Kingsman: The Golden Circle (4K Blu-ray) (2017)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 20-Dec-2017

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Comedy None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 141:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Matthew Vaughn
Studio
Distributor
20th CENTURY FOX
Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Taron Egerton
Julianne Moore
Pedro Pascal
Colin Firth
Halle Berry
Mark Strong
Jeff Bridges
Channing Tatum
Edward Holcroft
Hanna Alström
Elton John
Emily Watson
Bruce Greenwood
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Henry Jackman
Matthew Margeson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French dts 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
French
Spanish
Danish
Dutch
Finnish
German
Italian
Norwegian
Swedish
Chinese
Czech
Chinese
Polish
Smoking Yes, Drug use
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Even though sequels have materialised for two of Matthew Vaughn’s previous motion pictures, 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle denotes the first time that the filmmaker has returned to personally direct a follow-up to one of his own movies. A bold but distinctly organic-feeling sequel to 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Golden Circle is a goofy, enjoyable return to this world of post-modernist spy movie satire masterminded by comic-book writer Mark Millar. It’s filled with flashy gadgets, bawdy humour, energetic ultraviolence, and an array of Oscar-winning actors in supporting roles - and Vaughn’s directorial confidence undeniably bolsters the material. In short, fans of the first movie are sure to find some worth in this insanely fun follow-up, but it won’t change your mind if you disliked the original surprise hit.

    Now comfortable in his role as a world-saving secret agent, Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) also endeavours to have a private life outside of his work, maintaining a relationship with Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström). But when the Kingsman are mysteriously destroyed in a coordinated attack, only Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) are left alive. Following their doomsday protocol, the pair are led to America where they meet with their U.S. counterpart, the Statesman. Run by Champagne (Jeff Bridges), the Statesman offer much-needed assistance to Eggsy and Merlin, with agents Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) and Tequila (Channing Tatum) reporting for duty. In addition, Eggsy is reunited with his presumed-dead mentor, Harry (Colin Firth), who now suffers from amnesia. Evidence behind the Kingsman’s destruction points to Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the deranged leader of a major drug cartel who grows tired of hiding in the jungles of Cambodia to oversee her operation. Lacing her products with a highly lethal toxin for which only she holds the antidote, Poppy holds the whole world hostage, seeking to force the immediate legalisation of all drugs.

    The Golden Circle is a full meal, dealing with the destruction of the Kingsman, settling in with the Statesman, Harry’s ostensibly hopeless amnesia, Poppy’s intricate scheme, and many other plot machinations, earning its beefy 140-minute runtime which is certainly excessive for a spy film. Its predecessor was long enough at 129 minutes, but this is even longer. Indeed, The Golden Circle is plotted much like a Roger Moore James Bond film - that is, it gets caught up in tangents that ultimately feel superfluous, taking too long to get to the story’s final destination. In particular, there is a mildly amusing but definitely overlong subplot that only serves to satirise the clichéd old spy trope in which the hero must seduce the villain’s girlfriend - it’s dead weight despite a few funny moments. Nevertheless, the movie benefits from a goofy sense of humour, and Elton John is even included, playing himself. John may not be much of an actor, but he’s a total hoot here, and the singer gets in on the action.

    There was a palpable father/son bond between Eggsy and Harry in the original film, and this is furthered in The Golden Circle - the film initially deals with how Eggsy deals with the loss of a father figure, but with Harry’s amnesia, the script visibly evokes dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s surprisingly poignant, adding an emotional undercurrent to the mayhem, even if the movie can’t really find anything new to do with Eggsy or the other characters. Still, The Golden Circle does enough to advance the franchise at large to prevent it from feeling too meaningless in the grand scheme of things. In addition, Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman again manage to find time for acerbic socio-political satire between the broader gags. Hell, the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) actually sees Poppy’s scheme as an ideal way to win the war on drugs once and for all. Plus, Poppy’s Cambodian headquarters - an ancient temple remodelled into a nostalgia-tribute to 1950s America - represents a sly visual commentary on American-style colonialism that really deserves more credit.

