DVD Review HTF REVIEW: James Bond Ultimate Edition Vol. 4

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Cameron Yee, Feb 10, 2007.

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  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    James Bond Ultimate Edition Vol. 4
    Release Date: December 12, 2006
    Studio: MGM Studios
    Menus: Animated
    Packaging/Materials: Two-disc slim cases housed in a cardboard slipcase; six-page booklets for each title
    MSRP: $89.98

    Overall Score: 4/5
    Though the box set is not without its flaws and there is spirited debate about some of the framing and color choices on some titles (see this thread to learn more), it's hard not to recommend the release overall, especially for someone who does not own the previous versions. The DVDs and their packaging are nicely designed, there is an abundance of good to excellent special features, and picture and sound quality are on the whole quite impressive. Though the "ultimate" label might not hold up to scrutiny, most will find the box set a great addition to their DVD collection. So is it worth a double-dip for previous owners? That's a tougher call, but I would lean towards "yes," based on screencaps I've seen of previous versions. BUT in this age of HD, the sticklers would probably be wise to hold off in the hopes that the inevitable Blu-Ray version will truly deserve the "ultimate" designation.

    Continue reading for specifics on each title. To jump to a particular title, use the links below:


    Dr. No
    Year: 1962
    Rating: PG
    Running Time: 1h50m
    Video: 1.66:1 anamorphic
    Audio: English DTS Surround, English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Mono, French 5.1 Dolby Surround
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Thai
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English

    The Feature: 4/5
    James Bond (Sean Connery, in his inaugural portrayal) investigates the murder of British agents in Jamaica, leading him to the heavily guarded island of Crab Key run by the mysterious Dr. No.


    Video Quality: 4.5/5
    The film's generally high key cinematography lends itself to a rather remarkable transfer. Slight to minor edge haloing is detectable in only the most high contrast situations. Detail and texture are excellent - such as in the brushed felt of the casino table and the sandy beaches and dense jungle foliage of the islands - with wide shots suffering only slightly. The picture displays the full range of contrast, with solid black levels and deep and appealing color saturation (check out Sylvia Trench's red dress and Moneypenny's cobalt scarf). There is no dust, dirt or print damage, though there appears to be a couple missing frames from the scene where Bond first visits Strangway's office.


    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Purists should be pleased with the inclusion of the original mono audio track. I found the dialogue a bit harsh at times, though sound effects come through fine for the format. The DD5.1 and DTS mixes are mostly front and center speaker oriented, with some minor panning and localization among the triad. Dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible, though some of the accents necessitated a second listen to understand what was said. Surround effects are a kept to a minimum, those channels mostly used to provide environmental noises in crowds and parties. Though there are no instances of true LFE, bass activity is healthy and appropriate in car chase scenes and with various explosions. I could detect no appreciable difference between the DD5.1 and DTS tracks, so viewers should be happy selecting either.


    Special Features (Disc 1): 4.5/5

    Audio Commentary with Director Terence Young and Members of the Cast and Crew: John Cork of the Ian Fleming Foundation serves as the moderator/narrator for this collection of trivia and pre-recorded interview clips with cast and crew. It is tightly scripted and Cork is clearly reading, but the information is interesting and well chosen, with the interviews enhancing it. The "Dr. No" commentary is particularly interesting as cast and crew share various "origin stories" of things like the opening title sequence, film score and character portrayals - things which laid the groundwork for the subsequent films in the franchise.


    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5

    [Top Level Access]
    007: Licence to Restore - Lowry Digital Images Rejuvenates James Bond (11m55s): John Lowry, Founder and CEO of Lowry Digital Images, along with various staff give a brief glimpse behind the scenes of the company and of the Bond film restoration process. Interesting, but more promotional than informational.

    [Declassified: MI6 Vault]
    The Guns of James Bond (5m07s): Black-and-white BBC piece with gun enthusiast Jeffrey Boothroyd, who talks about the firearms used in the Bond stories and provides a few demonstrations.

    Premiere Bond: Opening Nights (13m08s): Producer Michael Wilson talks over various archival photographs and film from the Bond movie premieres. A nice walk down memory lane.

    Credits (1m23s): Production credits for the "MI6 Vault."


