All four Daniel Craig 007 flicks (so far) come to 4K Ultra HD exclusively in a boxed set – the first Bond outings on the format. So, how does Bond, James Bond, fare on the format? Will this quartet leave you shaken, or stirred?
Casino Royale (2006)
The story: Mr Craig first steps into the shoes of Mr Bond, returning some of the original grit to the role that Sean Connery originally made his own. It may bear the same title as an “unofficial” 007 flick from the 1960s that starred the likes of Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, David Niven, Ursula Andress, Deborah Kerr and Woody Allen but, needless to say, this one dials up the action considerably – and the world travel. From Prague to Nassau and Miami to Venice, the story of 007 is rebooted, as James earns his license to kill, and soon gets to use it while embarking upon his first mission – defeating a terrorist-funding private banker in a game of poker at the Casino Royale in Montenegro.
The 4K disc: The action kicks off in black and white in this neatly upscaled 2K transfer, and things are a bit grainy. When proceedings kick into colour, however, the Dolby Vision-enhanced picture bursts to life, as does clarity. Outdoor scenes shine, while darker locales deliver detail that the standard Blu-ray just cannot match. In all this is a good transfer… but there’s even better to come.
Audio is delivered by a pre-existing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that makes all sorts of noises in all the right places – well, except for the height channels. This is a seriously busy mix that uses the sub to great effect, while spreading the aural love all around the various surround channels. Yes, Atmos or DTS:X would have been nice, but this 5.1 mix is far from a letdown.
In the extras department, a crew commentary features on the 4K disc. While the four 4K discs of this set are housed in their own single-width plastic case, the four corresponding standard Blu-rays are also included in their own package, which means extras! Pop in the standard Blu-ray for deleted scenes, several featurettes and the video for Chris Cornell’s Bond theme You Know My Name.
Quantum of Solace
The story: Bond shows his greenie credentials, getting environmental as the CIA look the other way when a green tech developer is up to no good in Bolivia. Meanwhile, an attempt on M’s life also keeps our agent busy as he flits from Haiti to Russia, via Austria (of course!) and beyond.
The 4K disc: A solid upscaled 2K transfer is the order of the day here, with added Dolby Vision dynamic range treatment. This lends the image some marvellous highs of whites and deep, deep blacks, in what is generally a detailed – if not jaw-droppingly stunning – presentation of the movie.
Like Casino Royale, sound comes via an existing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that defies its lack of height channels to still fill your home theatre with relentless audio fun. The sub is pleasingly active right from the initial Aston Martin trip through scenic Italy, too.
While no extras appear on the 4K disc, the included standard Blu-ray delivers several featurettes, trailers and the music video for Jack White (The White Stripes) and Alicia Keys’ theme collaboration Another Way to Die.
The story: If it isn’t enough that Bond’s loyalty to M comes into question, he also manages to cause a spot of fuss when a mission goes sideways and exposes the identities of MI6 agents worldwide. From Turkey (Istanbul, not Constantinople…) to Macau and China to Japan, events lead to an explosive climax for our man of action.
The 4K disc: Alright, now we’re in 4K master territory, and Bond has never looked better. Also aided and abetted by Dolby Vision enhancement, the picture here is fabulous. Almost everything that you could want from a 4K Ultra HD picture is delivered, with incredible clarity and detail – Mr Craig does have a rather weathered face – and a super range of bright whites through to inky blacks exhibited throughout.
Over in the audio department, we have another very competent, but height channel eschewing, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. You’d scarcely notice the lack of extra channels, as this is a huge mix that never fails to excite the ears, even in its quietest moments.
Extras fans will be keen to listen in on the two audio commentaries housed on the 4K disc, while popping in the handily included standard Blu-ray delivers more, in the form of a featurette collection under the banner of Shooting Bond, along with a couple of trailers. Adele missed out in the music video department. Poor Adele.
The story: Bond goes rogue in Mexico City, which doesn’t go down too well with the new M – or his newly-appointed overlords, who want the 00 programme shut down as they consider it anachronistic. Meanwhile, what is this whole Spectre organisation thing, what are they up to and how does everything tie together? 007 may just have to visit the likes of Italy, Austria (once more) and Morocco to find out.
The 4K disc: You know that old saying about saving the best for last? Welcome to Spectre on 4K Ultra HD. This is as perfect an example as any as to why so many people rave about the format, and a showcase of what it’s truly capable of. Coming to us straight from a 4K master, the picture here really is stunning, offering immense levels of detail and clarity. Then there’s the added Dolby Vision, which takes all that detailed vision and bolsters the whites and blacks where it should, for a visual presentation that will blow away even the biggest non-believers.
While the audio accompaniment still doesn’t venture into height channel territory, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix featured here is magnificent. The scene in Mexico near the start when a helicopter is swirling out of control puts the listener right in the midst of the action, and it’s one of the coolest examples of exciting surround channel usage that you’re ever likely to clap ears upon. The rest of the movie’s no aural slouch, either, with solid bass and great balancing of soundtrack with dialogue.
While nothing in the way of bonus stuff features on the 4K disc, just swap it out for the included standard Blu-ray (we really love this practice of delivering both formats in the one package SO much) and there’s a bit to get into. As well as a special look at the spectacular opening sequence, there’s a collection of video blogs, a gallery and some trailers. The only possible thing to be disappointed by is the lack of Sammy Smith’s Writing on the Wall music video. But we think we’ll live to die another day…
Release date: November 13, 2019
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.