Die Another Day
Film Length: 132 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.40:1)
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Although Ian Fleming's James Bond novels first
appeared in the 1950's, it was not until the Bond
films hit the big screen in 1962's Dr. No
that the figure of James Bond 007 became famous.
Since then, James Bond has become one of the most
enduring and beloved fictional characters of all
Ever since I was a teen, I have been a huge fan
of James Bond. My very first Bond film was The
Spy Who Loved Me, and for quite some time, it
was actor Roger Moore that I most closely identified
as the 007 agent, long before I discovered Sean
Connery. Over the past four decades the faces of
James Bond have changed (Connery, Moore, Lazenby,
Dalton, Brosnan) and we have watched the series
adapt to changing times without abandoning its
original ideas and formulas.
Let me give you my capsuled review: In Die Another
Day we find James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) in North
Korea, where he must stop a planned advance. Upon
returning back to England and moving on to Havana
he meets the beautiful Jinx (Halle Berry), who helps him
to track down billionaire bad guy Gustav Graves (Toby
Stephens) and crazed sidekick Zao (Rick Yune) who are
intent on taking over the world with their weather
There is no argument that Pierce Brosnan is the
absolute perfect Bond for this generation. The actor
is handsome, suave, intelligent and charming. The
problem is, this terrific actor has been placed in
an endless run of uninspiring films supplied by
what seems to be cookie cutter machinery. Though
director Lee Tamahori has implanted some of the
greatest CGI and rear projection action sequences
ever to be seen in a Bond film, the entire premise
no longer seems very fresh nor interesting. The plot
is rather disjointed and actor Toby Stephens provides
a one-dimensional performance to his character that
never rises above the typical stock villain. For me,
these films have become sort of tiring to watch.
Still, their success continues based solely on the
fact that it's labeled as a James Bond film.
To celebrate the 20th James Bond film, MGM has
opted to give this DVD a 2-Disc Special Edition
treatment. Boasting over 7 hours of Special Features,
this is the most elaborate Bond release ever. It
arrives in a velcro-enclosed slipcover case that
opens up to reveal many gorgeous photographs from
the film. Inside the plastic amaray case that the
DVD is housed, you'll find a 4-page color booklet
that brings us up to speed on 40 years of Bond,
while giving us some essential background on this
film's characters and exciting locales. You also
get a complete list of chapter stops.
How is the transfer?
By far, this is the best James Bond has ever looked
on DVD. This jaw-dropping transfer is amongst the
best MGM has ever brought to the format. Though the
film relies heavily on various color filters, all of
it is stunningly reproduced here -- especially the
film's striking blue tones. Flesh tones and color
accuracy are perfect. Detail is razor sharp and
black levels are perfectly solid, giving the image
excellent visual depth . This is just a drop-dead
The DVD features a DTS 5.1 ES and Dolby Digital
5.1 EX surround (as well as French & Spanish
stereo surround) tracks. I opted to listen to the
DTS track, and was just blown away by what turned
out to be a high-testosterone sonic experience.
This is truly an enveloping mix with excellent
sound directionality, wide dynamic range, and a ton
of surround sound action. You won't have to wait
long to witness the power of this soundtrack -- within
he first 10 minutes of the film you'll experience
helicopter flyovers, ominous low-end booming
explosions that will rattle you in your seat, and
bullet fire that whizzes past your head. This is
one of the best DTS mixes I have had the opportunity
to experience in quite some time.
The entire feature rests on Disc One along
with added bonus features that become available
after you initially "activate" your DVD (a cool feature
that has become common with all the Bond releases).
This DVD features two full length commentaries.
The first is with director Lee Tamahori and producer
Michale G. Wilson. The second with actors Pierce
Brosnan and Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost). I opted
to listen to segments of the Brosnan/Pike commentary,
and it turned out to be a rather pleasing experience.
It begins with the British actor talking about the
film's North Korea locale, which was actually filmed
on the north shore of Hawaii. The actor was a big fan
of director Lee Tamahori, and was quite eager to
work with him on this film. He also gives credit
the many artists and technicians that are able to
pull off the unbelievable visuals that become the
staple of every James Bond film. It is his hope
that out of the many films he has done (and may
continue to do) one will be regarded as a "classic."
