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Action-packed and richly, character driven SKYFALL ($40) is one of the finest, if not the finest James Bond offering to appear in the character's half century cinematic career. In his third outing as James Bond, Daniel Craig has built upon his performance in the previous two films and continues to make the character truly his own. Craig has evolved Bond beyond a suave thug with a license to kill, making the character all too human, even if his profession requires him to be inhuman, and at times, superhuman. Making Craig's performance in SKYFALL even better is the fact that he is surrounded by a superb cast that he gets to play off of... not the least of which is the always sublime Judi Dench as Bond's superior M, Ralph Fiennes as government bureaucrat Gareth Mallory, Albert Finney as someone from Bond's long buried past, and the superb Javier Bardem as the most memorable Bone villain to come down the pike in some time- Raoul Silva.

SKYFALL opens with the typical action-packed Bond-sian pre-credit sequence, in which MI6 agent 007, aka James Bond (Daniel Craig), attempts to retrieve a hard drive containing the names of undercover operatives across Europe. Bond's mission fails; with the agent falling from a train into a river; Bond is washed over a waterfall and presumed dead. Three months pass, and M (Judi Dench) is left holding the bag in the aftermath of the mission's failure, and she is being forced towards retirement by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). While returning from her meeting with Mallory, M is sent a taunting message to coincide with an MI6 security breach; from the street, M then witnesses an explosion that devastates her agency's headquarters. Fortunately or unfortunately, the explosion at MI6 forces Bond out of his self-imposed retirement. Returning to London, Bond isn't quite up to snuff, but regardless, M places him on active duty and onto the trail of whoever was responsible for blowing up MI6 headquarters. The trail eventually leads to Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), whose motivations for taking out MI6 have less to do with the megalomania the afflicts most Bond villains, and more to do with a personal vendetta against the agency... and M herself. The cast of SKYFALL also features Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Rory Kinnear and Ben Whishaw as Q, MI6's new, amusingly baby-faced, quartermaster.

MGM Home Entertainment, through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, has made SKYFALL available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is nothing short of stunning. Shot digitally with Arri Alexa cameras, SKYFALL features a wonderfully crisp image, filled with tremendous detail and dimensionality. Cinematographer Roger Deakins magnificently sets different moods throughout the course of the film with light, color, shadow and density- all of which is perfectly represented though the digital cinematography and even more perfectly reproduced on Blu-ray. Bright colored sequences are fully saturated and reproduced without flaws. Flesh tones always look natural, regardless of the lighting scheme. Blacks appear totally inky, while the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast tends to be very smooth, even when the lighting pushes towards harshness. The elements from which SKYFALL has been mastered demonstrate virtually no imperfections. Being an all-digital production, there is no actual film grain, but there is a very tiny bit of noise in the image.

SKYFALL is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No question here, SKYFALL features a demonstration quality soundtrack. The sound design is highly aggressive throughout the film’s action and chase sequences. All of the discrete channels engage fully for sound effects placement, plus the sounds of gunfire, moving cars and the occasional train all zip around the sound field effortlessly. An even bigger plus for the film's sound design is how well the quieter moments are brought to life, all being fully engaging and sonically thrilling, albeit at a more subtle level. The bass channel adds all the percussive power and weight that the soundtrack requires. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is fantastic, producing the full-bodied musical component that benefits Thomas Newman's excellent score, as well as providing fully convincing sound effects. Dialogue is very natural sounding and always easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

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. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries; the first is with director Sam Mendes, while the second track is with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and production designer Dennis Gassner. Next up is Shooting Bond, which runs shy of an hour total and is composed fourteen individual programs: Intro, Opening Sequence, The Title Sequence, 007, Q, DB5, Women, Villains, Action, Locations, Music, End Sequence, M and The Future. Footage from the Skyfall Premiere, plus a Theatrical Trailer and a Soundtrack Promotional Spot closes out the standard supplements. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, plus a Digital Copy of the film. Also an authorization code is provided for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film, which is just a stream away.

SKYFALL is one of the best, if not the best James Bond adventure ever. The Blu-ray presentation is as good as the movie itself. Very highly recommended.


Skyfall (Blu-ray/ DVD + Digital Copy) (2012)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2013 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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