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THE KINGDOM ($30) is a tight, highly entertaining action thriller/police procedural that pushes all the right genre related buttons. Set inside The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the premise of THE KINGDOM is fairly straightforward; terrorists set off a bomb killing the numerous American citizens, who reside inside their oil company's housing compound. To gain access to the American compound the terrorists impersonated members of the Saudi State Police and were even able to hijack one of the police vehicles to further enable their infiltration of the compound. After some political arm-twisting, FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) is able to secure some level of access for him and his forensics team to enter The Kingdom and begin an investigation.

At first, Fleury and his teammembers Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), Leavitt (Jason Bateman) and Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper) find their access to evidence extremely limited by General Al Abdulmalik (Mahmoud Said). However, Fleury is able to convince a Saudi Prince to put Colonel Faris al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom) of the Saudi State Police in charge of the investigation, which results in his team actually being able to investigate the crime scene and handle the evidence. Of course, once the FBI team are on the trail of those responsible for the terrorist bombing, they come under attack and THE KINGDOM switches gears from police procedural to action thriller- becoming awash in car chases, gunfire and explosions. The cast of THE KINGDOM also features Jeremy Piven, Richard Jenkins, Tim McGraw, Kyle Chandler and Frances Fisher.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE KINGDOM available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Utterly superb is the best way to describe the 1080p presentation. The image is wonderfully sharp, highly dimensional and almost always maintains a very film-like appearance. Some nighttime, second unit shots have a digital quality, but otherwise, it all looks outstanding. Fine details, such as individual hairs and imperfections in the actors’ skin, are truly excellent. Colors can appear a little bleached out by the sun, but usually come across as very natural. Blacks are deep and whites are completely stable. Things appear slightly contrasty due to the intense sunlit conditions, but things never become blown out. Shadow detail gets top marks. A fine film grain is present and maintains an organic quality for the presentation.

THE KINGDOM is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a pretty terrific soundtrack. Whenever THE KINGDOM enters action movie territory, the sound design becomes quite aggressive. All of the discrete channels engage fully for sound effects placement, plus the effects such as weapons fire zip around the sound field effortlessly. Fidelity is pretty marvelous, producing a rich quality for musical, as well as believable special effects. The bass channel track adds plenty of percussion and rumble. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Director Peter Berg is on hand to provide a running Audio Commentary. Featurettes include the following programs: Creating The Kingdom (thirty-five minutes), and Constructing The Freeway Sequence (eighteen minutes). Deleted Scenes and an interactive History Of The Kingdom Timeline fill out the standard supplements.

Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player). From U-Control one can access the following: a picture-in-picture Video Commentary, The Mission Dossier, The Mission Dossier: Surveillance and Character by Character: The Apartment Shootout.

THE KINGDOM is a highly entertaining action thriller blended with elements of a police procedural. The Blu-ray presentation is uniformly excellent. Recommended.



The Kingdom [Blu-ray] (2007)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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