    [007 Mission Control]
    An interesting feature, giving random access to scenes around a particular character or theme, all in DD5.1 audio and enhanced for widescreen displays. Better than skipping through the feature disc? It depends. For fans of the opening title sequence (or Ursula Andress), this is an easy way to access those scenes. And obviously users aren't meant to watch all the clips, but only access their favorites; otherwise, why not just watch the feature disc? The one departure from simple clips from the film is the "Exotic Locations" item, which is a montage of film locales with narration by Maud Adams.


    [Mission Dossier]
    Inside "Dr. No" (42m05s): History of the film, featuring interviews with cast and crew and archival photos. Nicely produced, covering everything from how Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman teamed up to the creation of the iconic gun barrel opener. Though not exhaustive (details about the premiere and box office success are only mentioned), the documentary is still quite thorough, with varied and plentiful interviews and archival materials.

    Terence Young: Bond Vivant (17m55s): Biography of the Bond franchise's first director, touching on his pre-Bond films and his subsequent involvement with Saltzman and Broccoli. Much is said about Young's personal style, elegance and charm - qualities which he ultimately infused into the Bond character and traits we have come to expect in any Bond portrayal. A fitting tribute to a director who set the tone for all future Bond films.

    Dr. No 1963 Featurette (8m40s): Promotional artifact, hosted by a very un-Bondlike gentleman.


    [Ministry of Propaganda]
    Theatrical Archive (10m57s): Four theatrical trailers from a time when trailers tended to...trail. The third and fourth trailers promote double features of "Dr. No" with subsequent Bond films.

    TV Broadcasts (1m24s): Two TV spots promoting the double feature of "Dr. No" and "Goldfinger."

    Radio Communication (6m20s): Six radio spots promoting the film, the first mistakenly calling Andress's character "Honey Child."


    [Image Database]
    A large image gallery filled with the requisite mix of promotional stills, on-set shots, and advertising materials. While each film's gallery has a visual theme, I found this one the most appealing for its consistency with the film's title sequence.


    Title Recap

    The Feature: 4/5
    Video Quality: 4.5/5
    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Special Features (Disc 1): 4.5/5
    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5

    Though the special features are a bit modest compared to other films in the set, they can still be considered thorough. Outstanding picture and very good sound quality make "Dr. No" one of the highlights of the Volume 4 collection.

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    You Only Live Twice
    Year: 1967
    Rating: PG
    Running Time: 1h57m
    Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic
    Audio: English DTS Surround, English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Mono, French 5.1 Dolby Surround
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Thai
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English

    The Feature: 3/5
    James Bond (Sean Connery) investigates the hijacking of a United States space capsule and tries to prevent the world's superpowers from coming to blows.


    Video Quality: 2/5
    The below average transfer quality of "You Only Live Twice" is puzzling given the good to excellent transfers of the other titles. The gun barrel sequence suggests the picture (at least for that scene) is horizontally stretched, with the barrel opening more oval than round. Edge halos range from mild to moderate - heaviest in the scene where Bond and Tanaka first meet. Sharpness is also inconsistent, with medium to wide shots often looking quite soft and lacking in detail. On the other side of that coin, some shots look as though they've been run through too aggressive a sharpening filter, with strong contrast along edges and noise dirtying up the image. Black levels are generally good in the non-effect shots, but most of the time when blue screen is involved things get muddy. Elements used in optical effects are rather obviously degraded (e.g. the shot of Bond in bed just before the title sequence begins). I understand this is the nature of the beast, but this is the first of the Ultimate Edition Bond films in which I've seen it stand out so clearly. And I can't even say the picture was clear of damage as I spotted a scratch at the very end, when the submarine rises from the water with Bond's rescue raft.


    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Purists should be pleased by the inclusion of the original mono soundtrack, but I found its voices a bit edgy and the music sometimes shrill, especially when involving wind instruments. The DD5.1 and DTS tracks are more gentle on the ears by comparison, with the latter having a bit wider sound stage. Surround activity is more aggressive compared to "Dr. No" and other early Bond films, showing up to provide support to the film score and various ambient noises in settings like the harbor and secret SPECTRE base. The full audio system gets its greatest workout with the helicopter dogfight and finale, with directional and panning effects and deep bass explosions. Though no true LFE is present bass activity is full and impressive during scenes like the space capsule hijacking and the various super power rocket launches.


