Plot: What’s it about?
Bond, James Bo—wait. Wrong movie. You know, there are so many different approaches to this opening paragraph that, as I write this, I really haven’t decided which direction to go. On one hand I could comment on Samuel L. Jackson appearing his 1000th Hollywood feature. I could talk about Best Actor winner Colin Firth now marketed as an action* star. I could talk about spy movies in general or the unexpected critical and commercial success of this movie. Hmmm, decisions…You know what? I’m going in a different direction. Yep. I’m going to focus on Director Matthew Vaughn. I bet you didn’t expect that, did you? But as I look through Vaughn’s films as director (this is only his fifth) I find that I really have enjoyed them. X-Men: First Class ranks as my favorite X-Men film (due, in no small part, to January Jones strutting her stuff as the White Queen), I enjoyed Kick-Ass and yes even Stardust and Layer Cake had their moments. Clearly Vaughn is in his element with the sci-fi/comic book stuff and I’m fine with that. Play to your strengths. So when I saw an umbrella-wielding Colin Firth starring in Kingsman: The Secret Service (a comic book I’d heard about) my interest was piqued. Right then, (said in an English accent) let us get underway, shall we?
Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (played by Alex Nikolov as a child and Taron Egerton as an adult) has had somewhat of a rough life. Living in the poor section of London, his mother (Samantha Womack) is a victim of domestic abuse and his father is deceased (we see this in the opening scene). As Eggsy grows up, he’s no stranger to breaking the law. But after calling in a favor via a medal he received, he learns that he’s meant for greater things. Eggsy is now a part of an elite group known as the Kingsman and all he has to do is pass the training course. There is a method to this madness, though, as the mission (should they choose to accept it) is that Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill, yes Luke Skywalker himself) has been kidnapped by Internet billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). But Eggsy has to first survive the Kingsman training course before he can call himself an agent. Will he?
As with most spy movies, serious and comedic alike, there are tons of gadgets and “tricks of the trade.” Firth, with his dry wit and charm, leads the film though a fine cast of supporting characters help pave the way. I also neglected to mention that Michael Caine has a bit part in the film. As well he should, he’s essentially the British version of Samuel L. Jackson. Kingsman: The Secret Service has pretty much everything you’d want, need or expect in a film. It’s got action, women (and one with some very interesting appendages), gadgets, things blow up and more. What more do you need? Are you not entertained? If you’re sick of all of the James Bond movies and tired of some of the super hero movies that dominate the box office, we’ve got a new franchise in the making.
* Colin Firth is not really an action star.
Video: How’s it look?
My “pile” of Ultra HD’s isn’t that large, but having just recently re-watched this film on Blu-ray (I do love it so), I was curios as to how this would stack up to its “inferior” counterpart. I used quotes intentionally. The Blu-ray of this movie wasn’t perfect, but if I recall I think I said it was “damn close.” So having said that, on paper, the Ultra HD should look better, right?
Again, I am going to try to review Ultra HD films that I have Blu-ray’s for, so that I can do an A/B comparison between the two. One thing that stands out about this film is the use of patterns and texture. Certainly Samuel L. Jackson’s character dresses in some pretty outrageous getups, so I was curious to see how that translated over to the increased color and resolution of a UHD disc. While I did notice a greater color band, the resolution seemed about the same for me. I’ve not watched too many UHD titles on my television, so perhaps it takes some getting used to. I remember in the early days of Blu-ray (and HD-DVD), someone saying “watch one movie and go back to DVD and you won’t really notice much. Watch 10 of them and you’ll think that your television is out of focus.” And that might just be the case. While the difference between UHD and Blu-ray isn’t that readily apparent. Aside from a more vast array of colors, pretty much everything I said in my review stands true. Yes, that might be somewhat of a cop out, but I really was hard-pressed to find much of an improvement (apart from the colors). This is a learning experience for me as well and as I will most likely say for other titles: there really is no need to upgrade unless you don’t own the Blu-ray (the UHD does contain a Blu-ray of the film as well).
Audio: How’s it sound?
The same DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack from the Blu-ray has been ported over for this Ultra HD release and when you’ve got a lisping Samuel L. Jackson, you want to experience it in all of its HD glory. Thankfully this DTS HD Master Audio mix satisfied my cravings and what an active track it was! Directional effects were present in nearly every scene, the explosions resonated giving my subwoofer a chance to earn its keep and even the front stage seemed active throughout. Dialogue was faithfully reproduced which made way for a very robust and exciting sound mix. This is full of action from beginning to end, so crank it up and don’t feel bad about it!
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed – This is broken down in to six shorter segments, each of which runs approximately 10 minutes:
- Panel to Screen: The Education of a 21st Century Super-Spy – Director Matthew Vaughn and Comic Book Creator/Executive Producer Mark Millar discuss their inspiration for the film – a spy movie origin story that was an homage to spy movies of the past.
Heroes and Rogues – Vaughn discusses his casting process, what it takes to get a role in one of his films and how Colin Firth is the modern day David Niven (makes sense).
Style All His Own – Vaughn give us the skinny on this film and how it’s the culmination of all of his experience as a filmmaker. The process is explored and we’re given a bit of insight into his particular flair with this film.
Tools of the Trade – What’s a spy movie without cool gadgets? Nothing, that’s what! Actually this is more focused on the production design as Property Master David Cheesman takes us through some of the specific nuances found in the film. If God is in the details, I suppose that makes Mr. Cheesman God?
Breathtakingly Brutal – Various members of the cast and crew discuss some of the physical necessities for their roles. Vaughn’s attention to detail as well as the vigorous training they had to do make for a very compelling and interesting watch.
Culture Clash: The Comic Book Origins of The Secret Service – Seeing as how most modern day films have antecedents in comic books, Mark Millar gives us the skinny on bringing a comic book movie to life. To their credit, though, they do give us some details about how ideas are expressed in comics and how that translates to the big screen.
- Behind the Scenes
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a fun, thrilling and exciting film then look no further. I’m a big fan of films (and people) that don’t take themselves too seriously and this fits the bill. Everything you love about the James Bond films mixed in with a dash of everything you like about super hero films is packed into this one. This Ultra HD disc might not be the best out there, but it looks and sounds great and if you’re not UHD equipped and are maybe stockpiling these for future use, it does include the Blu-ray to boot.