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Quantum of Solace (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 23, 2009 by  



“A suspenseful film with non-stop action, Daniel Craig continues to shine in his role as James Bond.  And as for the Blu-ray, it lives up to the quality standard set by ‘Casino Royale’ with a perfect score in both the video and audio category.  Simply a must own Blu-ray disc for Hi-Def audio and video enthusiasts.

Images courtesy of © 2008 Danjaq, LLC.  United Artists Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Quantum of Solace

DURATION: 106 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: AVC@28MBPS, Color, Widescreen 2:40:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, French, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

RATED: PG-13

COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: March 24, 2009

Directed by Marc Forster

Written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade

Produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

Executive Produced by Callum McDougall and Anthony Waye

Original Music by David Arnold

Director of Photography: Roberto Schaefer, ASC

Film Editing by Matt Chesse and Richard Pearson

Casting by Debbie McWilliams

Production Design by Dennis Gassner

Costume Designer: Louis Frogley

Cast:

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Olga Kurylenko as Camille

Judi Dench as M

Giancarlo Giannini as Rene Mathis

Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields

Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter

David Harbour as Gregg Beam

Jesper Christensen as Mr. White

Joaquin Cosio as General Medrano

Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene

Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in this thrilling, action-packed adventure which starts shortly after Casino Royale ends. Betrayed by the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. On a nonstop quest for justice that crisscrosses the globe, Bond meets the beautiful but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko), who leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a ruthless businessman and major force within the mysterious “Quantum” organization. When Bond uncovers a conspiracy to take control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, he must navigate a minefield of treachery, deception and murder to neutralize “Quantum” before it’s too late!

Non-stop action, Daniel Craig continues to shine in his roles as James Bond and for the Blu-ray, it lives up to standard set by ‘Casino Royale’ with a perfect 10 in both the video and audio category.  Simply a must own Blu-ray for Hi-Def audio and video enthusiasts!

The 22nd James Bond film and the sequel to the critically acclaimed hit “Casino Royale” (2006) is now out on Blu-ray.  With “Casino Royale” one of the highly hailed Blu-ray release with perfect video and audio quality, “Quantum of Solace” is a release that audio and videophiles will have high expectations for.  How well does the Blu-ray treatment of “Quantum of Solace” come when compared to its predecessor?  Read on!

“Casino Royale” left James Bond broken as his love Vesper Lynd betrays him but yet the two get back together only to get killed by an organization that Bond has been investigating.

“Quantum of Solace” continues right after “Casino Royale” as James Bond (Daniel Craig) seeks his revenge for the death of Vesper.

The film kicks off with a thrilling car chase taking place in Italy.   Bond has kidnapped Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), the middleman for the terrorist organization known as Quantum. And is pursued by gunmen.  Having succeeded in the car chase, Bond brings Mr. White back to the organization for interrogation by M.  White is amused that the UK government doesn’t know anything about Quantum and when he tells M that Quantum is everywhere,  M’s bodyguard (for five years) Mitchell attempts to shoot at M and Bond and a gun battle begins which gives Mr. White the opportunity to escape.

Bond then goes after Mitchell and then goes after Mitchell’s contact to get information on why someone has threatened to kill M.  Bond learns that Mitchell got the order from a man named Slate and then takes off to Haiti to confront him.  He eventually kills Slate and taking his briefcase.  Next thing you know, a woman is there to pick up Bond.  The woman is Camille Montes and learns that her boyfriend Dominic Greene (the owner of the Eco Organization known as Greene Planet) had tried to kill her.

Dominic Greene is no way a good-hearted businessman as he has been exploiting the poor by taking away their water and thus using the power to create business deals and gain leverage with countries and their high ranking military officers such as Bolivia’s General Medrano.

When Camille goes to meet with Greene, Greene shows his love for Camille by throwing her to the sharks by giving her to General Medrano, the man that killed Camille’s family and set her home on fire which gave her a burn scar on her back.  Camille has been motivated by revenge and is also a special agent who tries to take down General Medrano.  But while kidnapped, Bond comes up with a plan to save Camille.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

The collector’s edition of “Casino Royale” set the bar for many Blu-ray fans.  It achieved perfection in the audio and video category but how does “Quantum of Solace” rank against its predecessor?  It also achieves perfection.

“Quantum of Solace” is featured in AVC @ 28MBPS at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2:40:1.  If there is one thing to remember, Director Marc Forster and Director of Photography Roberto Schaeffer are a major duo.  Like Chris Doyle is to Wong Kar Wai, Forster and Schaeffer are just tremendous in their planning of locations and the shots they want to achieve.

