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Skyfall 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), English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1, French, Spanish, & Ukrainian Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian & Russian DTS 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, Danish, Estonian, French, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: UltraViolet & iTunes
  • Run Time: 143 Mins.
  • Studio: MGM
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 12, 2013
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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]

Given the troubled path to the screen Skyfall had taken to get there, people could be forgiven for being a bit skeptical about how good a film it was going to be. After the somewhat disappointing Quantum of Solace, which dropped the ball on the promise that the fantastic Casino Royale reboot gave us, Skyfall ran into trouble in the production stage. It wasn’t necessarily because of the film itself, but because the studio, MGM, found itself in financial problems. It also seemed an unusual choice to have Sam Mendes (American Beauty; Revolutionary Road) in the director’s chair. As it turns out, all of these concerns are quickly set aside once this film gets going. Mendes along with cinematographer Roger Deakins has crafted a classic, beautiful, globetrotting Bond adventure that follows through on the promise of Casino Royale by updating 007, bringing him into the new era, but still providing enough of the classic keys to keep fans satisfied.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) must arise from the dead after a mission gone wrong in which a crucial list of MI6 agents that leaves them vulnerable is stolen and he is mistakenly shot and thought killed in action. Now M (Judi Dench) is coming under fire by the government for the lapse in security, a new administrator, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) is vying for her job, and someone from her past, Silva (Javier Bardem) is trying to kill her. It comes down to none other than 007 to clear M’s name and hunt down the mysterious Silva before he can get to M. With the help of a new agent named Eve (Naomie Harris) and new quartermaster (Ben Whishaw), 007 sets himself to the task, still weakened from his gunshot wound and somewhat unsure of himself.

The film unfolds with a slow burn, but that’s not to say that this is a stagnant Bond film – not at all. The opening scene is one of the most exciting opening chase scenes in the Bond canon, and Mendes and Deakins give us just enough realistic gadgetry (no snowboarding over waterfalls and rocket-powered snow boots here) throughout, and visual stimulus to keep us enticed. One fight sequence takes place entirely in silhouette with a flashing LED billboard as the backdrop. It’s the characters that are really the driving force in Skyfall, ultimately. 007 is edgy here, starting out the film a Scotch-soaked shell of himself, clawing his way back to his former glory as a secret agent, still haunted by the demons of his past. The villain, Silva, is a classic 007 nemesis, scary, quirky, and relentless. Bardem plays this up to perfection, with just enough over-the-top drama to evoke some of the more classic villains of Bond films past, but not so much as to make it lapse into campiness. Meanwhile M, as portrayed by Judi Dench, finally gets a chance to come to the fore in this film, her seventh in the franchise. Dench proves her mettle as an actor, not that she needed to, and lends this film grounding and the heart it needs to keep it centered.

Skyfall may very will be one of the best films ever in this long-running spy franchise, Sean Connery films notwithstanding. It has glamour, action, technological wizardry, and effectively taps into the concerns of the modern era, solidifying Daniel Craig as one of the best 007s ever to slip into the role.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This 007 was shot in high definition on various Arri cameras and the Red Epic for aerial shots. The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement to Blu-ray is nearly flawless, with rich detail, crisp textures, nuanced shadow delineation and dark black levels without a hint of crush (check out all the detail in the stitching that can be made out on M’s black dress). That said, I say “nearly” flawless, because some digital anomalies can be spotted from time to time in darker areas, such as mild posterization and hints of harsh video noise. Still, given the overall quality, these hardly detract from the enjoyment and viewing pleasure.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) hits the right notes as well, providing wide dynamics, robust booms when the explosions and, dare I say, trains go a crashing, and ample heft and panning for the numerous gunshots. Dialogue is clear as a whistle as well, never dropping below the fray, while the memorable Bond theme music is nicely balanced into it all. High frequencies are airy and natural, no harshness or “tizziness”.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

We get not one, but two audio commentaries, an hour-long making of featurette with lots of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, a quick look at the film’s premiere at the Royal Albert Hall and promotional materials in the form of a theatrical trailer and promo spot for the soundtrack, This all adds up to a pretty good score for fans of Bond and extras.

The supplements:

  • DVD
  • UltraViolet and iTunes Digital Copy
  • Commentary by Director Sam Mendes
  • Commentary by Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner
  • Shooting Bond (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:59:24)
  • Skyfall Premiere (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:28) – At the Royal Albert Hall
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
  • Soundtrack Promotional Spot (1.78:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Fantastic action, glamorous cinematography, and strong character development make this 007 a true killer to be reckoned with. The Blu-ray release from MGM is a nearly flawless bit of home theatre entertainment. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]


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