Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Never Say Never Again

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Never Say Never Again

    Release Date: March 24, 2009
    Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
    Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case
    Year: 1983
    Rating: PG-13
    Running Time: 2h14m
    MSRP: $34.99

    MAIN FEATURESPECIAL FEATURES
    Video1080p high definition 16x9 2.35:1Standard definition
    AudioDTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: English 2.1, Spanish Mono, French MonoStereo
    SubtitlesEnglish SDH, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, ThaiNone


    The Feature: 2.5/5
    "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

    I'm sure entertainment attorney Jack Schwartzman (late husband of actress Talia Shire) was offered this adage many times when he decided to remake Ian Fleming's novel "Thunderball". Indeed, it's hard to fathom the motivation - let alone the sheer guts it would require - to tell a story that had already been made into a film (1965's "Thunderball") by an established and influential company like Eon Productions, longtime producers of all films Bond. But Schwartzman did it - not only getting the film made (thanks to an "arcane licensing loophole") but getting Sean Connery to reprise his role as Bond in a story that he had already done. When "Never Say Never Again" came out it had been 12 years since Connery left the franchise and 18 years since he'd starred in "Thunderball".

    Not suprisingly, the production was filled with problems. Schwartzman's rights to produce were, of course, legally contested, so most of his time was spent in court rather than on set. There were also problems with Lorenzo Semple's script (which deals with SPECTRE stealing two nuclear warheads and extorting the world of billions) and required the help of two uncredited script doctors, Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement, to rectify its inconsistent dialogue and story. Kim Basinger, who played the character of Domino, also clashed with Director Irvin Kershner (though by all accounts Connery was a good sport through it all).

    The movie itself, divorced from its troubled history and reputation, starts off decent but ends up dull. The film's plodding pace and overlong run time lead to a final act we're just waiting to have wrapped up. Connery, however, looking a little gray around the edges, returns to Bond quite comfortably, though Basinger never seems to achieve the same level of confidence. In contrast, Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush is almost too confident, chewing up the scenery in a way that made me realize where Famke Janssen probably got her inspiration for Xenia Onatopp in "GoldenEye". Klaus Maria Brandauer as the villain Largo is a convincing foil to Connery's Bond, though his comeuppance in the finale is ultimately a disappointment.

    But in the end it seems the tremendous legal concerns were the film's undoing, rather than anything to do with the production itself. Since the remake couldn't bear any resemblance to the movie "Thunderball", everything had to come from the novel and be rubberstamped by lawyers, which squashed the filmmakers' creative process and complicated the production's practical needs. Though Schwartzman obviously had high hopes for the film, in the final analysis, it really only amounts to an interesting footnote in recent film and Bond history, known mostly for what it tried to do rather than what it actually accomplished.


    Video Quality: 4/5
    The film is accurately framed at 2.35:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. Colors in a somewhat muted palette show satisfying depth and fidelity. Blacks are deep and inky and contrast is quite good overall, with maybe only a few instances where things seem a touch flat or dull. Fine object detail is very good, strands of hair and skin texture standing out in their clarity, though overall sharpness can vary depending on whether 1980s-era effects are in use. Grain increases and sharpness takes a dip in those instances (which includes the film's title sequence), but as it's source related it's ultimately a credit to the transfer for being so revealing. Grain in general appears preserved with no signs of noise reduction.


    Audio Quality: 3/5
    The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is heavily front loaded, with activity often being quite concentrated toward the center. Surround activity is inconsistent, at some points providing noticeable support for the film score or with panning effects, but at others seeming to disappear entirely. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible, but can sound a little granular at times. LFE is non-existent, but a few moments indicate the track has good depth and dynamic range.


    Special Features: 3/5
    The extras, while not plentiful, are thorough, covering major points of interest with little deviation. All video pieces are in standard definition.