    Special Features (Disc 1): 4/5

    Audio Commentary Featuring Director Lewis Gilbert and Members of the Cast and Crew: Cork returns as moderator/narrator, using the same approach as in the previous title's commentary. After a slow start, which focuses on the backgrounds of a couple supporting players, the commentary hits its stride, once again providing an interesting mix of anecdotes and trivia from a variety of cast and crew.


    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5

    [Declassified: MI6 Vault]
    Welcome to Japan Mr. Bond (52m08s): Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny speculates about who Bond's first wife might be, while an unidentified actress attempts to garner the role in the next Bond film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Moneypenny also makes a brief departure into Q's lab to look at gadgets. 1967 made-for-television film promotion and franchise retrospective is "cute" with its involvement of Maxwell and Desmond Lewellyn, but the piece amounts to a clip show and is a bit odd for its mix of the fictional Bond world with the nonfictional film production one.

    Whicker's World - Highlights from 1967 BBC Documentary (5m21s): Whicker's World was a 1960s television program hosted by journalist Alan Whicker. An interesting, archival look behind the scenes, but it may have been more so if the complete piece had been included, other parts of which are used in the "Inside" documentary.

    On Location with Ken Adam (13m58s): Production Designer Adam talks over his personal footage from location scouting and production, providing some interesting anecdotes and recollections.

    Credits (1m22s): Production credits for the "MI6 Vault."


    [007 Mission Control]
    An interesting feature, giving random access to scenes around a particular character or theme, all in DD5.1 audio and enhanced for widescreen displays. Better than skipping through the feature disc? It depends. For fans of the opening title sequence, this is an easy way to access it (with and without the credits). And obviously users aren't meant to watch all the clips, but only access their favorites; otherwise, why not just watch the feature disc? The one departure from simple clips from the film is the "Exotic Locations" item, which is a montage of film locales with narration by Maud Adams.


    [Mission Dossier]
    Inside "You Only Live Twice" (30m21s): History of the film, featuring interviews with cast and crew and archival photos and film. Nicely produced, covering what seemed like a particularly challenging production with filming on location in Japan, camera operator Johnny Jordan's horrendous helicopter accident, and construction of the monstrous volcano crater set. Includes excerpts from the "Whicker's World" documentary.

    Silhouettes: The James Bond Titles (22m37s): The piece largely pays tribute to Maurice Binder and his iconic and innovative Bond title imagery. Includes a great moment with Sheena Easton recalling the "For Your Eyes Only" title shoot. The final moments cover the more recent title designs by Danny Kleinman and his efforts to maintain the spirit of his predecessor's work.

    Plane Crash: Animated Storyboard Sequence (1m37s): Cells from the storyboard sequence set to the Bond theme music.


    [Ministry of Propaganda]
    Theatrical Archive (8m52s): Three trailers, the first enhanced for widescreen; the third promotes a double feature of "You Only Live Twice" and "Thunderball."

    TV Broadcasts (57s): One TV spot promotes the "You Only Live Twice" and "Thunderball" double feature.

    Radio Communication (5m32s): Seven radio spots promoting the film and the double feature release.


    [Image Database]
    A modest sized image gallery filled with the requisite mix of promotional stills and on-set shots. Fans of Mie Hama and Lois Maxwell should be pleased by the "Glamor" section, which has the actresses posing in provocative body stockings.


    Title Recap

    The Feature: 3/5
    Video Quality: 2/5
    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Special Features (Disc 1): 4/5
    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 3/5

    Below average picture quality is the primary fault of "You Only Live Twice." Audio quality and special features are good to excellent and help to raise the overall score.

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    Moonraker
    Year: 1979
    Rating: PG
    Running Time: 2h01m
    Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic
    Audio: English DTS Surround, English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Surround
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Thai
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English

    The Feature: 4/5
    James Bond (Roger Moore) investigates the disappearance of the Moonraker space shuttle, taking him to Drax Industries in California then to Rio De Janeiro.


    Video Quality: 4/5
    The transfer gets off to a remarkable start with excellent contrast, black levels and sharpness, with nary a sign of edge halos, dust, dirt or print damage. The pre-credits skydiving scene is especially pleasing with its wide vistas and detail. The quality drops slightly in the rest of the film, with softness in wide shots in general and in the occasional medium shot. Still, these are relatively minor issues with a transfer that is overall quite good.


