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Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt

Quantum of Solace

There is not a quantum of solace in the latest installment of the James Bond series, Quantum of Solace, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment release. The action scenes move forward relentlessly and the dramatic interims barely interfere with the pace. The film is a true installment as well, with hardly a plot to call its own. It picks up mid-car chase, about a half of a scene after the end of the previous Bond film, Casino Royale, and concludes in the same openendedness with which it began. Nominally, the 2008 feature has a story about a young woman who wants to assassinate a South American military leader, and a businessman who is trying to corner the market on water in that military leader’s country. But it is clear that the story is the least of anyone’s interests. The film’s title is left almost utterly unexplained, and nobody bothered to include what should have been an all-important shot of the South American peasants getting their water for free again once the villain is dispatched. Not even James Bond sweats the details any more. The completely absurd-looking hotel that is stuck in the middle of nowhere and is destroyed in one of the film’s climaxes, as one learns in the supplementary features on the Two-Disc Special Edition, is a genuine hotel, catering to astronomers who are visiting the nearby observatories in the Chilean desert, but in the movie there is no reference to the observatories and it is just an outlandishly fancy building with no apparent purpose except to be an object of destruction. Daniel Craig, whose Slavic features seem more suited to a Russian mobster than a British secret agent, plays Bond with such deadly seriousness, however, that he counteracts the film’s absurdities effectively, sort of like an antidote to a poison, letting the viewer bask in the movie’s luxuries and hurtle, unharmed, through its action. As escapism looms as the only true relief to trying times, the series, and Craig, can look forward to reaping untold rewards by providing a unique and reliable balm for many installments to come.

The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The color transfer looks fine. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound has some terrific separation effects, but there is a DTS track that is even better defined. The 106-minute feature (the shortest Bond movie in quite some time) has alternate French and Spanish tracks in 5.1 Dolby, optional English and Spanish subtitles, two trailers and an Alicia Keyes and Jack White music video. The best feature on the second platter of Special Edition is a 46-minute collection of interviews, original shot for Internet promotion, with various subsidiary members of the film’s crew. There is also a 25-minute production featurette and 14 minutes of shorter pieces.

The Blu-ray release is absolutely amazing. Normally, the differences between DVDs and BDs are slight or nearly imperceptible, particularly on new releases, and to begin with, the DVD ofQuantum of Solace is terrific, but the BD just blows it away. The colors are incredibly sharper and virtually flawless, and in shot after shot, the film’s images are transfixing. The DVD seems boring in comparison. And that’s just the picture. The DTS-HD sound is like a velvet fist lined with minute particles of incandescent glass. The amplification can be raised to the point where smoke starts coming out of one’s speakers, and yet every tiny music and effect detail is fully discernible amid the loudest rumbles. And no matter how noisy a scene becomes, the atmosphere of its environment is never lost, so a viewer remains totally absorbed in the action, the glamour, and the James Bondness of it all. The supplemental features available on the Special Edition DVD are repeated on the BD. Additionally, there is a Portuguese audio track and four extra subtitle tracks.

– by Douglas Pratt

Douglas Pratt’s DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter is published monthly.
For a free sample, call (516)594-9304 or go to his website at

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