmless excess
The UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle delivers excellent video and outstanding audio, as well as a healthy selection of extra features, but it can't make up for what is an undoubtedly thoroughly disappointing follow-up (not wholly unlike that other distinctly sub-par Matthew Vaughn / Mark Millar sequel which, ironically in a reversal of the situation here, didn't involve Vaughn but did involve Millar, Kick-Ass 2). Fans should consider it an excellent release but those who are fans of the first movie should tread cautiously and, perhaps with tempered expectations, may find a modicum of enjoyment catching this down the line at some point
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