Kick Ass Spies
Kingsman Film Review
Brit director Matthew Vaughn continues his run of comic book adaptations with Kingsman, producing a witty, stylish, action-packed, bloody and unquestionably fun comic book experience for adults.After his refreshingly no-holds barred interpretation of acclaimed graphic novelist Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass, Vaughn returns to Millar’s dirty and uncompromising world of comic book anti-heroes. Blending thoroughly satisfying violence with self-aware pop culture wit, Kingsman is everything you’d expect from another Vaughn/Millar combo. It’s stylish but raw, surprisingly brutal but quintessentially British. Indeed, in many respects, it does for super-spies what Kick-Ass did for super-heroes – taking them apart, cliché by cliché, but celebrating every single anachronism along the way. Guns, gadgets and girls; scheming megalomaniac villains, deadly unstoppable assassins and disposable henchmen – Kingsman wears its heritage proudly on its sleeve, with Colin Firth’s superspy lead Harry Hart not only named after James Bond’s myopic genre-cousin, Harry Palmer, but also directly reporting to a man played by Palmer himself, Michael Caine.Of course, his dress-sense and style smacks more of The Avengers’ Steed, and Firth stirs all these icons into a wonderful melting pot that often feels like a role he was born to play but never got the chance. Fans of Millar will draw numerous parallels with plenty of his other works – from Wanted to Kick Ass – they all involve heroes in the least expected places, trained against the odds to become part of secretive groups and fight evil in one guise or another; they all trade in the tropes of familiar well-trodden genres, but fashionably rework them for a new generation, with a strong self-awareness that makes them as witty as they are action-packed. Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And action-packed this is, with some of the best-staged action sequences in quite some time, which will likely prove as memorably brutal as they are smile-on-your-face satisfying. Vaughn and Millar certainly know how to make comic book movies for adults.
Blu-ray Picture QualityKingsman hits UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with the same largely spectacular 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation – framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen – that adorns the US disc released almost simultaneously. Detail is excellent throughout the piece, with the clarity and vibrant, colourful comic-book stylised palette lending itself well towards eye-popping scenery and standout reference sequences.
Colourfully comic-book stylised, Kingsmen excels in HD.
With precision close-ups and finely nuanced broader strokes, textures are pleasing and intricacies are well observed, and there are almost no signs of digital defects – banding is almost non-existent and perhaps the only slightly incongruous element involves some rather cheap-looking head-popping firework effects. Black levels are strong, and the aforementioned colour scheme is rich and vibrant and, overall, this is an utterly demo-worth presentation which is not far off being reference perfection.
Blu-ray Sound QualityKingsman’s accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack – again matching up to the US counterpart – is unquestionably excellent, prepped for a demo experience, with some well-placed song tracks setting the bar both in terms of the tone of the movie and the strength of the track too.
Popping with strong score, engaging song tracks, punchy effects and heady bass, this is reference standard through and through.
Dialogue remains well-prioritised, dominating the frontal array where necessary, and remaining clear and coherent throughout the piece. Effects are nuanced and often firearms or explosive-based, bringing with them not only some exceptional surround separation, but also some LFE heft. The score isn’t quite as memorable as, say, that of Kick Ass – and certainly shares some similar tonal flourishes – but it more than gets the job done, and oftentimes sounds fantastic.
Blu-ray ExtrasOn first glance, Kingsman doesn't appear to have a great deal to offer on the extras front: just a single main feature - Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed - as well as some Image Galleries. However it turns out that that main feature is actually a comprehensive feature-length 6-part documentary covering just about everything you want to know about the movie. Split into Panel to Screen: The Education of a 21st Century Super-Spy; Heroes and Rogues; Style All His Own; Tools of the Trade; Breathtakingly Brutal; Culture Clash: The Comic Book Origins of the Secret Service, it's an impressive offering which almost makes up for the lack of a commentary.
Kingsman Blu-ray VerdictA refreshingly original mish-mash of a hundred classic spy-action-thriller ingredients, put through Millar’s cynical, irreverent blender and served up courtesy of uber-stylish chef Vaughn. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a whole lot of fun.
Vaughn and Millar certainly know how to make comic book movies for adults.
This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release boasts excellent video and reference audio as well as a comprehensive multi-part feature-length documentary, which rounds out an unmissable release for fans of the film. And if you haven't seen it but like the other films based on Millar's work - Kick-Ass and Wanted - this is a blind buy.
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