04 November 2011

"Quantum of Solace" Blu-ray Disc

Quantum of Solace
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric, Giancarlo Giannini with Jeffery Wright and Judi Dench as "M"
Written by Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
Directed by Marc Forster
Blu-ray Disc Release Date: 24 March 2009
List Price: $39.99

I reviewed Quantum of Solace when I saw it at the Oldham 8 theater in 2008; hell, I even reviewed the trailer before I saw the movie. I still believe it's a highly underrated Bond movie and I stand by my initial characterization of it as the closest that a movie has come to capturing the sense of reading an Ian Fleming Bond novel. The pace is fast and furious, and the villain masquerades as a public hero while working on something a bit convoluted...and yet entirely plausible. Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) isn't out to provoke World War III or eradicate mankind. He's trying to seize control of a very precious natural resource that numerous experts insist will soon become the source of global contention. It may be underwhelming now, but like Tomorrow Never Dies I suspect eventually we will call Quantum of Solace "prescient."

Anyway, I finally got around to the bonus content on the Blu-ray Disc last night and I have to say this was outright disappointing. Ever since the late 90s Special Edition DVDs, James Bond movies have come packed with bonus features including commentary tracks to the creation of the film, documentaries of the history of the franchise, biographies of key cast and crew, promotional materials, music videos and all kinds of other content. Quantum of Solace, however, contains very little. There is a feature, "Bond on Location" that runs 24:45 and is a fairly decent overview of the production of the film. It's more superficial than typical Bond making-ofs, but it's the lion's share of what's here. There are five additional clips that run between 2:14 and 3:14, amounting to little more than extended versions of a few pieces of "Bond on Location." It seems to me they were only excised and expanded so that the menu showed more than one documentary.

There are, however more than 45 minutes of Crew Files. These were released as a series of behind-the-scenes capsules of various crew members explaining the nature of their work on the film. Typically, I go gaga over this kind of stuff but none of these Crew Files even hits the two-minute mark so there's very little in the way of actual content to be found. After the first seven or so, it became boring; it was outright tedious to finish slogging my way through all of them. Otherwise, the only other bonus content are two trailers and the music video of "Another Way to Die," performed by Jack White and Alicia Keys (which at least was not pillarboxed like the video of Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" on Casino Royale).
It's fairly obvious that a lot of content was withheld expressly for the purpose of padding future reissues of Quantum of Solace on Blu-ray or whatever formats follow it. This strategy was already used for Casino Royale; the initial release had basic features (padded by a slightly expanded version of the full-length documentary, Bond Girls Are Forever) but it wasn't until the second release of the movie that we got the commentary track and the lion's share of the bonus content that has been released to date. It's aggravating because on the one hand, I admit there comes a point where you look at the sheer volume of Bond bonus content and have to wonder, "Just what is there really left to even discuss?" By now we've all become familiar with their process of scouting exotic locations, rehearsing and executing elaborate stunts and then some footage of the lavish premiere with the principal cast smiling and schmoozing.

And yet...I feel cheated by the absence of this admittedly extraneous material largely because I've become accustomed to its inclusion and because I know it will be offered in subsequent releases. I don't want to have to choose between owning a Bond movie when it comes out or waiting until the next Bond movie is made to get the release I should have had in the first place. They were very generous with this stuff all the way through Die Another Day, but that appears to no longer be the Bond home video modus operandi.

Still, I really enjoy the movie and of course that's the primary reason this is in my library. It is gorgeous in HD, I'll admit. I am, however, glad that I was able to buy this at Target in late 2009 on sale for $15. I feel disappointed by the bonus content at that price. I think I would have felt cheated had I paid $20-25 and probably quite angry if I had paid the actual list price of $39.99.