    Commentary with Director Irvin Kershner and Bond historian Steven Jay Rubin: Rubin mostly serves the role as interviewer but has an impressive knowledge of the franchise. Kershner tends toward scene description when not being re-directed by Rubin, but holds nothing back when asked about the problematic parts of the film.

    "The Big Gamble" (16m24s): Kershner, Shire, Schwartzman's son John, Carrera, La Frenais, Clement and Semple offer some rather candid comments and memories about the troubled production.

    "Sean Is Back" (8m04s): Cast and crew talk about working with Connery and offer him their highest compliments.

    "The Girls of Never Say Never Again" (10m07s): Basinger is noticeably absent, though Kershner and Carerra offer some thoughts about her. Other interviewed include Pamela Salem (Miss Moneypenny) and Valerie Leon (the "Bahamas Lady").

    Theatrical Trailer (1m27s) Framed at 1.33:1.

    Photo Gallery (3m12s): Sixty-two images playable as a three-minute slide show.


    Recap

    The Feature: 2.5/5
    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 3/5
    Special Features: 3/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 3/5

    The "maverick" Bond film known more for what it attempted than what it got right, gets a very good video transfer, decent audio treatment and a thorough special features package.
     
  2. MattFini

    MattFini Supporting Actor

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    Cool! This movie isn't great, but I remember enjoying it as a kid.

    I got this Blu-ray and I'll be revisiting it again this weekend. Thanks for the good review.
     
  3. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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  4. Gary Miller

    Gary Miller Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't comment on the video, audio or special features, but your summation of the film itself nails it. Great work, Cameron.
     
  5. Osato

    Osato Producer

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    Thanks for the review! Target has a great price on this blu ray this week. $15
     
  6. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

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    I pretty much enjoyed this Bond film when it was originally released in the theatres. I certainly enjoyed it much more than MGM's offering "Octopussy" which came out that same summer of '83. Glad to hear that the disc is good as I will be picking this up. [​IMG]
     
  7. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Yeah, it was, aesthetically, the defacto winner in the battle of the Bonds. Of course, that's not unlike pointing out the healthiest patient in intensive care or the fastest three legged horse, but a win is a win. [​IMG]

    "Octopussy" was a real disappointment coming on the heels of "For Your Eyes Only". "Never Say Never Again" was at least an interesting curiosity.

    Regards,
     
  8. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    I always liked this film. And, after all, Connery IS Bond, no argument.

    My all-time-favourite Bond is still From Russia With Love, but this one fits in nicely, and the sample joke (insiders know what I'm referring to) has continued to be a good one.

    Thanks for the review, Cameron, even if I personally rate the Feature a bit higher. [​IMG]
    This BD disc is mine.


    Cees
     
  9. Ray_R

    Ray_R Screenwriter

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    Along with Cees this Blu-ray disc/title will be mine, eventually. I've always liked it and have been meaning to be getting around to purchasing the DVD. Even though I don't own a BD player yet, might as well take the plunge.
    Great non-EON OO7 film. I wonder what WARHEAD might've been like? I still say Lazenby should've had another crack at Bond, perhaps with a video game?
     
  10. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I was impressed with this disc. And I've come to like the movie itself a lot more as well. It's quite underrated.
     
  11. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    My 2nd favorite Bond from the 80's but that's not saying much. I enjoy this alternate take on Bond but it's just too similar to the superior Thunderball.

    I'm waiting for a good sale price ($15 or under) on this and TWINE.
     
  12. ATimson

    ATimson Second Unit

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    Don't know about NSNA, but TWINE is on sale for $15 at Target through today.
     
  13. ATimson

    ATimson Second Unit

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    Don't know about NSNA, but TWINE is on sale for $15 at Target through today.
     
  14. Michael Warner

    Michael Warner Supporting Actor

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    Um, that would be now. Target and Amazon have them for $14.99 each but only until the end of the day Saturday.
     
  15. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    I guess today is my lucky day then. thanks for the heads up.
     
  16. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the heads up on Target. I got it today. They only had NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, the others were sold out.
     

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