With “Quantum of Solace”, from the shredded metal of the car chase scene, the blue skies and blue oceans in Haiti to the middle of nowhere in the Bolivian desert, you get a very colorful visual perspective and that is what the two have been achieving with their previous films such as “Stranger than Fiction” and “The Kite Runner”.   Picture quality is amazing and action scenes coming alive on your HD set is amazing, especially when balanced with the audio.

And for audio, “Quantum of Solace” also delivers.  The main English track is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and the revving of the car engines to the bullets being shot, metal piercing metal, you hear it from everywhere.  A perfect score on picture and audio quality. Expect your subwoofer to take a beating and your windows and even objects on the shelf to move, because “Quantum of Solace” is just amazing to listen to.

This is what audiophiles really want, a reference title that has audio that can match the perfection of picture quality and that is what you can expect from this release.  Both picture and audio quality achieve perfection.

The other audio tracks in Spanish, French and Portuguese are in 5.1 Dolby Digital.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

For the special features of “Quantum of Solace”, the following features are included:

  • “Another Way to Die” Music Video –  An interesting collaboration featuring White Sripes guitarist/singer Jack White and soul R&B artist Alicia Keyes.  An unlikely collaboration and a song that fans either loved or hated.  I bought it on iTunes when it first the single was first released, so suffice to say I enjoyed it.  The music video utilized the similar MK12 style like the opening credits of the film and showcasing Jack White playing drums, playing guitar and singing while Alicia Tunes is playing piano or singing.  A very stylish music video.
  • Bond on Location – A 24-minute special feature featuring interviews with Director Marc Forster, the producers and the talent in regards to this film.  If there was segment that caught my attention, it was when the crew would go into these inhospitable areas and sanitize it and give something back to the community.  For the Haiti sequence, the crew redid the plumbing in order to clean the place up and in essence, gave a much better plumbing system than what the people were used to having previously.  If anything, the people on the streets were supportive of the crew but it’s the diligence of the crew to get very difficult shots, which includes a sequence shot during a major event in Italy.  So, it was really interesting to see how many locations were in the film and the challenges the crew had to meet and eventually succeed.
  • Start of Shooting – A near three minute featurette with interviews with Forster, Craig and other talent of the expectations of this film and understanding the challenge that they face but excited of how the film is turning out to be.
  • On Location – A three minute featurette with interviews with Forster, talent and crew on the equipment used to film scenes like the airplane scene in Baja, Mexico and the Bolivian scenes in Panama.
  • Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase – A two minute featurette on Olga Kurylenko going through training on how to fight and even having to be part of the boat chase scene.  A scary moment for the actress who felt she was not up to par to do the scene but eventually did it and happy that she did.
  • Director Marc Forster – A three minute featurette with interviews with the talent and how it was for them to work with Director Marc Forster.
  • The Music – A near three minute featurette with an interview with composer David Arnold on composing the music for “Quantum of Solace” and then getting it prepped for the orchestra.  And also behind-the-scenes of the making of the theme song by Jack White and Alicia Keyes for “Another Way to Die”.
  • Crew Files Behind-the-Scenes Clips – There are a total of 34 crew files that were posted on the official website.  Each crew file features interviews with staff behind-the-scenes and can be played as one full 45-minute featurette or on their own.  Each crew file lasts around 1:45 seconds and actually gives you the full depth of behind-the-scenes coverage of the making of the film.  Included are on-set footage and interviews with:
  1. Introduction by Producer Michael G. Wilson
  2. James Grant, Location Manager – Panama City
  3. Ana Endara, Extras Casting -Panama
  4. Toby Hefferman, Second Assistant Director
  5. Roberto Schaeffer, Director of Photography
  6. Cliff Fleming, Pilot – Aerial Unit, Mexico
  7. Chris Munro, Production Sound Mixer
  8. Skip Evans, DC3 Pilot – Aerial Unit, Mexico
  9. Callum McDougall, Executive Producer
  10. Tim De Zeeuw, Director General, European Southern Observatory, Chile
  11. Guido Cebasuolo, Line Producer, Italy
  12. Naomi Donne, Make-Up/Hair – Bond Girls
  13. Pat Baily, Go-Camera Operator/Rigger
  14. Simon Crane, Additional Unit Director
  15. Jeanie Udall, Unit Nurse
  16. Michael Lerman, First Assistant Director
  17. Chris Lowe, Supervising Art Director
  18. Ben Cooke, Stuntman
  19. David Pountney, Artistic Director, Bregenz Festival
  20. Terry Bamber, Second Unit Production Manager
  21. Debbie McWilliams – Casting Director
  22. Dean Bailey, Driver – Ultimate Arm Camera
  23. Anatole Taubman, Actor
  24. Graham Kelly, Picture Vehicle Supervisor
  25. Chris Corbould, Set Supervisor
  26. Paul Engelen, Make Up Designer
  27. Eddy Joseph, Supervising Sound Editor
  28. Rick Pearson and Matt Chesse, Editors
  29. Ben Radatz and Tim Fisher, Title Shoot Directors
  30. Kevin Tod Haug, VFX Designer
  31. Alicia Keyes, Singer
  32. David Arnold, Composer
  33. Paul Brown, Music Video Director
  34. Producer Michael G. Wilson – Closing
  • Theatrical Trailers

