Quantum of Solace - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review
At the time of its original release, several years ago, Quantum of Solace was practically a benchmark Blu-ray in terms of its video and audio presentation, and even now it stands up as being a very impressive release, still not quite perfect, but not far off, and certainly one of the best-looking entries in the Bond 50 Box Set.
We get the same 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, providing us with a stellar rendition of the movie. Detail is stunning throughout, the picture simply popping with a three-dimensional quality, in spite of the grainy Bourne-camerawork that the visual style often adopts. From the opening close-ups of the roaring DBS right through to the cold-war-ish Bourne Supremacy-esque epilogue, every nuance is keenly observed and represented, skin detail, cuts, bruises and every bead of sweat is apparent, in all the right places. Intentional grain still takes the edge off the detail being perfect, but it is worth the price as we are left with a pretty gritty, oftentimes dark vision that is perfectly suited to the harder-edge Bond that the material is depicting. The palette looks largely good as well, delivering to us the multi-continental locations in all their glory, from the sun-baked blistering desert to the bronzed Haitian landscapes; from the luscious green Tuscan locales to the cold East European snow; colours come across vividly, even if not always wholly authentically (Tony Scott, RIP, has a lot to answer for with regard to the contagious of his trademark over-saturated style). Black levels are solid and allow for decent night sequences, although the majority of the shadowing has a sheen of that aforementioned grain. It really doesn’t get much better than this.
We also get the same soundtrack here as was offered on its original Blu-ray release, but it’s just as impressive – if not more so – than the video, an outstanding lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track that is still up there with the best of the best soundtracks even 6 years on. Although it’s kept to the bare minimum in this outing, the often mumbled dialogue still comes across clearly and coherently, largely emanating from the frontal array. Effects are of important note, right out of the gate as the Aston roars onto the screen in a ludicrously loud, stupidly enjoyable fashion. You cannot help but get swept along with the frequently explosive, relentlessly energetic chase proceedings that pretty-much swallow up the entire movie. Bond smashes and crashes his way across rooftops, guns his bike through cobbled streets, tears his car around quarries, speeds around in a wooden motorboat that’s so excessively powerful in terms of acoustics that – with your eyes shut – you could be forgiven for assuming that this was some kind of powerboat chase. Similarly we get a wonderfully over-the-top place chase sequence that has him dogfighting in a sluggish DC-3 as if it were as manoeuvrable as a Spitfire.
Although the fast cuts and frantic attention-deficit editing do the majority of the work, the constant noise and calamity helps heighten the tension no end. Gunshots are powerful and deafening, explosions resound around your living room, and this movie will definitely leave you shaken, particularly in the bass department. With his final Bond score contribution, David Arnold finally gets the mix right, providing a memorable near-classic-Bond accompaniment that has a nice John Barry feel to it, allowing the massive setpieces (particularly towards the end) a typically grand Bondian theme to them, whilst keeping the chases frantic and fast-paced by skilfully using frenetic beats. Capped with a reasonably good title duet by Alicia Keys and Jack White, this is one of the least controversial aspects about the movie, inviting very little criticism, and getting a simply perfect, demo quality representation here on its release as part of this Bond 50 Box set.
This new Bond 50 Box Set has come boasting all the extras-packed first 20 movies and then... failed miserably on the latest two. Casino Royale gets stripped down to its single-disc edition, and Quantum of Solace still hasn’t been upgraded since its dismal original release, which has just a half a dozen mini-Featurettes (each about 3 minutes in length), a selection of even shorter Behind the Scenes Crew Files, the title track Music Video and some Trailers.
It’s shocking that there’s still not Commentary, let alone a Picture-in-Picture track, but what is really gutting is the lack of the Alternate Ending which Bond fans have probably seen glimpses of on the net. Reportedly giving us a further look at what finally happened to Mr. White, as well as the traitor in the Government, I always assumed this was kept off the disc in case they chose to make another direct sequel for the Bond 23 movie. The strange thing is, even now that Skyfall has been released, they still haven’t chosen to include this footage. Perhaps it’s because Quantum has been so critically derided – they no longer wanted to bother with a double-dip because they figured there wasn’t as much interest – but it’s a shame we don’t get any further insight into this missing piece of the puzzle; a piece which will perhaps be lost forever.
“If they’d wanted his soul, they should have made a deal with a priest.”
Quantum of Solace is just the second half of one long story. Taken as a whole they work well to give us a bigger piece of the Bond reboot puzzle, however, whilst Craig’s Bond entries before and after – Casino Royale and Skyfall, respectively – worked perfectly fine as standalone entities, Quantum clearly does not; without its predecessor it is nothing more than just another post-Bourne spy actioner-thriller. Although it may be a quality production, further promoting Craig as the definitive Bond, it was a paltry offering considering it was all fans had to feed on over a long 6 years until Skyfall.
As part of the Bond 50 set, Quantum of Solace comes in exactly the same form as it did on its original Blu-ray release a few years ago. Unfortunately this is both good and bad news because, whilst the video and audio are still impressive and definitively demo-quality, the extras are still easily the worst of any of the titles in this set, which is a real shock when you consider that this is the most recent disc on offer. It’s a missed opportunity not to have upgraded or enhanced these extras, although it will probably go forgiven amidst the other 21 fantastic discs on offer.
Bond has been served well by a phenomenal box-set, timed to coincide with the arrival of Skyfall and the 50th Anniversary of the franchise. Quantum of Solace forms part of the set along with the other twenty-two films in the series, the majority of which look and sound terrific, and contain a wealth of extra material as well as a separate and new disc full of extra features further examining our favourite super-spy. It comes with the highest recommendation.
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