Dec/2018

4K UHD Review: ‘Argo’!

by Gumbercules9000 on Dec 8th, 2016

Hi everyone, Bryan here….

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THE FILM

Ben Affleck’sArgo’ is a brilliantly told film.  Affleck has come a long way since ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Mallrats‘.  In my opinion, Affleck has gotten better with each directorial effort with ‘Gone Baby Gone’, ‘The Town’, and now ‘Argo’, which I think is his best yet.  Not only is ‘Argo’ a great film, it has a smart script, good acting, clever humor in a serious and tragic situation, and impeccable period detail that rivals AMC’s ‘Mad Men’.

Argo’ is the true story of the Iran hostage crisis from 1979-1980, where the Ayatollah Khomeini took over for the US supported Shah in Iran in 1979, which was de-classified in 1997 by president Bill Clinton.  Tensions reached an all time high at this point when the Ayatollah condemned the western world and angered its citizens.  The American embassy employees and citizens who were wanting to get to the US were all taken hostage by the angry mob outside the gates once they broke through.  However, six American employees managed to escape the embassy and take refuge at the Canadian embassy down the road.  A couple of months went by, and the Iranians still did not know that there were six missing embassy employees.

The CIA has been trying to plan a scheme to get these six hostages out of Iran, without being caught.  Here is where agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes into the picture.  He has had former experience with getting people out of hostage situations.  After each plan is laid out, everyone figures it won’t work, until Mendez watches a scene of ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ with his son and gets the idea to smuggle out the hostages through a fake sci-fi movie production set in Iran.

He enlists the help of make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to help get the word out about this new sci-fi film called ‘Argo’ to seem like it’s a real thing.  Mendez insists that this film must look and have all the real traits of going forward as a real project, so that if any foreign person can check to see if the project is legit while Mendez is out there posing as a producer and location scout.

After the okay from Mendez’s boss Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston), the “Hollywood Operation’ is a go.  All the fake passports and documents are made and Mendez sets out for Iran to rescue the six Americans who have been taking refuge for a few months now.  Even though, we all know how this turned out, the final act had me on the edge of my seat and sweating bullets.  Much kudos to Affleck and writer Chris Terrio.

There is actually quite a bit of comedy in this bleak thriller.  Alan Arkin’s Hollywood producer character and John Goodman’s real life make up artist character steal the show. Their sardonic remarks about Hollywood and the business had me laughing out loud throughout the film. While this is not a 100% actual account of what happened, ‘Argo’ isn’t that movie, however Affleck went above and beyond to make this as authentic as possible.  The interiors, clothing, makeup are spot on.  Affleck even uses the old Warner Bros. logo at the start of the film.

Affleck intersperses clips from actual footage of this crisis and interviews with news anchors and images of the riots and time period to which he places up at the end of the film next to stills from ‘Argo’ that exactly match the real photographs.  Affleck also added the side-by-side images of the real people and actors who played them.  And like I said above, we all know how this turns out, but Affleck’s director and storytelling still got a big emotional reaction from me and the audience.

It took me to till the end of the film to realize that one of the actors in the film who played one of the hostages was a former co-star of Affleck’s from ‘Dazed and Confused’.  His name was Rory Cochrane and when you see the film, see if you can pick him out.  Argo’ is a great film, one you’ll want to see in theaters and own on home video.  The acting is great and the script is phenomenal.  I hope this receives and Oscar nod for writing.  If this is a sign of what Affleck is capable of, then bring it on Ben.  I want more.

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THE VIDEO/AUDIO

Warner Bros. goes undercover with the 4K UHD release of ‘Argo‘, which has a HEVC H.265 encode in HDR10 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This release has a digital download code as well as the standard Blu-ray version, in addition to the 4K disc. There is no 3D option here. This 4K version has better detail that is sharper and more vivid than the standard Blu-ray version. The closeups of the actor’s faces show wrinkles, makeup blemishes, beads of sweat, and pores easily and nicely. The architecture of the overseas housing and buildings show all of the grime and worn down craftmanship very well. Perhaps the biggest upgrade here is the HDR. Every color is very well balanced and looks life life and realistic. Those crystal clear blue skies in a few scenes look amazing.

The many oranges, browns, yellows, and reds look very impressive and keeps with that 1970’s era of mood lighting. Going back to the detail, individual hairs in the big hairdo show up well and all of the intimate stitching looks gorgeous in those fun 1970’s costumes. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are always natural. There is an excellent layer of grain that gives the image that 1970’s feel and not like it has gone through the digital car wash. There are some moments where there is a yellowish hue to the image, but that is a style choice and not a transfer issue. There were no problems with any compression problems, leaving this video presentation with great marks.

The Audio: This 4K UHD version does not come with a new Dolby Atmos sound option, but rather just imports the previous lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which sounds great. Sound effects are full and robust from start to finish. This is a highly suspenseful film so it’s key to balance out every sound in a fully immersive experience, which ‘Argo’ does well. The protestors and yells sound incredible and fully engulf the soundscape, which puts you in the center of everything.

The helicopters that fly overhead, glass breaking, and the crowded outdoor marketplace is busy, organic, and sounds amazing. The score and music always adds to the suspense of the film and never drowns out any other sound aspect. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and is free of any pops, cracks, hiss, and high shrills. The low end brings the bass in the heavier action moments as  well as when the plane takes off at the end. Great audio mix here.

 

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THE EXTRAS

Audio Commentary – Ben Affleck and writer Chris Terrio discuss making the film, focusing on the technical aspects, how the story translated to the big screen, and casting. Decent listen.

Eyewitness Account – This is an AWESOME feature that is a picture-in-picture commentary track with all of the real life people that were depicted in this movie, as they watch the film and give their comments. Damn good stuff here.

Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option (HD, 47 Mins.) – Here is a documentary from 2005 that has interviews with the real life people the movie is based on and some original footage from when this took place.

Rescued from Tehran: We Were There (HD, 17 Mins.) – New interviews with the real life people here, as well as the people who helped implement the plan.

Absolute Authenticity (HD, 11 Mins.) – Here is what the filmmakers did to make the film look as realistic and true to the story as possible.

The CIA and Hollywood Connection (HD, 6 Mins.) – An awesome interview with makeup artist John Chambers and Tony Mendez and their work for the CIA.

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THE ULTIMATE WORD

This 4K UHD version of ‘Argo‘ is an excellent buy. The film itself is excellent with great performances, and amazing direction. Ben Affleck sure knows how to make a movie. Hell, this even won the OSCAR. The video upgrade is definitely noticeable and looks great along with the sound option, which is immersive. The extras are excellent as well, making this HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

-Bryan Kluger

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