With “Casino Royale”, there were two releases and the latter “Collector’s Edition” release would sport special features galore.    In fact, many of the special features in the previous collector’s edition release were around 24-minutes long, does “Quantum of Solace” achieve perfection in the special features category?  Despite the many listings of special features, lengthwise for many of them are around three minutes long.  So, unfortunately, special features-wise, it doesn’t achieve perfection but there are a good number of special features that will keep Bond fans busy for a few hours.

With the extreme success of “Casino Royale”, Daniel Craig and Director Marc Forster definitely had to face major pressure in making sure “Quantum of Solace” would also become a film that would stay in the mind of audiences and become a financial success.

“Casino Royale” was enjoyable at all levels.  Action, romance but a storyline that was intriguing and fresh, you couldn’t help but be excited for the sequel.  In fact, the collector’s edition of “Casino Royale” on Blu-ray is regarded as among the top releases to own and show off High Definition to your friends.  So, “Casino Royale” definitely set the bar.  The question is if they could followup the excitement with the sequel.

“Quantum of Solace”, the film now under Marc Forster’s (“The Kite Runner”, “Stranger than Fiction”, “Finding Neverland”, etc.) direction made me excited.  For one, Forster is good in bringing digital art like he had in “Stranger than Fiction” by bringing back MK12 to do the opening credits and also the computer technology in the film which was very cool to see.  But moreso that his film focuses primarily on storyline and character development.

And with Paul Haggis (“Letters from Iwo Jima”, “Flags of Our Fathers”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Crash”, etc.) and previous Bond film writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade writing the film, you definitely had high expectations for the film.

If one thing that I enjoy about Forster as a director is that he and Director of Photography, Roberto Schaeffer are an excellent duo.  They know what kind of shot to get and make things look good on screen.  With that being said, there is no doubt about the picture quality on this Blu-ray. It’s perfect.  The audio quality of the film and since it’s non-stop action, this is what audiophiles thrive on and “Quantum of Solace” delivers.

But what separates “Quantum of Solace” and “Casino Royale” is that the writers went a different direction with the sequel.  The film focuses more on non-stop action and unlike “Casino Royale”, not so much on the overall plot.  That is where “Casino Royale” shined.  The many layers given to the storyline and Daniel Craig’s character and to show the various complexities and to test everything about James Bond and put him in the worst situations as possible but to see him emerge from it.

“Quantum of Solace” has James Bond going the path of a Dark Knight’s Bruce Wayne.  A man who wants revenge, a stoic man who seems distant and cold and if anything, our minds stay fixated on the action and beautiful cinematography but by the end of the film, you feel that you missed out on those small intricacies of character development.  I felt no true chemistry between James Bond and Camille, whereas the staple of James Bond films is that Bond and major female lead (or multiple female) bond.  Camille is so emotionally tortured that she’s seeking out revenge that she spends more time kissing the film’s antagonist Dominic Greene.  So, that was a bit surprising.  And if we do get any bonding, it’s with Bond and HQ office girl Strawberry Fields which was a bit short of a short trist.

And when M restricts James Bond’s credit cards and privileges, you think if he’s going to go the Jason Bourne route or even show some urgency or emotion of what HQ is trying to do to limit his access.  You don’t feel any of that.  If anything, James Bond’s demeanor is the same, cold and stoic.

And because this film is a sequel, before watching “Quantum of Solace”, you may want to rewatch “Casino Royale” again to catchup on certain characters and what transpired because “Quantum of Solace” references quite a bit to “Casino Royale”.

With that being said, I still enjoyed the film.  As mentioned, Forster and Schaeffer are an excellent duo, so I expected beautiful imagery, awesome locations and the crew went all out in making sure the action sequences and the locations looked great on film.

As for the Blu-ray disc, “Quantum of Solace” scores nearly perfect on picture quality and audio quality.  Although, the special features seems aplenty, many are only two minutes long but still, you get the “Crew Files” that were video blogs from the Website and more.   This is going to be a release that High Definition fans are going to go crazy for.

Overall, “Quantum of Solace” is what one comes to expect from High Definition and like it’s predecessor, technically “Quantum of Solace” Blu-ray achieves perfection.






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