Release Date(s)2015 (June 9, 2015)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: B-
It should be fairly obvious by now that director Matthew Vaughn is a fan of comic books written by Mark Millar. As many of you will know, Millar co-created the original “Kick-Ass” comic that Vaughn has adapted previously. Now, Vaughn is back again with another of Millar’s properties. This time around, however, he’s grafting on different elements to make the project more his own.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of my favorite movie-going experiences of the year. When I first started seeing publicity for the film, I knew I had to go out and support it. I hadn’t really heard much about it until then, and it didn’t seem like anything else that was coming out. The film looked different, as if it had some intelligence and heart put into it. Thankfully, I was right on the money with that assumption.
What you won’t find in Kingsman: The Secret Service is high art or anything that elevates filmmaking to a new level. Nor is it the kind of movie that’s out to win a string of awards. Its only goal is to entertain in a more clever, comic-book kind of way. Fortunately, there’s plenty of honest character development to let you know who stands where and also to make the film more relatable. Kingsman is not about superheroes fighting giant robots or shit blowing up in the sky in massive CGI-laden quantities. Instead, it’s about a group of characters operating within a well-realized world – a world (without getting into spoiler territory) with some consequences.
Kingsman features quite a strong cast, including Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, and newcomer Taron Egerton in the lead role. There’s even a small part played by Mark Hamill, which is itself a reference that only fans of the original comic books will get. The movie walks a fine line with its overall tone, but manages to do so without going completely overboard in many different directions, and without aiming strictly for the lowest common denominator. Such decisions served the film well with movie goers. As a matter of fact, I was surprised by the amount of box office that it eventually raked in. It wasn’t Jurassic World kind of business, but the film did manage to make its money back plus a little more.
While it’s not perfect, Kingsman still manages to be more playful and fun than most movies of its ilk. It’s fairly straightforward, with only a few bumps in the road here and there (including the controversial James Bond gag at the end of the film – which didn’t bother me by the way). To be more succinct, it’s a highly enjoyable movie that I plan to see many more times. Call it a guilty pleasure, if you will.
The presentation of Kingsman: The Secret Service on Blu-ray is virtually flawless. Shot with a variety of different camera sources, the final product manages to deliver a blazingly sharp presentation. Fine detail in all aspects of the frame is quite dense, including foreground, background, and shadow details. The film has been aggressively graded in certain scenes for effect and, as such, there’s a wide-ranging and dazzling color palette on display. Black levels are incredibly deep and contrast, while not perfectly even from scene to scene (again, for effect), is quite satisfying. While some of the CGI sections do appear slightly softer than the rest of the visual elements, I don’t count that as a negative of the HD presentation – it’s inherent in the final film. There’s also no evidence of sharpening, edge-enhancement, or any other knee-jerk digital modifications.
Although this is promoted as a Region A release, it’s actually Region Free, so there’s a wide variety of various audio and subtitle options. The prominent selections for the audio include English 7.1 DTS-HD, English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, and both Spanish & French 5.1 Dolby Digital. The audio portion is just as impressive as the video. Featuring terrific surround activity and window-rattling bass, the 7.1 track is a terrific mix. Dialogue is always clean and clear, and both sound effects and score have an abundance of weight and are mixed into the proceedings flawlessly. Suffice it to say, there’s plenty of dynamic range to be both heard and felt. It’s an amazing presentation that recreates the theatrical experience perfectly. Again, the subtitle options are varied, but you’ll find English SDH and Spanish as the two primary options.
For the extras selection on the Blu-ray, there’s a decent amount of material to cull through, the bulk of which consists of a set of featurettes on different aspects of the film. These play together more as a single documentary, under the heading of Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed. Included are Panel to Screen: The Education of a 21st Century Super-Spy, Heroes and Rogues, Style All His Own, Tools of the Trade, Breathtakingly Brutal, and Culture Clash: The Comic Book Origins of the Secret Service. The remainder of the extras includes a set of three still galleries (Behind the Scenes, Sets, and Props), the film’s original theatrical trailer, a set of sneak peeks, and a paper insert with a code for a Digital HD copy of the movie.
One can only hope that Kingsman: The Secret Service gets a sequel or two down the road. (Matthew Vaughn is reportedly in the process of writing one.) Until then, this Blu-ray release will have to suffice, and suffice it does. Kingsman is a ridiculously entertaining movie that’s been given a top-notch BD presentation and some good extras. Do check it out, if you haven’t already.
- Tim Salmons