The Movie: 9/10
Quality is a word that gets thrown around a lot. The thing about pointing it at movies is that it’s so subjective, or is it? When I say something is HIGH quality, like Bridge of Spies, it comes with a short list of specific tangible elements. First, and most obvious to me (for better or worse) is set direction and wardrobe. I know, it’s superficial, but it is what you are looking at, so it’s kind of obvious. When Steven Spielberg makes a movie I get a very strong feeling he trusts the best, semi-obsessive people to do his research and period designs when he takes us back in time. I was lost in the time and that sets the mood for sure. Every scene, every set, the lighting, the colors, the weather, the architecture, and the clothes. I was convinced.
The next thing that you can point the high quality dial to in Bridge of Spies is the dialogue. There are movies that are epic and amazing and still have that weird unnatural aspect to the way people talk to each other. In this movie it felt right, sounded right, felt like honest conversations and observations by the characters. This is a huge thing for such a dramatic story. Without the foundation of good relationships and interactions even the best story can feel empty.
The final thing that grounds Bridge of Spies in the High Quality garden of this movie season is the story and the choices the characters make. I know it’s based on a true story so it has a framework to go with that needs some reality woven in, but it is still a Hollywood movie made by a director who has brought us space ships and dinosaurs:) Our leading man is put in a position to be the lawyer for a suspected spy during the “Cold War” with the Soviet Union. He is a reserved, controlled, nearly unbiased man who is written and played in a way that makes perfect sense, and yet has a certain surprising moments throughout the movie. This is down to the writing, the directing, the performance, all of it adds up to such a solid person to follow throw some intrigue and drama. He needs to secure the trade of this supposed spy and Americans held in the USSR and Germany, which might sound like a pretty straight forward thing, and in some movies they might take the low road to make it more of a big TADA kind of thing, but not this time. Our man doesn’t showboat or take a big obvious stand and there are no unnecessary “hero moments” to distract from the quiet dignity of this man and his job at hand.
The entire cast is incredible. I am not good at remembering people’s’ names, so I’ll have to say the lawyer, the wife, the Russian, the German, the other Russian, the American student, all amazingly fold into the story and the time seamlessly. The music is right. The intangibles all add up too, like the “vibe”, the feel, the pace, the level of information given that could feel like too much political hoo-haa, but it’s balanced just right and always comes back to focus on the task at hand, one man cutting through the bullshit to accomplish something in the middle of a storm of chaos and paranoia and fear and danger.
High quality, entertaining, intriguing, thought-provoking, inspiring, all wrapped up in one movie. Good stuff.
- A Case Of The Cold War: Bridge Of Spies (17 Minutes) – Director Steven Spielberg talks about his father and his part in the cold war. This leads to a making of piece that is very respectful and chock full of detail.
- U-2 Spy Plane (9 Minutes) – A look at the amazing U-2 plane sequence from the movie, which leads into a look at the real plane.
- Berlin 1961: Recreating The Divide (12 Minutes) – The Berlin Wall plays a big role in the movie and here we see what it takes to build a recreation of it.
- Spy Swap: Looking Back On The Final Act (6 minutes) – A very short look at the final act of the movie, it’s the part of the movie where you realize why this is called Bridge of spies.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art: 5/10
The cover does its job, but it’s not something I would have on a poster in my house.
Audio & Video: 10/10
Touchstone/Disney have pulled out all the stops with this fantastic looking AVC 1080P transfer of Bridge Of Spies. Supervised by Director Steven Spielberg this is as close to the theatrical version as you will ever get. Janusz Kaminski’s Cinematography is always incredible and here the shadow and light at play really comes to life. Filmed using real film grain is preserved and fine detail is extremely high. This is a stunning looking movie that will live on for years to come in the best possible quality on Blu-Ray.
DTS-HD Master 7.1 Audio is the codec of choice here. Bridge Of Spies is such a well made movie that the sound here is subtle and engaging. Action fans might want to look elsewhere but the U-2 spy plane sequence about half way through the movie is an incredible lesson in surround sound design. Surround sound is very well done using the rear speakers for music and ambient sounds when necessary. Dialog is central focused and never muffled. Obviously Spielberg is at the top of his game here and this movie really shows that.
Overall Score 9/10