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Spies of Warsaw Blu-ray Review

spies-of-warsaw-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1  x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: UltraViolet
  • Run Time: 180 Mins.
  • Studio: BBC
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 16, 2013
  • List Price: $24.98

Overall
[Rating:2/5]
The Series
[Rating:2.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:1.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Series

[Rating:2.5/5]

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Adapted from the Alan Furst novel, Spies of Warsaw is the BBC’s two-part cloak-and-dagger series set in the years leading up to World War II. It features a very serious David Tennant (Doctor Who) playing French military attaché to the French embassy in Warsaw, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier. Mercier finds himself wrapped up in a world of intrigue, murder, and espionage in the backstreets and luxuriant parlors as everyone from Russians, Pols, and the French seek to find information on the Nazi plans. Mercier also finds time for romance with Anna (Janet Montgomery; Black Swan; Entourage) an attractive French attorney for the League of Nations. With everyone either a friend, a spy, or both, Warsaw is a dangerous place for Mercier.

Where Spies of Warsaw is beautifully shot with sleek imagery and lots of shadowy backdrops one would expect from a spy series, it also flops miserably as a cohesive and believable spy thriller. Unless one really wants to watch David Tennant run around three hours with a furrowed brow, there isn’t much beneath the surface in Spies of Warsaw other than than the glitz. The two-parter plays like a series of strung together set pieces, rather than one long story arc. Here’s Mercier following a suspected Nazi sympathizer, here’s Mercier being cold-cocked in a warehouse, now here he is making love to Anna on a train. I can’t say that I’ve had the pleasure of reading Mr. Furst’s novel, but I have to hope that it reads better than this series plays.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

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An original high definition production, Spies of Warsaw comes to Blu-ray with a solid 1080p/24 AVC encodement from the BBC. Detail is strong, contrast is good, and flesh tones are natural. The image does have some issues with crush in darker areas, but ultimately it doesn’t harm the overall detail extension too much.

Audio Quality

[Rating:1.5/5]

Spies-of-warsaw-BD_03

The sound is terribly off on this series. Provided in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) mix, it sounds as if it has been reprocessed from from a monaural source. Dialogue, rather than having the usual sound of being “weighted” to the center in a phantom channel, isntead drifts back and forth between the left and right and can be distinctly heard to be coming from both channels at once, rather than coming from the center. The sound effects are often boomy and artificial-sounding. Something is definitely awry here; perhaps this one got out without going through quality control?

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

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Only a brief featurette with David Tennant offering his thoughts on the series is included.

  • UltraViolet
  • David Tennant on Spies of Warsaw (1080i/60; 00:10:10)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:2/5]

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As a Doctor Who fan, I’ve always been a fan of David Tennant, even his work in the production of Hamlet. I have to say, however, that this is the first time I have been truly disappointed in something I’ve seen him in. Here, he hardly comes across as the charming spy, but, rather, a constipated action hero. Maybe it’s the direction and the bad interpretation of the source material. Whatever it may be, Spies of Warsaw, beyond its gorgeous set designs and cinematography, is hardly worth watching.

 

Additional Screen Captures

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[amazon-product]B00C70Y1MO[/amazon-product]

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Purchase Spies of Warsaw on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2/5]
The Series
[Rating:2.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:1.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

 

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