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Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray Disc review by Bill Hunt of The Digital Bits

Quantum of Solace (Blu-ray Disc)

Buy this Blu-ray now at Amazon!

Quantum of Solace
2008 (2009) - MGM (20th Century Fox)
Released on Blu-ray Disc on March 24th, 2009
Also available on DVD.


Film Rating: B+
Video (1-20): 18.5
Audio (1-20): 18.5
Extras: C+

All right... for those of you who haven't yet seen this film, know this right up front: Quantum of Solace isn't the NEXT James Bond film. It's the second half of the last one. Casino Royale and Quantum together tell a complete, self-contained narrative - effectively the origin story of this new incarnation of 007 - and you really have to consider the two films as one.

That's certainly led to some mixed reviews for Quantum. Some fans have complained because it's a departure from the more traditional stand-alone Bond adventure format, and critics bemoan the fact that there's not as much humor and style, and that there's too much action up front, and that the film is too short. Here's what I say to all that: NUTS!

Let me give you a bit of sage advice. The best thing you can do for yourself going into Quantum, is to re-watch Casino Royale first, preferably RIGHT beforehand. You'll be glad you did, because this movie picks up literally one hour after the last film ended, and there's no recap. You're thrust right smack into the middle of the action, going 100kph with lead flying, and you'd better be ready for it. 'Cause if you're not, you're gonna be left in the dust pretty quickly.

Keep in mind, Casino had more humor, and more romance, because it had to. Because it needed to, in order for you to care about Bond and to understand the measure his pain. Conversely, Quantum is all about redemption, and discovering the bigger picture, and about Bond coming to terms with his guilt and his pain in the traditional way. You know... by kicking ass. Bond wants the bad guys and he definitely wants revenge for Vesper's death, but even more than that he needs to know that what he felt for her - that what she felt for HIM - was real. When he's done, a formidable enemy will have begun to take shape, and 007 will be the man he needs to be for this franchise to continue kicking ass in the future. My opinion: This is a darned good Bond film. Hell, the Tosca sequence in this film alone is worth the price of admission. (It's a wonderful nod to Hitchcock too.)

The video and audio quality on MGM's new Blu-ray Disc edition is also quite good. Presented in full 1080p resolution (using the AVC codec), the transfer is crisp without being edgy, rendering excellent fine detail and texture. Contrast is more than sufficient, and colors are accurate to the theatrical presentation, if slightly muted by design. There's lovely film grain visible throughout the image, light to moderate depending on the scene, and there's very little compression artifacting to distract. It's not quite as good as the 2-disc Casino Blu-ray, but it's definitely on par with the first Casino BD release. The audio is also satisfying, presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. The mix offers excellent clarity in the dialogue and imaging, with a fairly wide front soundstage and lively rear channels, particularly once the action gets going. The atmospheric audio cues are engaging, and the film's score sounds terrific, with more than sufficient LFE.

This is a single-disc release, so you can almost guarantee that a 2-disc Collector's Edition will be made available eventually. That notion is reinforced by the fact that there's no director's commentary here, nor are deleted scenes available. Still, you do get about 90-minutes worth of bonus material - mostly featurettes - all presented in full (if somewhat compressed looking) HD. The most substantial of these is Bond on Location, which takes you behind-the-scenes and runs about 25 minutes. Additional featurettes include Start of Shooting, On Location, Olga Kurylenko and the Boat Chase, Director Marc Foster and The Music, each of which runs 3 minutes or less. There are also 34 mostly very short Crew Files featurettes, highlighting the work of many of the key personnel involved in making the film, which together run about 46 minutes. Finally, you get the Jack White/Alicia Keyes music video for the theme song, Another Way to Die, and both the film's teaser and theatrical trailers, again all in HD. Yeah, it's not much, but taken together I suppose it's adequate for the time being.

Rest assured, James Bond will return. Which is fine by me. I don't miss the old Bond formula one bit, and if I did, there's like 20 versions of it available for revisiting on my DVD shelf (at least 8 of which are now on Blu-ray as well, it's worth reminding you). This 007 is fresh, far more believable than the old... and absolutely thrilling. Daniel Craig confirms in Quantum that he's the best Bond since Connery. Given that there's sure to be a double-dip, you might want to rent this Blu-ray first, or at least buy it for a good sale price. In any case, the movie is definitely recommended.

Bill Hunt
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