At about 50 minutes into this commentary, actress
Rosamund Pike finally chimes in. The actress talks
about (among other things) her elaborate screen test
at Pinewood studios as well as her very nerve-wracking
first-day scene against actress Judy Dench.
MI6 Datastream is a most welcomed addition
to this Bond DVD. With this feature activated,
you'll be treated to "pop-up text" that provides
us with a wealth of trivia material, as well as
pointing out the many homages to classic Bond films.
As you watch this film in this mode, an INCOMING
VIDEO TRANSMISSION message alerts you to an upcoming
video vignette that is seamlessly integrated into
the film. There seem to be about 7 or more of these
short pieces that run under 2-minutes in length.
Very cool feature!
A Bond promo trailer does its best to sell
the gift set collections that are probably owned by
everyone reading this review.
Let's move on to Disc Two....
The disc begins with a Inside Die Another Day
a documentary broken down into eight parts: Intro
& Surfing, Hovercraft Chase, Cuba, Quartermaster, Ice
palace, Car Battle and Post Production & Finale.
Most all of this material was shot during the making
of the film, bringing us on the set where we see
plenty of behind-the-scenes action and lots of short
comments from most of the primary cast and filmmakers
who often talk about the various rain storms that
plagued the production of this film. There's a nice
little tribute given to Desmond Llewelyn ("Q") by
cast members that include John Cleese. We are taken
on a tour of the huge sets at Pinewood studios, which
actress Rosamund Pike refers to as "working in a large
theme park." Most interesting here is the staging
of the film's climatic car chase on ice. The
filmmakers were unsure as to whether the Iceland
lake would freeze 24 inches thick, and up until the
very last moment, it was thought the filming would
be impossible. It's just fascinating to watch how
this chase was staged, with careful attention given
to the safety of the entire crew. A really top-rate
featurette produced by our friend and HTF member,
Charles de Lauzirika.
(length: approx. 90 minutes)
Mission Deconstruction is broken down into
four chapters: Scene Evolutions, Interaction
Sequences, Title Design and Digital Grading.
Here you'll see storyboard to film comparisons of
the hovercraft chase and car battle; multiple angle/
camera shots of 4 the film's major action sequences;
a look at putting together the film's title sequence
that shows how live action and computer generated
effects were composed brought together; How the
film was digitally "tweaked" to make sure there was
a consistency in sky shots as well as various
lighting effects. You'll see a few examples here
of how the film looked "before" and "after" digital
Equipment Briefing is broken down into
four chapters: Surfboard, Watch, Jet Glider,
Sonic Agitator and Aston Martin. Click
on each to view small animated shorts that give
us detailed background on that piece of equipment.
The shorts are seconds in length, and narrated by
someone who is supposed to sound like John Cleese,
but obviously isn't. This is easily skippable.
The Image Database contains what seems to
be over 200 still images broken down into various
categories: Cast, Special Shoot, Sets & Locations,
Stunts & Special Effects and Vehicles and
Ministry of Propaganda contains all the
promotional material associated with this film.
Included in this line-up....
* Two teaser trailers, the original theatrical
trailer, various TV Spots.
* Madonna's music video, Die Another Day
which includes a separate 4-minute "making of"
* A trailer for the 007 Nightfire video
game and an unequally unnecessary separate "making
* Trailers for other MGM releases that include
Evelyn, Wintalkers, Agent Cody Banks and
DVD-ROM content takes you to the film's
official website where added material is promised
by street date.
Yes, Die Another Day is yet another half-
baked action flick saved only by the appeal of its
familiarity. I mean, when was the last time you
saw a really good James Bond film? Even
more worrisome is the fact that I don't think these
films are ever going to get better.
My advice? Enjoy this film for what it is and
don't be a complainer like me. Hey, this is James
Bond we are talkin' about and like it or not, this
film is going to be another essential purchase.
Fortunately, this is a wonderfully produced
Special Edition that sports an eye-popping visual
and sonic transfer and supplements that are
generally good. Wrap it all up in an elaborate
2-disc edition that sells for $20 on-line and you
have yourself a DVD that is a sure purchase!
Release Date: June 3, 2003
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality