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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Argo [Blu-ray]

 

(Ben Affleck, 2012)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:00:22.256

Disc Size: 38,932,180,922 bytes

Feature Size: 31,576,639,488 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.85 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 19th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3738 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3738 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio Chinese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Thai 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
PiP: DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai  none

 

Extras:

Feature Length Picture in Picture: Eye Witness Account
Commentary by Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio
Rescued from Tehran: We Were There (16:51)
Behind the Scenes - Argo: Absolute Authenticity (11:19)
ARGO: The CIA & Hollywood Connection - Escape From Iran: The Hollywood Option (6:05)

DVD of the Feature - Ultraviolet Digital Connection

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Based on real events the dramatic thriller "Argo" chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played-information that was not declassified until many years after the event. On November 4 1979 as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran taking 52 Americans hostage. But in the midst of the chaos six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top "exfiltration" specialist Tony Mendez to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible it could only happen in the movies.

***

When militants seize control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran during the height of the Iranian Revolution, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) creates a fake Hollywood production in order to fool the terrorists into releasing a group of U.S. diplomats in this Warner Bros. docudrama based on actual events. Affleck directs from a script by Chris Terrio, with George Clooney handling producing duties. Alan Arkin, John Goodman, and Bryan Cranston co-star

 

 

The Film:

It’s a little-known fact that Ben Affleck – celebrity totty, tabloid bait and esteemed filmmaker – has a degree in Middle Eastern affairs from the University of Vermont. It’s a qualification he puts to good use in ‘Argo’, a nail-biting thriller based (fairly loosely) on real events which, for the majority of its length, manages to avoid the expected Hollywood clichés about the Middle East and promote a balanced view of America’s dealings with that troubled region.

It’s 1979, and after the fall of the Shah supporters of the new Islamic rulers of Iran have laid siege to the US embassy, demanding the return of their former leader for trial. But six embassy employees have escaped, and are hiding out in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Enter Tony Mendez (Affleck) a CIA exfiltration expert with a crafty if bizarre plan: posing as a film producer – complete with sci-fi script, production sketches and an ad in Variety – he’ll smuggle the six back to safety.

For 100 minutes, ‘Argo’ is close to flawless. Unashamedly modelling his directorial style on the stark, serious ’70s thrillers of Alan J Pakula and Sidney Lumet, Affleck cranks up the tension expertly. The script is witty and insightful, contrasting US and Iranian popular reactions to the crisis: it’s ‘Death to America’ versus ‘Ayatollah Assaholla’. There’s not enough attention paid to character development – Mendez, in particular, never comes into sharp focus – but that was true in the Pakula/Lumet films, too, and it’s mitigated by a superb cast, notably Alan Arkin as an irascible Hollywood old-hand.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

At one point in “Argo,” a smart, jittery thriller about a freakish and little-known chapter of the Iranian hostage crisis, a Hollywood producer says that history starts as farce and ends up as tragedy. He seems, as someone rightly points out, to have it backward. But as a professional dissembler, he knows better. Because much like the revolutionary shock troops who seized the United States embassy on Nov. 4th, 1979, and turned the crisis into gripping political theater watched by the entire world — tune in tomorrow when America goes on trial, with the special guest star the Ayatollah Khomeini — the producer knows that historical events alone don’t cut it. You need lights, camera, action.

Excerpt from Manohla Dargis at the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Argo arrives on Blu-ray from Warner and the much-lauded film gets a deserving 1080P transfer.  The image quality looks strong but it does have a teal-heavy appearance.  This is dual-layered with an acceptable bitrate for the 2-hour film. Skin tones seem true and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. Archival news footage is window-boxed but looks color-enhanced. Daylight scenes are more impressive but no noise was evident. This Blu-ray has a some depth and generally detail is strong considering the camera is so kinetic.  I couldn't find anything notable to complain about - this appears to be a decent replication of the theatrical film.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio comes in a strong DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a robust 3738 kbps. It exports the aggressive effects of the film with depth and crisp separations. The score is by Alexandre Desplat (Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom and Polanski's Carnage to his credits) and is supported well by the lossless audio. There are some nice subtle touches to this film's sound - picked-up expertly by the uncompressed track. It can be frequently impressive.  My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

There are some extensive supplements including both a Feature length Picture-in-Picture with multiple eye witness accounts and historical perspective of the onscreen activity - included as well is a thorough commentary by Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio detailing information on both the script and the production with frequent comments on basing the film on the authentic events. We also get three featurettes; 'Rescued from Tehran: We Were There' runs 17-minutes with rescued participants, Behind the Scenes - Argo: Absolute Authenticity runs 11-minutes focusing on accurate details of the plot and 'ARGO: The CIA & Hollywood Connection - Escape From Iran: The Hollywood Option' is a shortish 6-minutes on the historical connections. There is a DVD of the Feature with an Ultraviolet Digital Connection ability.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The tension is built with precise acuity and is a key component of Argo's gripping intensity. This has a fabulous supporting cast and Affleck deserves heavy Kudos for his impressive direction. The, frequently unbelievable, story is told with expert art direction nailing the period and it is details like these that help drive home the many strengths of the film. It's hard not to be very impressed with Argo and with the many extras - we give this Blu-ray a strong recommendation. Marvelous! 

Gary Tooze

January 31st, 2013


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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