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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Action > Espionage > Thriller > Terrorism > British > SPECTRE (2015/James Bond/Columbia/MGM/Fox Blu-ray)

SPECTRE (2015/James Bond/Columbia/MGM/Fox Blu-ray)

Picture: B Sound: A- Extras: C Film: B-

Daniel Craig has become the most commercially successful James Bond since Roger Moore and as critically praised as any, save for those who are not always happy with the so-serious take his four films so far have offered, but that is a reflection of the times. Still, Casino Royale and Skyfall are series classics, and I would argue Quantum Of Solace is a sometimes problematic, but underrated entry. Sam Mendes (for the first time since John Glen in the late 1980s) becomes the first Bond director in a while to make two films back top back. SPECTRE (2015) is the first time the evil mega-organization has appeared in the series since On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969 and the first time within the series (1971 or 1981, depending on your interpretations) since the head of that cartel has shown up (though both last appeared in the dated, somewhat underfunded 1983 Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again (1983), made outside of the series in Sean Connery's last appearance as Bond).

With the rights to both back, Skyfall the series biggest hit since Thunderball (in adjusted dollars, et al) and a new record high $300 Million budget (before tax breaks, versus $1 Million for the first Bond film Dr. No in 1962; that would be about $8 Million today), SPECTRE seemed to be on its way to be a massive, unstoppable hit, but then the real-life cyberleak and attack of distributor Sony happened and the worst part was the screenplay had been hacked! Not taking any chances and about to start filming, the Bond producers hired no less than three separate writers to rewrite the screenplay so no one would know what to expect. Unfortunately, this hurt the coherence of the final script used, but so much of this film works so well, it was still a huge worldwide hit and made its money back and then some.

With 'M' (Judi Dench) dead from the last mission, the new 'M' (Ralph Fiennes) is doing a great job taking over, but Bond has just caused an international incident that stopped a massive terrorist attack, but was still not supposed to be out of the country to begin with. The new 'M' is not pleased and further hates the timing as a new hotshot (Andrew Scott) is leading the charge to close the 007 as obsolete and replace it with highly questionable surveillance. A ring Bond grabbed from one of his adversaries in the opening attack leads him to uncover an organization deadlier than Quantum, SPECTRE (the initials of its acronym are never revealed or discussed in the film, but maybe next time) so Bond and the gang have to figure out what is going on.

Ben Whishaw is back as 'Q', as is Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Rory Kinnear as Tanner and we also get great casting in the stunning Lea Seydoux as a young woman who may be more connected to the violence than anyone realizes, the ever-amazing Monica Bellucci as a sexy older widow who definitely is, Christoph Waltz as a mysterious man with something to hide and Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy) as one of the series' most formidable henchmen in a while. After a break between Bonds, Mendes overcomes the hack crisis and keeps the film moving, the money is definitely on the screen in a real top-rate, high-class production that just keeps mowing over any issues as it's record screen time never gets boring and leads to a solid climax. Craig's still got it too.

After Skyfall and this film, Bond is back to full big budget form like nothing since Moore's biggest and best Bonds (The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and even Moonraker), making it a remarkable artistic and commercial return to form for what remains the most successful movie series of all time.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 24 MBPS digital High Definition image transfer has Bond returning to 35mm Kodak Vision 3 camera negative film stock, but it looks great throughout even when some of it is stylized by blowing out the image slightly and the like. Comparable to Skyfall or Quantum Of Solace, the look is very consistent and smooth throughout. Director of Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema, F.S.F., N.S.C., continues the dark, stylized look the series took on with Casino Royale without gutting the color in dumb ways. There are more than a few demo shots as well.

Though it was first reported the film may be issued in Dolby Atmos 11.1, Auro 11.1 and IMAX 11.1, this is still the first Bond release with more than 5.1 tracks. Thus, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix takes total advantage of the multi-channel possibilities, has an incredible soundfield and is so exceptionally recorded, mixed and mastered that it is now one of my favorite sonic demos for my home theater system to date. Though my theatrical screenings of the film were good, nothing prepared me for how amazing this would sound and it sets a new sonic standard for the series and all action films. As a matter of fact, I only expect the latest Star Wars to be able to outdo it when it hits Blu-ray. This sounds better than Skyfall (though that Blu-ray, unreviewed, could use a little sonic upgrading) and Quantum Of Solace, while older fans who liked the .1 LFE action of GoldenEye will love what the makers have pulled off here. I liked Sam Smith's main credits hit song ''The Writing's On The Wall'' enough as something different and matching the return to a little more humor for the film, but the title song originally intended for the film by the brilliant British band Radiohead (catch it online ASAP if you haven't heard it) I liked more and would have fit at least as well if the film had been as dark as Skyfall. Nice so much talent is still out there to make great, memorable music.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds a series of nice Video Blogs, a short high quality Photo Gallery and featurette SPECTRE: Bond's Biggest Opening Sequence. They could have offered more, but this is not bad. All the Bonds are now on Blu-ray and you can expect them all fir the new Ultra 4K Blu-ray format. In the meantime, here's are Blu-ray coverage of most of the films to date...

Dr. No/From Russia With Love/Goldfinger/Thunderball/Live & Let Die/Moonraker/For Your Eyes Only/The World Is Not Enough/Die Another Day/Quantum of Solace


The Man With The Golden Gun/Licence To Kill


Never Say Never Again w/Quantum of Solace


Casino Royale with a link to almost the whole series on DVD


- Nicholas Sheffo


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