    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
    Purists should be pleased by the inclusion of the original Dolby Surround audio. While being lower in volume than the other tracks, it is nicely balanced, with clear and intelligible dialogue, nice diffusive surround effects, and good bass activity. The Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS tracks have the expected increase in volume, along with greater directionality and environmental presence (e.g. in hangars and other echoic areas) in the surround channels. Viewers should be pleased with either track, though those preferring a wider sound stage will appreciate the DTS track more. Overall, there's no going wrong with any of the audio choices.


    Special Features (Disc 1): 3/5

    Audio Commentary with Sir Roger Moore: Moore begins the commentary track by saying it's not so much a commentary as a "conversation." And this proves to be true, for better or worse, the casual nature of it standing in stark contrast to the highly structured and information heavy commentaries produced by John Cork. Moore does provide some interesting stories and recollections, but it's difficult staying engaged with the frequent audio gaps and Moore's tendency to react to on screen action.

    Audio Commentary Featuring Director Lewis Gilbert and Members of the Cast and Crew: The commentary actually includes no one from the cast, consisting of comments from Director Lewis Gilbert, Screenwriter Christopher Wood, Associate Producer William Cartlidge, and Executive Producer Michael G. Wilson. Cork merely introduces the track this time, allowing the four to share their memories and anecdotes in a group conversation format. It tends toward reactivity again, but there are some interesting stories and recollections, with some occasional moments of silence. Still, I missed the more structured approach that has been the norm for these Bond releases.


    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5

    [Declassified: MI6 Vault]
    007 in Rio - Original 1979 Production Featurette (12m45s): Promotional artifact offers the standard fare - locations, casting, and stunt sequences, using relatively lengthy clips throughout. The picture quality is particularly murky.

    Bond '79 (12m15s): Clips from cast and crew press interviews conducted during production. Includes comments from Lewis Gilbert, Albert Broccoli, Lois Chiles and Roger Moore.

    Ken Adam's Production Films (12m03s): Production Designer Adam talks over his personal footage from location scouting and production, providing some interesting anecdotes and recollections.

    Learning to Freefall - Sky Diving Test Footage (3m55s): With the test footage running, Producer Michael Wilson explains the genesis and technical requirements of the skydiving sequence. Interesting.

    Sky Diving Storyboards (1m21s): Cells from the storyboards edited in sequence and set to music and sound effects.

    Circus Footage (1m18s): Reconstruction of the original vision for Jaw's circus tent crash, using unused second unit footage of a tightrope act in action.

    Cable Car Alternative - Storyboard 1 (1m23s): The original concept for the end of the cable car fight, which had Jaws's girlfriend as tall and big as he. Cells from the storyboard are edited and set to music and sound effects, with some actual film footage intercut.

    Cable Car Alternative - Storyboard 2 (2m09s): The original concept for the cable car scene, which did not have the tussle between Jaws and Bond on top of the car. Cells from the storyboard are edited and set to music and sound effects, with some actual film footage intercut.

    Credits (1m21s): Production credits for the "MI6 Vault."


    [007 Mission Control]
    An interesting feature, giving random access to scenes around a particular character or theme, all in DD5.1 audio and enhanced for widescreen displays. Better than skipping through the feature disc? It depends. For fans of the opening title sequence (with and without text), this is an easy way to access it. And obviously users aren't meant to watch all the clips, but only access their favorites; otherwise, why not just watch the feature disc? The one departure from simple clips from the film is the "Exotic Locations" item, which is a montage of film locales with narration by Maud Adams.


    [Mission Dossier]
    Inside "Inside Moonraker" - An Original Documentary (41m59s): History of the film, featuring interviews with cast and crew and archival photos and film. Much time is spent on the stunts and special effects - understandable given the "out of this world" ambitions of the filmmakers. Most astounding is how they did the space sequences by making multiple, in-camera passes over the same piece of film (for the finale it reached over 80 passes!).

    The Men Behind the Mayhem - Special Effects Documentary (18m59s): A look at the special effects of the Bond franchise, from explosions to optical effects to miniatures. Special tribute is paid to Bond alumni John Stears and Derek Meddings.


    [Ministry of Propaganda]
    Release Trailer (3m46s): Matted widescreen.


