The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 120 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea Duvall
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Written by: Chris Terrio
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 19, 2013
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.
The movie was fake, the mission was real. As a fan of films based on real life stories I was immediately drawn to Argo. As far as human interest stories go they don’t come much better. I was a young teenager when the hostage crisis broke out in Iran and I have clear recollections of many of the images, news broadcasts and nationwide focus that resulted. I honestly don’t remember the rescue of the six “Houseguests” being credited to the Canadians but just remember seeing them on the news and so forth. More than that I remember the seemingly unending plight of the hostages and the harrowing 444 days they spent pent up in that embassy in Tehran. Seeing them finally come home in 1981was truly a joyous event.
Argo focuses on the “Houseguests” a group of six Americans that slipped out of the embassy’s “backdoor” and found refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador Kenneth Taylor. The film paints a vivid picture of the steps taken to devise a plan to get an operative into Iran and back out with the six Americans in tow. This wasn’t going to be the run of the mill rescue in the kick ass and don’t bother taking names aspect. With 60 other Americans lives hanging in the balance escalating matters by direct means wasn’t on the table for the regime making the decisions.
The film makes every attempt to authentically portray the various scenarios that unfolded behind the scenes. This included the lengths necessary to conjure up a plausible reason for a movie crew to scout locations for their film in Iran as well as the trickling decisions and indecisions that at any moment could have spelled disaster. It all came down to a hand full of people, none of whom were anywhere near the top of the decision making chain, that made a plan and a goal to make it work come hell or high water. At the end of the day a little luck, a lot of guile and the support of a nation saw it through.
Argo isn’t your typical story of heroes but as far as films that depict daring, courage and tension go it’s assuredly riveting. It grabs hold right at the start and doesn’t let go. There isn’t time for deep character building which is fine since we see them as credible based upon the factual nature of the storyline. The screenplay does a superb job of establishing a foundational correlation between the characters while integrating thematic melodrama and effectively building suspense. The finale is an emotive white knuckle ride that defines the essence of excellent filmmaking.
The cast as an ensemble is simply marvelous. It is made up of a variety of quality actors both primary and supporting that lend credibility to the film. Standouts in my opinion are Bryan Cranston, Scoot McNairy, and the tandem of John Goodman/Alan Arkin the latter of whom literally steals every scene he is in. I also appreciated the plethora of cameos, including the likes of Zeljko Ivanek, Bob Gunton, Kyle Chandler, Richard Kind and my girl Adrienne Barbeau, who still looks great at 67.
“Argo” has earned numerous major honors to date, including Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture and Best Director; Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Picture and Best Director; and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Cast Performance. In addition, the film earned seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Arkin) and Best Adapted Screenplay; and seven BAFTA Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Affleck) and Best Supporting Actor (Arkin). Ben Affleck has also been recognized with a Directors Guild of America Award nomination.
I found Argo deserving of the accolades it has thus received. I appreciate its authentic approach, cohesive narrative, staunch direction and strong performances. It is a brilliant thriller that is among the best films released last year.
The rating is for language and some violent images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Argo comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
This video presentation has a filmic quality that doesn’t always lend itself to razor sharp images however resolution is excellent as both people and objects are rendered with clear definition that at times is meticulously resolved. The color palette isn’t a diverse one and sticks mainly to tamped down secondary hues with splashes of primary colors that render a cooler overall aesthetic that coincide with the film’s period specific elements. Flesh tones are on the bland side but fit right in with the visual style of the video. Contrast is bold which adds dynamic emphasis to sequences containing bright elements. Blacks are nice and deep which provides plenty of pop when onscreen with mixed content. Scenes containing uneven and/or dim lighting reveal discernible detail in shadowy backgrounds and darkened areas. Grain is readily apparent in varying levels that at times draw attention to it. Otherwise I found little to complain about and thought that this one looked great.
This is primarily a dialogue driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialogue is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to deliver the more active sequences as well as to recreate the acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional cues that effectively integrate with the front soundstage. This is an enriching audio presentation that mates well with the source material.
- Eye witness account: feature length picture-in-picture interactive in-movie experience – Interjected video commentary with real the life participants depicted in the film
- (HD) Audio commentary with director Ben Affleck & writer Chris Terrio
- (HD) Rescued from Tehran: We were there – 16 minute featurette
- (HD) Argo: Absolute authenticity – 11 minute featurette
- Escape from Iran: The Hollywood option – 46 minute 2005 documentary
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Based on true events, Argo is a captivating thriller that chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis-the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. It comes to Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack from Warner Home Video featuring gratifying and faithful high definition video quality, excellent lossless surround sound and an excellent supplemental offering that is highlighted by an informative picture-in-picture in-movie track. Not to be missed Argo on Blu-ray comes highly recommended.
Here is a video series on Argo:
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package