Bridge Of Spies (Blu-ray Review)

Bridge-Of-SpiesDisney and Dreamworks invite you to take a step back into an era of espionage and Cold War. Steven Spielberg directs a dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, Bridge of Spies tells the story of James Donovan (Tom Hanks), a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on a near impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. Bring home this high stakes  suspense story on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and Digital HD February 2, 2016.


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Film Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1

A dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, Bridge of Spies tells the story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on a near impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. High stakes and suspense power a story inspired by true events that capture the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life.

2015, as I’ve noted, “The Year Of The Spy”, brought us many a take on the old 1960s Spy movie formula.  You probably know the five other movies I’m talking about.  The more spy fantasy adventures.  But, Bridge of Spies has its place in the mix too.  With a true to life encounter, going for the realistic approach.  And to boot, this was actually done back in the day when James Bond had his fourth (and most fantastical, for the time) adventure, Thunderball.  That year saw the release of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, which is more closely the film Bridge of Spies represents.  Another interesting nugget to tack on to “The Year of the Spy”.

To lay it out bluntly, there’s no way this movie was going to suck.  Its written by the Coen Bros and directed by Steven Spielberg.  Chances are slim that this movie was going to fail.  To wit, I thought Spielberg’s approach to the look of the film resembled the Coen Bros’ films more than it does his very own.  Look at Inside Llewyn Davis and Bridge of Spies and you may think the same collective directed or at the very least shot the film.  And I think it goes more beyond the wintery settings of both.  This is a terrific collaboration that I wouldn’t mind seeing again one day as long as it doesn’t keep the Coens from directing a film.

Spielerg’s film is a journey through discovering friendship, equality, politics, negotiations, family…its got many angles.  Its also pretty suspenseful too.  I must say, the opening to the film is so damn engaging, I’m shocked if anyone wasn’t immediately pulled in.  Top that with another great Tom hanks performance and you’re set.  I wish there was more Amy Ryan or a juicier role for her, but if that’s the character’s impact on the story, I don’t want them to force stuff in and make stuff up “just cause”.  This film also puts Hanks in some foreign and questionable situations that might not have you quite biting your nails, but you might glance at your cuticles for a moment to think about it.

I’m really glad Bridge of Spies is up for Best Picture, but its kinda disappointing that its not up for even more awards than it is.  However, the competition this year is pretty damn good.   Personally, I enjoyed this movie a hell of a lot and even watched it twice over the past weekend in preparation to write this review.  It just really kicks off and starts running.  For a film set in a more procedural atmosphere, it really does move and have all the suspense of a true spy movie, but with less stunts, gadgets and the like.

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Video Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  A Spielberg film done by Disney on Blu-ray.  Expect no less than perfection.  And that is exactly what you get here.  This film looks rather lovely here on Blu-ray, its aesthetic actually looking very similar to a Coen Bros film, too.  Detail is ever abundant and its soft nature is warming and romantically display in this superb transfer.

Depth:  Movements are cinematic.  Background imagery is as clear and discernible as the focus will allow.  Spacing is free and good between object/person and environment.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and inky.  The shadowing on this film is tremendous.  Not a bit of a crush and hidden detail is at the barest of minimums.

Color Reproduction:  This one maintains a colder look with darker blues, black and grays.  But don’t let that stop lavish reds from showcasing themselves.  Whites are very impressive too.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are on the colder side of the equation and consistent.  Every facial wrinkle, stubble, blemish as well as make-up and lip texture shine through at any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Not a flaw.

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Audio Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1

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

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  The 7.1 track seems a little excessive, but they make fair use of the advantage.  The film’s environments all give a good feel for them and the time period they take place in.  Foley effects are perfectly set to volume and effect and sound well rounding.  Dialogue comes in perfectly as they weave a good balance of the score and sound effects in as well.

Low Frequency Extension:  Some gun fun, engine hums and doors shutting prove to me the most constant users of the subwoofer, but its also effective in some smaller areas as well.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Front channels pull the key task of brilliantly tracking the action and placing the effects in the mix.  The rear/side speakers provide a lot of ambiance and scoring, but also get some moments to shine as well.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is key here and its displayed perfectly with great clarity, crispness and audibility throughout.

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0

Bridge of Spies comes with a DVD copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

A Case Of The Cold War: Bridge of Spies (HD, 17:45) – A cast and crew overview of the era which the film took place, personal connections, inspirations for the screenplay and the story’s relevance to modern times.  Its a terrific little piece that covers both film and history.

Berlin 1961: Re-Creating The Divide (HD, 11:45) – The cast and crew talk the history of the Berlin Wall.

U-2 Spy Plane (HD, 8:45) – Cast and crew discuss the aircraft that is focused on in the film.

Spy Swap: Looking Back On The Final Act (HD, 5:42) – A look at the real life exchange that happens during the film’s final act.

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

Bridge Of Spies is outstanding.  I heard a lot of people call this “average Spielberg”…well…okay, but this movie is still outstanding.  In the year of the spy, we got things from many different aspects, mostly those of fantasy.  But, its great to have one stand that’s true-to-life that STILL manages to provide thrills, drama and suspense like this one did.  This Blu-ray perfectly brings a great image and sound quality home as well as a nice handful of very useful, educational extras to take the experience beyond the film and mean something.  Here’s a release everyone should be picking up come new release Tuesday!



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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