    [Image Database]
    A modest image gallery with the requisite mix of promotional stills, on-set shots, and advertising materials.


    Title Recap

    The Feature: 4/5
    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
    Special Features (Disc 1): 3/5
    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

    The most "out there" Bond film (up to that point) has its particular charm and gets a very good audio and video transfer.

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    Octopussy
    Year: 1983
    Rating: PG
    Running Time: 2h11m
    Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic
    Audio: English DTS Surround, English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Surround
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Thai
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English

    The Feature: 3/5
    James Bond (Roger Moore) investigates a jewelry smuggling ring headed by the mysterious Octopussy (Maud Adams).


    Video Quality: 4/5
    Moderate edge halos are the chief complaint with the transfer, but otherwise it has very good sharpness and detail (check out the texture on the fake horse's ass). Only a few wide shots suffer from a drop in equivalent quality. Contrast, color and black level are generally excellent, all three at their best in the title sequence, with its dramatic lighting, and mixture of multi and monochromatic images. Finally, there are two instances - one being Bond's briefing in M's office - where the contrast range seems to be compacted, creating a picture that is more "contrasty" and saturated than the rest of the film.


    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
    Purists should be pleased by the inclusion of the original Dolby Surround audio. While being lower in volume than the other tracks, it is nicely balanced, with clear and intelligible dialogue, nice diffusive surround effects, and good bass activity. The Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS tracks have the expected increase in volume, expansion of the sound stage, and increased directionality (e.g. gunfire) and environmental ambience (e.g. the Soviet military chamber) in the surround channels. The pre-title sequence with the mini jet gives the entire audio system a workout with aggressive panning effects and explosions and viewers are effectively immersed in the sound and fury of locomotion during the train fight scene. Overall, viewers should be pleased with either the DD5.1 or DTS track, though those preferring a more expansive sound field will prefer the latter. Overall, there's no going wrong with any of the audio choices.


    Special Features (Disc 1): 4/5

    Audio Commentary with Sir Roger Moore: Moore begins the commentary track by saying it's not so much a commentary as a "discussion." And this proves to be true, for better or worse, the casual nature of it standing in stark contrast to the highly structured and information heavy commentaries produced by John Cork. Moore does provide some interesting stories and recollections - including his thoughts on Sean Connery's "Never Say Never Again," which was filmed the same year as "Octopussy" - but it's difficult staying engaged with the frequent audio gaps and Moore's tendency to react to on screen action.

    Audio Commentary Featuring John Glen and Actors: Director Glen gets the commentary all too himself (despite the menu stating otherwise) and he does a great job. There are the occasional audio gaps, but he stays on course, offering an interesting and entertaining blend of anecdotes, background info and technical insights.


    Special Features (Disc 2): 3.5/5

    [Declassified: MI6 Vault]
    Shooting Stunts Part 1: Crashing Jeeps (3m48s): Director John Glen provides commentary over unedited takes of motorcycle and jeep crashes shot for the pre-title sequence. Enhanced for widescreen.

    Shooting Stunts Part 2: The Airplane Crash (3m25s): Glen comments on unedited takes of the finale's plane crash sequence. Enhanced for widescreen.

    Ken Burns On-Set Movie (6m40s): Burns, one of the extras who played an East German border guard, comments on his personal footage from production, which mainly shows the car and train stunt. Only 16 years old at the time, Burns also offers some thoughts on being an extra for a high profile film.

    On Location with Peter Lamont (4m44s): Production Designer Peter Lamont comments on location scouting footage, which includes views of Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall.

    Testing the Limits - The Aerial Team (4m31s): Glen comments on footage of the team working on various aerial stunts for the finale.

    James Brolin Original Screen Tests: Includes four segments totaling over 11 minutes. The first segment is an interview with Brolin, in which he describes the screen test process and shares his memories of being considered to play Bond. The subsequent segments include original screentest footage of a fight scene, a "From Russia With Love" romantic scene with Maud Adams, and a scene from "Octopussy."

    James Bond in India - Original 1983 Featurette (29m24s): Loosely structured and leisurely paced documentary of being on location in India.

    Credits (1m28s): Production credits for the "MI6 Vault."


