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Kingsman: The Secret Service (Blu-ray Review)

kingsman-secret-service-blu-ray-cover-16The Spy Who Loved Me is one of my favorite James Bond movies.  It is easily the best of the Roger Moore entries, but also a fine example of how strong the more cinematically over-the-top versions of the world famous British spy can be.  Kingsman: The Secret Service essentially functions as one of the more outlandish James Bond entries, albeit made up of different characters and stemming from a graphic novel world, with a style and tone fitting of the millennial age.  Director Matthew Vaughn, along with his screenwriting partner Jane Goldman, clearly had fun developing and filming the sort of R-rated madness taking place in this self-aware action-comedy, but it also has some of the dry British humor and sensibilities that make it more than just a new take on the ‘spy spoof’ for regular movie goers and a series of in-jokes for the filmmakers and movie geeks invested in the entertaining work of filmmakers like Vaughn.

Film:

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In this film, there are only a handful of key performances, but each actor really brings there all to what is required of them in ways that set them apart from past performances.  The utterly charming Colin Firth is Harry Hart, a secret agent who can handle himself in a fight quite easily.  Usually quite villainous, Mark Strong is now Merlin, a tech expert, with his mind set on keeping the world safe.  Michael Caine is actually more or less a familiar Caine-type character, but he is the leader of this group of secret agents, known as the Kingsmen.  And then you have the villain of the film, Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine, a billionaire computer tycoon with a lisp, who has the kind of plans that would have any Bond villain anxious to invite him into their secret volcano lair.  For protection, of course, Valentine has a bodyguard/assistant, Gazelle (hip-hop/street dancer Sofia Boutella), who has artificial legs fitted with deadly blades.

These are all important people to keep track of, but ‘Kingsman’ is really more of an origin story for Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton).  It is easy enough to say Eggsy is the way to invite the audience into the world of the Kingsmen, with the film itself essentially having the structure of Men in Black, with the coating of a James Bond film, all thrown into a Kick Ass blender, but what it may lack in truly original plotting, it more than makes up for in its presentation and attitude.  There is plenty of praise I can give to the kinetic visual style and impressively-staged action that Matthew Vaughn has successful developed over the years (he’s also responsible for Stardust and X-Men: First Class), but a lot of the weight of this film really sits upon Egerton’s shoulders, who is more than capable of handling it.

It will be easy to single out Colin Firth’s character, as he gets a lot of great dialogue and scenes to act in, along with a standout action sequence at the end of the second act, which is simply tremendous, but Egerton’s Eggsy is who we are ultimately rooting for.  From what I saw here, this kid has talent, charisma, and a great career ahead of him, if he plays his cards right.  The way he works with the other seasoned actors is impressive, his physicality and comic timing are totally appropriate, and most importantly, he is not just the bland hero character we are forced to follow along with.  There are a lot of wild characters in this film and Eggsy is fortunately not just the one to take the audience to them; he gets in on the fun as well.

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As for the rest of the film, if the plot is what you need to be sold on, well it involves a bunch of secret spies trying to stop a madman from destroying the world; there, I said it.  Moving on, we also have to contend with Eggsy doing what he can to become one of the new Kingsmen agents, but that is really more of a way to show us how cool (and very decidedly British) the Kingsmen are.  They wear great suits, exhibit wonderful manners, and have badass spy equipment that is both effective and suitably stylish.  Umbrellas can help Kingsmen stay dry and protect them from a hail of gunfire.  Glasses can be used to see embedded codes and holograms of people communicating with one another.  It is fancy stuff and I can only imagine the Kingsmen Edition Aston Martin is being saved for the sequel, Quantum of Kingsman or Kingsman Are Forever.

The film is based on a graphic novel developed by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.  Vaughn previously adapted Millar and Gibbons’ Kick Ass and what I like about his adaptation, which proved even more effective with this film, is how Vaughn tones down the extremes that Millar tends to go too far with.  Where Millar is not one to understand the word “enough,” Vaughn is the one who knows how to rein things in and respect what works better cinematically.  Kingsman: The Secret Service may still be a bit overlong, be a little to on the nose with the references, and go a little too far with at least one of its jokes (I am thinking of a sexual one towards the end), but it also does fine in giving proper motivation for its characters, treating the narrative with respect, and, best of all, being consistently fun and engaging.

Thoroughly violent and fairly crude in spots, but also smart, funny, and inventive, Kingsman: The Secret Service takes the familiar concept of updating the spy genre in a slick and humorous fashion, by approaching it with a level of energy that is unique to director Matthew Vaughn.  This may or may not be Vaughn’s best film yet, but it does speak very well to what he is great at doing, which is crafting witty scripts and exciting action that is punctuated by his hyper-stylized sensibilities.  There is a very fun movie to see here, as it takes the classic spy adventure and goes totally crazy with it.

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Kingsman arrives on Blu-ray looking pretty fantastic. Matthew Vaughn’s kinetic visual style is perfect for this digital age, with lots of great contrast work and varied locations making for a fine looking transfer full of details. Things become a bit more noticeable when it comes to the special effects, given the modest budget of the feature, but nothing that does not reflect the clarity of the visuals seen here.

Depth: Given the strength of the visuals in this film, it is of no surprise that the film has a nice level of dimensionality to best communicate how well the action plays in this film.

Black Levels: Black levels come through quite strong. No signs of crush and the scenes that take place during nighttime actually look really good in particular.

Color Reproduction: There is a variety of color on display in this film, with some more notable elements to point out. With that in mind, the colors really pop here, which means a great deal for those looking to enjoy how wildly enjoyable this aspect of the film is.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are all quite strong, nothing to remark upon in a negative manner, as the details are all there.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish/French Digital Dolby 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: If you couldn’t already tell just by seeing that a lossless 7.1 track exists, be aware that the sound on this Blu-ray is phenomenal. Great job done with the sound design and music all around, which reflects greatly on this Blu-ray.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel gets a great workout, which is great for a film with plenty of action and music to allow for so much presence in the bass and thuds of it all.

Surround Sound Presentation: A wonderful balance job has been done for this film, which reflects well upon the way sound is mixed here. Everything is heard well across the appropriate channels, which best adds to all that this film has to offer.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is heard clearly.

 

Extras:

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Given how willing Vaughn has been in the past to contribute a commentary track to his films, it is disappointing to not have one for a film like this, which is much more of a personal project than X-Men: First Class was. Still, a 90-minute look behind the scenes is worth it.

Features Include:

  • Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed (HD, 1:32:00) – A six-part look at the making of the film, which provides plenty of information about the film, its origins, the cast, and more. The segments for this making-of includes:
    • Panel to Screen: The Education of a 21st Century Super-Spy
    • Heroes and Rogues
    • Style All His Own
    • Tools of the Trade
    • Breathtakingly Brutal
    • Culture Clash: The Comic Book Origins of The Secret Service
  • Galleries (HD, 10:00) – A few more brief looks behind the scenes.
  • Trailers
  • UltraViolet and iTunes Digital Copy of the Film

Summary:

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Kingsman: The Secret Service was a blast of fun from early 2015. Matthew Vaughn continues to bring a lot of fun to the various comic book worlds he dives into, with plenty of praise also going to the cast he managed to wrangle this time out as well. The Blu-ray is pretty terrific. The visuals and especially the audio is stellar. There is enough bonus material to satisfy as well. All in all, this is a pretty great package.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “Kingsman: The Secret Service (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Great film and review here. I picked this up yesterday.