Bond's latest blockbuster hits Blu-ray soon - are you ready for a view to an HD thrill?

When 007's latest mission goes awry, M finds herself under threat from forces both at home (an inquiry into her role in the mission's failure) and abroad (a mysterious terrorist with a personal vendetta) in this 23rd outing in the continuing adventures of Britain's favourite secret agent.

After the brilliant Casino Royale and the middling Quantum of Solace, the franchise owners clearly needed to do something very special for Daniel Craig's third outing as 007 – especially as it was being released in conjunction with the series' 50th anniversary.

Thankfully, what they've cooked up is a great addition to the Bond franchise – both a celebration and reinvention of elements from the past, and a modern tale that points towards any number of exciting futures for the series.

Is the highest-grossing Bond film ever also the best of the lot? Well, that's arguable. But it's still a supremely enjoyable slice of spy action that will stand the test of time much better than many of its predecessors. Yes, Octopussy, we're looking at you...

Picture: From the moment that 007 steps up to the camera in Skyfall's opening shot – with a shaft of light carefully picking out each eyelash and wrinkle on Daniel Craig's face – it's clear that this Blu-ray encode has a licence to thrill.

Yet the AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode on MGM/Fox's platter doesn't only dazzle when it comes to its sophisticated fine detailing. Colour reproduction is impressive, with primaries looking incredibly vibrant and vivid – especially when they're contrasted with the image's clandestine inky blacks, such as Bond's arrival at the lantern-lit Shanghai casino in Chapter 14. 

Clarity and delineation is also first-rate, as evidenced by 007's fight with the assassin Patrice in Chapter 12. The silhouettes of the two combatants are suitably crisp as they're framed against the gaudy LED advertising playing out on the skyscraper behind them. While shot digitally, Skyfall avoids any artificial sheen and looks 'filmic' throughout. 

Make no mistake about it – Skyfall's AVC encode is a stunner. You'll be using this disc to showcase your setup for some time to come.
Picture rating:  5/5

Audio: While not offering the wall-to-wall action of some the Brosnan-era Bond films, Skyfall delivers an awesome DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes that'll leave you both shaken and stirred.

Things get off to a spectacular start, with the movie's rooftop motorcycle chase and train shoot-out providing a wealth of bombastic surround sound effects and impactful bass. But even when things then settle down a bit, the mix still impresses with the expansive and 'lived-in' feeling that it gives to the film's various locations.

Dialogue is equally well-presented, with just as much clarity and precision as the more spectacular action sequences. The handling of Thomas Newman's soaring score is terrific in its tonal range and careful inflection, providing the final icing to this Blu-ray cake.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: There are enough bonus bits here to keep Bond-hedz happy while waiting for the next installment. Director Sam Mendes sits down by himself for the first of two commentary tracks, and while it's a shame that we don't get to hear from any of the cast, Mendes provides a detailed and informative account of the film's production, and is quite honest in his thoughts as a filmmaker. (Of the Komodo dragon scene he says, 'That was not something I'd done before, which is stage a sequence around a computer-generated animal… And it made me… How can I say this? Not want to do blue screen pictures.')

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson are joined by production designer Dennis Gassner for the other commentary. This track doesn't flow quite as freely – but it still finds time to address some issues and questions surrounding the production ('It's not a shotgun, it's a .50 caliber hunting rifle… Huge difference, Quite a different weapon,' says Wilson - seemingly in response to one of the criticisms from own Richard Stevenson in his column in HCC #216).

The other major extra is Shooting Bond, a 14-part look at the making of the movie that runs for just short of an hour. As you can probably guess from that running time, we're not talking about a massively in-depth affair. However, it still covers most of the pertinent areas that you'd hope to see discussed (Opening Sequence, Women, Villains, Action, etc), is packed with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, and serves up some amusing anecdotes (such as director of photography Roger Deakins recounting how the downdraft from a helicopter blew the false teeth out of Javier Bardem's mouth during the shooting of one scene).

Rounding things off are red carpet interviews from the film's London premiere, the theatrical trailer and a promo spot for the soundtrack album. The Blu-ray also ships with a (NTSC) DVD and Digital Copy of the movie.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: The biggest Bond film ever delivers a sensational home cinema experience on Blu-ray. Unmissable.

MGM/20th Century Fox, Region B BD/R2 DVD, £25 Approx, On sale February 18