Kingsman: The Golden Circle 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Mountain Momma

Kingsman’s sequel moves from suave, British cool action into a deliriously kooky, inherently phony adult cartoon celebrating casual violence. It works.

Golden Circle acts like a Chuck Jones work, albeit with an adult slant. For a time, Golden Circle lampoons Bond’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The rest is ballooned and inane, even stupid, but so fetching in its gunplay, Golden Circle manages to work.

Taron Egerton returns, opening Golden Circle with an in-cab fight against a man with a robot arm. Matthew Vaughn directs, sending his camera careening around the choreography, positively dizzying as the lens leaves through windows and juts back in. Egerton falls out, rides on a detached door, and somehow survives. That’s Golden Circle’s open. It turns wackier from there.

Kingsman had an eye on America’s deep south. Arguably Kingsman’s memorable sequence came as Colin Firth wrecked an entire congregation of religious cultists. That’s not subtle. Neither is Golden Circle.

It features the aesthetic of Saturday mornings and embraces rather than hides from that unreality

Although Julianne Moore serves as antagonist – a South American drug pusher with a glitzy ‘50s fetish – the true villain is the American president. Locked in the oval office, fed Fox News on a 24-hour cycle, and delighted at the thought of cancelling out America’s drug war, Golden Circle blasts the lack of civic empathy on the right. Bruce Dern’s president is slick. He’s not manic, but positive that letting all drug users perish is right for America. Pleading from Dern’s secretary about casual and medical users goes unheard. It’s a plea for American entitlements at a time when their effects slide from budget cuts.

This comes in a movie with angry robot dogs, robot hairdressers, and Elton John dropkicking a kidnapper. Golden Circle has puppies. It has sex. It has piles of R-rated language. It uses violence as the sole outlet. It features the aesthetic of Saturday mornings and embraces rather than hides from that unreality. And yet, finds the means to distill this down to an requiem for drug prohibition.

Being so busy – that’s where the bloating comes from. Although clever cameo roles spring up regularly, Golden Circle limps through a middle act, battling a character death from the first Kingsman, needing to justify the revival. Expansion of Kingsman’s lore spreads the concept to an American ally. They lack the dress but adore booze, making the combination a winner, along with the rest of Golden Circle.

Video (4K UHD)

Finished at 2K, Fox’s disc still stacks up. In terms of texture, Golden Circle impresses despite a tinge of native softness. Facial definition stirs throughout, with notably hokey establishing shots. Their digital qualities stand out on UHD, adding to the surreal delight.

Digital cinematography stays clean despite the overworked CG side. A hint of noise inside a padded room isn’t worth any ire. Some noise clean-up is likely what leads to a smoothed end result during erratic pans. The opening brawl inside a cab looks artificial, and not just for the computer effects.

Luckily, HDR overcomes any of those faults. Deep color spreads a wide array of primaries, especially when inside Moore’s stronghold. Coca-Cola reds and other similar elements beautifully saturate. Specific scenes do lean cool or warm, but most embrace a wide palette. Elton John’s costumes provide enough pop to justify this disc.

Paired with superlative black levels and attention to shadow detail, Golden Circle doubles up on depth. Dark suits worn by Kingsmen display crisp, sharp definition even in darker situations. It’s easy to spot texture, lines, and other high-grade touches on their wear. Rich highlights balance out, gleaming from the excessive chrome inside Moore’s hideout or the sparkling, reflective wear of Elton John. The same goes for lights dotting cities at night and a handful of explosions.

Video (Blu-ray)

A bevy of fine detail highlights the 1080p edition, matching in terms of close-ups and exteriors. Clean digitally sourced images stay consistent throughout. Minimal noise impacts the disc, held in check from a strong encode on the part of Fox.

If there’s a downfall, it’s black levels. Opening scenes take place in murky grays rather than true shadows. There’s enough contrast to see Golden Circle to the final moments, but the loss of density is a bother. At least contrast holds firm.

Audio

Fox cheats Blu-ray users with a DTS-HD 7.1 mix, offering Atmos on the UHD. This trend is indefensible.

Either mix will suffice, although placement inside the Atmos track audibly offers superiority. Gunfire springs up from all directions, gleefully so in any shoot-out. Stuck inside a cabin as enemies close in, Kingsmen endure a stream of bullets and ambient wood shattering. Trying to match the church assault of the first Kingsman, a late third act gunfire trade-off whips around effortlessly, matching the wild 360 degree camerawork with class.

What’s missing is matching LFE. Even the largest guns barely register while explosions rumble, but only at a passable weight. A setpiece on a ski lift features a tower crashing down. The thud uses the minimum to accentuate scale.

Extras

Inside the Golden Circle contains nine separate featurettes, combined into one two-hour documentary. Although a few seem superfluous (Elton John is given an entire segment), the rest delve deep into the ideas, concepts, and executions of this difficult shoot. Oddly, Black Cab Chaos is a separate featurette, but in the same style. This 13-minute piece focuses on the opening fight. Some art, stills, and trailers round out this Blu-ray. Note the UHD holds no bonuses.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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