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Argo Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French (Quebecois), Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: UltraViolet
  • Run Time: 120 Mins.
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 19, 2013
  • List Price: $35.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Ben Affleck (The Town; The Company Men; Reindeer Games; Good Will Hunting) takes up the directorial reins in this docudrama that has been getting big buzz in Hollywood circles. Based on the real events surrounding a once classified joint CIA and Canadian mission to get six American diplomatic refugees out of revolutionary Iran and back to the States, Argo is intensely interesting, riveting drama even when one already knows the ultimate outcome.

The film takes its name from the fake Hollywood film that serves as the deception at the crux of the film. CIA agent Tony Mendez (Affleck) is called in to devise a plan to help six diplomatic employees from the American embassy in Iran who managed to escape to the Canadian ambassador’s home flee the country. His plan —  a cover involving a Star Wars rip-off film named Argo, a Canadian film crew, and a fake production company. He calls in a favor with one Hollywood contact, makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman; Trouble with the Curve; The Artist; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) who brings in big shot Hollywood producer Lester Siegal (Alan Arkin; The Muppets; Grosse Pointe Blank; The Rocketeer). It’s an elaborate scheme that the suits in the CIA aren’t enamored with, but given their options, they reluctantly sign off on it. With the Iranian revolutionaries closing in on them, Mendez must pull off the ruse of his lifetime to sneak the American refugees out right through the airport.

The film is a fantastic look back at one of the most harrowing times in U.S. history. Affleck, whom I have never been very fond of as an actor, shines here in both his role as Mendez and as a director. He shows a keen eye for period detail, scattering about lots of little things – Star Wars toys, a focus on Telex communiqués – that add to the believability. The use of well-placed stock news broadcasts is also a great strength in Argo. Viewing a young Tom Brokaw updating us on the Iranian revolutionaries and status of the hostages as the clock for the “Houseguests” as the six here were called, heightens the intensity.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This film was shot on a variety of film stocks ranging from 8mm to 35mm and in HD, and also incorporates stock broadcast footage from the era. It arrives on Blu-ray with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement that looks rather good given the caveats listed above. There was obvious artistic effort made to give Argo that “’70s” look in its color palette, meaning not too over-saturated or heavy with contrast, more a pallid, realistic look. Detail is mostly good, although there is some obvious softening from time to time depending on stocks being used and lighting. Black levels aren’t quite inky, but shadow delineation is strong as a consequence. There’s nothing to find too much fault with in the overall technical presentation here.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

A mostly dialogue-driven film, Argo‘s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is nevertheless very effective at engulfing you in the chaos of revolutionary Iran and the din of the CIA offices with strong ambient effects panned through the surround channels. Furthermore, dialogue in the front center is quite clear, and the various snippets of ’70’s rock and roll that are on the soundtrack have good punch and dynamics.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

This is an unusually exceptional collection of extras for a blockbuster film, which is an unfortunate thing to have to say, but true nonetheless. We get a great picture-in-picture “eyewitness account” feature plus a 45-minute documentary on the entire operation, in addition to a commentary and other featurettes:

  • DVD
  • UltraViolet Digital Copy
  • Feature Length Picture in Picture: Eyewitness Account
  • Commentary by director Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio
  • Short Feature: Rescued from Tehran: We were There (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:16:51) – President Jimmy Carter, Tony Mendez, and the actual houseguests recount the real-life harrowing experience they endured.
  • Short Feature: Argo: The CIA and Hollywood Connection (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:06:05) – Director Ben Affleck and former CIA agent Tony Mendez give a firsthand view of the actual documents and cover story used to create the phony movie Argo that had all of Hollywood believing.
  • Documentary: Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option (1.33:1; SD; 00:46:34) – Escape from Iran commemorates the 25th anniversary of the “Canadian Caper,” taking us back to this startling affair through the direct testimony of the Americans who found sanctuary at the Canadian embassy in Tehran and the Canadians who risked their own safety to shelter their closest neighbors.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Worthy of all the accolades it has garnered, Argo is a fantastic docudrama and thriller based on true events. A lot of films based on true events never really fulfill the promise of offering great entertainment and deeper understanding of the situation, Argo delivers on all counts. Affleck puts in one of finest jobs as an actor and does a superb job behind the camera.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
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Purchase Argo on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]


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