    [007 Mission Control]
    An interesting feature, giving random access to scenes around a particular character or theme, all in DD5.1 audio and enhanced for widescreen displays. Better than skipping through the feature disc? It depends. For fans of the opening title sequence (with and without text), this is an easy way to access it. And obviously users aren't meant to watch all the clips, but only access their favorites; otherwise, why not just watch the feature disc? The one departure from simple clips from the film is the "Exotic Locations" item, which is a montage of film locales with narration by Maud Adams.


    [Mission Dossier]
    Inside "Octopussy" (33m05s): Brief history of the film, featuring interviews with cast and crew and archival photos and film. The piece moves rather swiftly, never lingering too long on any particular topic, though stunt man Martin Grace's horrendous accident (he hit a concrete stanchion while hanging off a train car) and his bravery is given its due.

    Designing Bond - Peter Lamont (20m57s): A look at Lamont's outstanding career, which started by working as a draftsman for the "Goldfinger" production design team. Lamont won an Academy Award for his work on "Titanic" and continues as production designer for the newest Daniel Craig Bond films.

    "All Time High" Music Video (3m03s): Matted widescreen.

    Storyboard Sequences - The Taxi Chase (3m34s): Original storyboards for the taxi chase scene, with actual footage replacing missing cells. Complete with sound effects and music cues.

    Storyboard Sequences - Bond Rescues Octopussy (3m21s): Original storyboards for the airplane chase finale, with actual footage replacing missing cells. Complete with sound effects and music cues.


    [Ministry of Propaganda]
    Theatrical Archive (8m33s): Four trailers with varying themes. Matted widescreen.


    [Image Database]
    Large image gallery with the requisite mix of promotional stills, on-set shots, and advertising materials.


    Title Recap

    The Feature: 3/5
    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
    Special Features (Disc 1): 4/5
    Special Features (Disc 2): 3.5/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

    One of the more average Bond films (though certainly not the worst) gets fine treatment with a very good audio and video transfer and respectable set of extras.

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    Tomorrow Never Dies
    Year: 1997
    Rating: PG-13
    Running Time: 1h59m
    Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic
    Audio: English DTS Surround, English 5.1 Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Surround
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Thai
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English

    The Feature: 3.5 /5
    James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) must stop Great Britain and China from going to war by ferreting out those responsible for sinking a British Navy frigate.


    Video Quality: 4/5
    The newest Bond film in the set displays mild edge halos in the most high contrast situations. Detail in close ups is generally excellent, with remarkable skin and hair texture, particularly in the pre-title sequence. Wide shots and some medium shots tend to lack equivalent quality however. Black level and contrast are consistently very good, with colors tending to be more muted than bold and saturated like earlier Bond films. There is no dust, dirt or print damage.


    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
    Though previous set titles have included excellent 5.1 audio conversions, the .1 LFE tends to be the missing piece most of the time. With this more recent Bond film we finally get explosions with seat-rumbling low frequencies. The DTS track seems to be more robust in this regard, as well as more detailed in the higher frequency sound effects like whooshing missiles and fighter jets, making it the preferred audio option. Dialog is consistently clear and intelligible and surround effects in general are both natural for on-screen activity and supportive and unobtrusive when required. Overall a great mix.


    Special Features (Disc 1): 4.5/5

    Audio Commentary Featuring Roger Spottiswoode and Dan Petrie, Jr.: Petrie, a friend and colleague of Spottiswoode's, helps make the commentary one of the most accessible and informative ones in the set. He asks excellent follow-up questions and has obvious consideration for listeners unfamiliar with industry jargon, shedding light not only on the "Tomorrow Never Dies" production but on film production in general. Spottiswoode alone would have provided an interesting commentary, but with Petrie the commentary is that much better.

    Audio Commentary Featuring Vic Armstrong and Michael G. Wilson: Armstrong and Wilson provide a looser, less focused commentary, that sometimes lapses into the two just trading memories. If listeners don't mind the "hanging out" vibe then they'll probably find some interesting nuggets of information.

    Isolated Music Score: Fans of Composer David Arnold should be pleased by this rare feature. In Dolby Digital 2.0.


    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5

    [Declassified: MI6 Vault]
    Deleted and Extended Scenes Introduced by Director Roger Spottiswoode (13m55s): Each scene is introduced by Spottiswoode; most are forgettable except for Ricky Jaye's card throwing bit. Enhanced for widescreen.