    Nobody can stage action quite like Vaughn, and he has a ball here, going absolutely bonkers in the major action sequences which easily surpass anything seen in the last 007 movie, the limp Spectre. The action starts early, opening with a dazzling fight scene inside a car set to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” and the sense of creativity scarcely wanes. Whereas the original movie hit a high bar with the astonishing church shootout at the end of its second act, The Golden Circle saves the best for last. The extended assault on Poppy’s jungle HQ is a total gas, combining thrilling fisticuffs with ultraviolent gunplay, backed by a selection of Elton John hits which really tops it all off. There are a fair few catchy tunes throughout, even making terrific use of “Word Up” by The BossHoss, amplifying the sense of goofy fun. And best of all, the set-pieces aren’t cut to ribbons - Vaughn uses his trademark swirling tracking shots, allowing you to see and enjoy every frame of the mayhem without struggling to figure out what’s going on. Vaughn retains his proclivity for enhancing the action with obvious CGI, but this is part of his comic-book style, and it distinguishes the film from many of its contemporaries. What matters is that The Golden Circle is genuinely thrilling throughout its action set-pieces, serving up more of what you loved about the first movie.

    Moore is hugely appealing and eminently watchable as Poppy, projecting a buoyant, optimistic attitude while something more sinister bubbles underneath. She’s a treat. Egerton can do this type of material in his sleep now, and he remains a charismatic hero, while Strong provides excellent support. Firth was the surprise standout of the original movie, reinventing himself as an agile action hero despite being in his 50s, and his return here is very welcome. Although some may feel that his survival comes across as cheap and unrealistic, can you really complain too much when Firth is this much fun? Besides, the movie is one big cartoon, who really cares about realism? In spite of what the marketing would have you believe, Tatum and Bridges have very little presence in the movie, amounting to extended cameos which will presumably lead into another sequel or even a spin-off. Pascal gets the lion’s share of the screen-time here, effortlessly pulling off a wonderfully cartoonish American cowboy archetype, and sharing more than a passing resemblance to Burt Reynolds with his moustache, while the movie makes good use of Berry as well. Also keep a look out for Bruce Greenwood and Emily Watson as the President and his Chief of Staff, respectively.

    Although Kingsman: The Golden Circle falls short of its gleefully left-field predecessor, it is a worthy follow-up in spite of its overlong runtime and scripting shortcomings. The movie plays smoother on repeat viewings and doesn’t fall apart in hindsight, as silly as it may be. There is still enough inspiration in the action and comedy to ensure that another instalment remains an exciting prospect.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Like its 2015 predecessor, Kingsman: The Golden Circle was shot digitally with Arri Alexa cameras and only completed at 2K resolution, presumably making this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray an upscale direct from the digital intermediate. Framed at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, this 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded video presentation is a welcome upgrade over its standard Blu-ray counterpart, with better refinement in almost every department and with a bolder, more vibrant colour palette. 20th Century Fox make use of a dual-layered BD-66, which may seem insufficient given the monster running time, but since the movie has the entire disc to itself and all the extras are housed on the accompanying standard Blu-ray, the bitrate is sufficient and the presentation never suffers from compression artefacts - it's smooth sailing.

    As stated in my review of the standard Blu-ray, parts of certain shots do look soft and almost blurry, which is more noticeable with the added resolution. (See a wide shot of Poppy's guards outside her Cambodian compound at the 110-minute mark.) As a matter of fact, in most shots throughout the movie, there is a certain softness and distortion to the edges of the frame, which has been a point of contention in online forums. However, this is all a deliberate decision on the part of Vaughn and cinematographer George Richmond, as they chose to use old-school anamorphic lenses which create this type of effect. Older motion pictures made use of such lenses, and as more and more catalogue movies shot anamorphically hit 4K Blu-ray, people will notice this even more (and lose their minds). In the case of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, this is a source-related creative decision - not a fault of the encode. In addition, I have previously noted that it does look as if minor noise reduction was applied to the movie in post-production, especially given the lack of source noise and Vaughn's proclivity for using DNR (see Kick-Ass), but this 4K transfer still looks nicely-detailed from top to bottom. "Grain haters" will love this one.

    The 4K encode brings out as much fine detail as possible, maintaining flawless clarity and looking razor-sharp no matter the lighting conditions. Yes, there is source-related softness at the edges of the frame, but there are otherwise no issues to speak of. In facial close-ups, you can make out every wrinkle and pore, while textures are even more omnipresent on every piece of clothing. On weapons, you can make out every nook and cranny, while facial hair on Edward Holcroft is perfectly defined even in medium shots. The texturing may not be a huge step up compared to the standard Blu-ray, but the 4K transfer still looks tighter all-round, and maintains textural precision under low-light. A shot of a digitally de-aged Firth also looks noticeably better and less smooth. It is worth pointing out that 2K is actually a slightly higher resolution than 1080p, and therefore the 4K transfer is able to bring out additional textures compared to the standard Blu-ray.