    Expanded Angles Introduced by Director Roger Spottiswoode (12m12s): Makes use of the multi-angle feature, allowing the user to switch between the original cut and unused footage of the same scene. A third video track puts all angles together in a multi-frame layout. The scenes featured are of the remote control car chase and the arms deal bust. I wasn't a big fan of this feature previously, but I have to admit it's an interesting look at editing decisions if one has the motivation to look through the scene cut by cut.

    Highly Classified: The World of 007 (57m44s): Desmond Llewelyn, in character as Q, hosts this promotional documentary that looks at various pieces of the production, including the fighter plane chase, creation of the title sequence, storyboards and music, major and supporting characters, and physical stunts, costumes and gadgets. While being an extensive look at the film, Llewelyn's measured delivery and wordy, espionage themed script makes the piece longer than it should be.

    "The James Bond Theme" (Moby's Re-Version) (5m30s): Music video featuring Moby's re-mix of the Bond theme and lots of shots of him running.

    Credits (1m16s): Production credits for the "MI6 Vault."


    [007 Mission Control]
    An interesting feature, giving random access to scenes around a particular character or theme, all in DD5.1 audio and enhanced for widescreen displays. Better than skipping through the feature disc? It depends. For fans of the opening title sequence (with and without text), this is an easy way to access it, though the editing is rather sloppy at the end of it. And obviously users aren't meant to watch all the clips, but only access their favorites; otherwise, why not just watch the feature disc? The one departure from simple clips from the film is the "Exotic Locations" item, which is a montage of film locales with narration by Samantha Bond.


    [Mission Dossier]
    The Secrets of 007 (44m34s): Peter Coyote narrates a 35th anniversary retrospective on the Bond franchise and promotion for "Tomorrow Never Dies." After going through all the special features offered in the Ultimate Edition discs, much of the piece feels like a retread, but it's not a bad way to revisit the franchise's highlights (up to 1997).

    Storyboard Presentation (27m39s): Nine scenes with storyboard cells overlayed on to the picture. An interesting and effective approach to comparing storyboards with actual scenes.

    Special FX Reel (2m53s): Montage of green screen footage, original camera footage and resulting composites, along with physical stunt footage, set to Moby's re-mixed Bond theme.

    Gadgets: Profiles on the Sea Vac, BMW and Bond's phone.

    Interview with Composer David Arnold (2m37s): Appears to be a portion of the music segment from the "Highly Classified" documentary.

    "Tomorrow Never Dies" Music Video Performed by Sheryl Crow (4m30s): Matted widescreen.


    [Ministry of Propaganda]
    Theatrical Archive (3m32s): Two theatrical trailers, the first a teaser and enhanced for widescreen. The second is matted widescreen.


    [Image Database]
    A large gallery with the requisite mix of promotional stills, on-set shots and advertising materials.


    Title Recap

    The Feature: 3.5/5
    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 4.5/5
    Special Features (Disc 1): 4.5/5
    Special Features (Disc 2): 4/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

    The most recent Bond film in the set has great picture and sound, very good commentary tracks and a respectable set of special features.

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    Equipment: Toshiba 42" CRT RPTV fed a 1080i signal from an Oppo DV-971 DVD player. Audio evaluation is based on an Onkyo TX-SR575x 5.1 AVR running JBL S26 mains and surrounds, JBL S-Center, and BFD-equalized SVS 20-39 PCi subwoofer.
     
  2. PeterTHX

    PeterTHX Cinematographer

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    Actually "Moonraker" and "Octopussy" had 70MM prints so the original audio was 4.2 (L-C-R-S-Baby Boom 1 & 2), the Dolby Stereo would represent either a different mix or a mixdown of these soundtracks. Fox has presented a few titles this way, a 5.1 remix and a 4.0 or 4.1 seperate version.
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
    Reviewer

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    Thanks for the clarification.
     
  4. Frank@N

    Frank@N Screenwriter

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    With regards to YOLT, would anyone recommend keeping the SE due to lacking UE PQ?
     
  5. Jim-M

    Jim-M Second Unit

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    I found the PQ on the UE of YOLT to be superior to the SE. So while it may not rate an absolute high score for PQ, its relative score compared to the SE would be much higher.
     

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