    The disc's High Dynamic Range is encoded in HDR10 as opposed to Dolby Vision, which may displease certain videophiles since the movie did receive a DV grade for its theatrical release in Dolby Cinemas. (It's also worth noting that Dolby Vision is also not available on the 4K version currently streaming on iTunes.) Nevertheless, the HDR is one of the biggest benefits of the 4K video presentation. Since my cinema viewings were only in SDR, it is evident that the transfer differs in terms of colours compared to the cinema as well as the standard Blu-ray, but it's faithful to Vaughn's intentions and all for the better - with more lifelike colours, deeper blacks, better contrast, and infinitely superior depth. Purely from a colour standpoint, this 4K disc is a big enough improvement over the 1080p Blu-ray, and it's also one of the most gorgeous uses of HDR and Wide Colour Gamut I have ever seen. In comparison, the standard Blu-ray looks positively desaturated and is hard to return to. The differences are particularly noticeable during sequences set at Poppy's compound, which are more saturated and colourful thanks to the aggressive HDR grading, with a push towards orange and red. Yes, skin tones do run hot, sometimes too unnaturally hot, which can serve to make certain scenes look more artificial, but this is all part of the intended look, since this is a big-screen cartoon. Your mileage may vary, but I dug it.

    The 1080p Blu-ray was no slouch, but this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is a welcome upgrade, and undeniably the definitive way to experience The Golden Circle at home. I did notice a bit of judder during panning or tilting, but it's not a big problem, and the encode is otherwise free of bothersome anomalies like aliasing, ringing, macroblocking or crush. As long as you can accept the creative decisions in regards to the aggressive HDR grading and use of anamorphic lenses, you'll find this disc to be a real beauty.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Kingsman: The Golden Circle was mixed in Dolby Atmos and exhibited as such in select cinemas. The standard Blu-ray only featured a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio track, but this 4K edition ups the ante with a Dolby Atmos mix, so audiophiles can rejoice. I do not have an Atmos set-up and cannot comment on the overhead activity, but this track still packs a real punch and features fantastic surround activity, sounding professionally-mixed in every aspect across the board. This is a loud and aggressive track when it needs to be, and luckily dialogue remains comprehensible no matter the conditions. In fact, the track is so crystal clear that you can make out the slight distortion of Charlie's voice.

    During the primary set-pieces, the track roars to life. Subwoofer is excellent, accentuating the impact of every gunshot, explosion, engine roars, and even the rip-roaring original soundtrack. (The climactic mayhem at Poppy's compound will make your walls shake and probably have your neighbours registering noise complaints.) Ambience is used effectively throughout the movie - music can be heard in the background at Glastonbury Music Festival, and sounds of the jungle are heard at Poppy's compound, just to name a couple of examples. The score, as well as the selection of songs played throughout, come through all the channels to best effect - the use of songs like "Word Up" and Prince's "Let's Get Crazy," not to mention the Elton John tunes, really amplify the sense of fun throughout.

    I could not detect any encoding flaws; there are no drop-outs or sync issues, not is there any popping or clicking to spoil this wonderful audio track. Full marks from me.

    Multiple other audio tracks are available on the disc, implying that Fox manufactured one disc for most territories. It's worth pointing out that the subtitle and audio options are identical to the U.S. 4K disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The 4K disc itself contains no supplemental material. The included standard Blu-ray, however, houses many extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In terms of extras, all editions worldwide appear to be identical. Buy local.

Summary

    A riotous big-screen cartoon, Kingsman: The Golden Circle may have been panned quite a bit by critics, but I personally enjoyed the hell out of the movie and I'm glad to own it. Action is suitably crazy, the dark comedy hits hard, and it's entertaining more often than not, despite its mammoth runtime.

    The excellent 2160p 4K presentation represents a welcome upgrade over the already stellar standard Blu-ray, while the Atmos track is flawless. The included standard Blu-ray also contains a great selection of special features, making this an easy buy. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, January 02, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE