DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "Die Another Day" Special Edition (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, May 6, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Die Another Day
    Special Edition

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 2002
    Rated: PG-13
    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
    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
    changing device.


    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
    gorgeous transfer.


    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.

    Special Features


    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
    of" featurette.

    * Trailers for other MGM releases that include
    Evelyn, Wintalkers, Agent Cody Banks and
    Bulletproof Monk.

    DVD-ROM content takes you to the film's
    official website where added material is promised
    by street date.

    Final Thoughts


    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
  2. Chris James

    Chris James Stunt Coordinator

    May 13, 2002
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    "Even more worrisome is the fact that I don't these films
    are ever going to get better."

    You left out "think." Just thought I'd help out a bit. [​IMG]

    Great review! I always liked ol' diamond face!
  3. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Screenwriter

    Oct 5, 2000
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  4. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Northern Virginia
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    Chuck Mayer
    Thanks for the review. Like a lot of recent films (maybe I have gotten picky), DaD had some great scenes and moments, but the overall effect was less than the sum of the parts. I just didn't love the movie.

    Slavish collector and completist, I will buy the DVD the day of release. At least it looks like a great set of a great looking (minus some of the poorer effects) film.

    So there is that,
  5. Matt Naglieri

    Matt Naglieri Second Unit

    Jul 30, 2001
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    Great review as always Ron.

    Thanks for the info on the subtitles. I will definitely be picking this one up soon.
  6. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

    Dec 31, 1998
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    Thanks for the good review Ron but.....
    "Though director Lee Tamahori has implanted some of
    the greatest CGI and rear projection action sequences
    ever to be seen in a Bond film"
    I thought that this was the worst looking CGI I have ever seen. Especially the airplane at the end. Bond films dont need CGI.
  7. Justin Bauer

    Justin Bauer Supporting Actor

    Feb 19, 2003
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    Nice review. I thought the movie was a huge let down after all the hype. But I must have it to complete my Bond Collection and it is a plus that the DVD is stacked.
  8. Matthew_Millheiser

    Matthew_Millheiser Supporting Actor

    May 1, 2000
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    I will gladly spin this disc many times.

    Funny thing about Bond films and Bond fans: everyone at some point is a first-timer, and to them these movies seem new and fresh.

    My first Bond film (in theaters) was also The Spy Who Loved Me (I was six), and I absolutely went crazy bugfuck over the movie. I thought James Bond was the coolest, the Roger Moore was the absolute badass, and that this sudden new world of superspies, exotic locales, and beautiful women opened up to me.

    My Dad hated it. Thought the "real" Bond movies came out a decade before and that Spy was same-old, same-old.

    Twenty years later, some new child watching Goldeneye probably had the same reaction I did. And at the same time, my jaded soul felt the same as my Dad did two decades past.

    So there's probably a gaggle of Bond neophytes who think DAD is the pinnacle of Superspy Movie Achievement. I enjoyed a lot about Die Another Day, and will be getting it as soon as it's released.

    But it ain't no The Spy Who Loved Me! [​IMG]
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    Excellent point!

    First impression is a lasting one, and Roger Moore
    will always be my favorite Bond.

    The Spy Who Loved Me and The Man With
    The Golden Gun
    are my favorite Bond films (I
    know that purists will hate my second choice).

    I wonder about this new generation, however....

    With movies like XXX, does Bond still hold up
    as grand escapism?
  10. Yousaf

    Yousaf Second Unit

    Nov 20, 2002
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    Well I'm pretty young and even though I saw a Bond movie when I was three or so I don't even remember which one it was, so I consider Goldeneye to be my first real Bond film. And I liked it. I've seen the other three Brosnan Bonds as well and liked them too, and intrigued, decided to watch some of the older Bonds. To be honest, they didn't seem all that special and given the choice I would probably watch the newer ones instead. What I guess I'm saying is that it works both ways...you old fogies think your Bonds are better, and us whippersnappers may prefer the newer films. Since most of them are more or less the same, it's all what you grow up with [​IMG]

    And to Ron:
    Vin Diesel (as whatever character he played in XXX) lacks the refinement of James Bond, and so while XXX and sequels (if they are made) will make for a great escape, the ultimate superspy films they are not [​IMG]
  11. Woo Jae

    Woo Jae Screenwriter

    Dec 13, 2000
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    All the OO7 films are repetitive to some degree. But I still love them all. [​IMG] Sean Connery still remains my favorite.

    Thanks for the review Ron. Great job as always... TMWTGG (aka The Man with the Golden Gun is a FUN bond film that can't be overlooked. I mean it features Christopher Lee as Scaramanga who was everyone's favorite arch-enemy Sauron.
  12. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

    Jun 23, 2001
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    disappointed to hear the video isn't up to scratch though. from dvdfile ...

  13. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

    Mar 7, 2001
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    Brooklyn, NY
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    Damin J. Toell
  14. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

    Sep 4, 1999
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    Ron lives in the land of bliss, for he is one who does not notice the EE.

    Let him live in his perfect world, for the rest of us fallen shall forever be tarnished with the mark of the halo. [​IMG]
  15. Dmitry

    Dmitry Supporting Actor

    Nov 30, 1998
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  16. Ryan_TD

    Ryan_TD Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 8, 2002
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    I'm going to have to say that although I grew up on Roger Moore as Bond as well, I've much more enjoyed Sean Connery after going back and watching the earlier Bond films, but I think the last four Bond films are the most fun to watch, being the newest, they are the tits and ass of reference quality-demo material, plus Pierce Brosnan is a pretty good combination of all the other Bonds, and I hope he does at least one more(i know he has expressed ending his role as 007) btw this is one helluva long run on sentence, huh?. sorry.
  17. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

    Jul 16, 2002
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  18. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 2000
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  19. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein
    Let me tell you something.....

    Not one review I have ever written -- and I have
    done 400 of them so far -- mentions anything about
    edge enhancement or halos.

    I'm sure I'll get blasted by everyone for saying
    this, but I don't even know what halos or edge
    enhancement looks like.

    Does this mean I'm the biggest idiot on earth?
    Yes, perhaps it does.

    But I have quite a few friends -- some who reside
    on this forum -- that have no idea what edge
    enhancement or halos look like. I read the DVDFILE
    review after I posted mine. I went back and looked
    at the transfer again. I never saw any sort of
    "halo" effect in the picture. You would think
    if something was wrong, it would be staring me
    in the face. The reality is, if you don't know
    what to look for, you ain't gonna notice it. So,
    yes, my world is very perfect, and so is the
    world of many of us that don't look excessively
    deep into a transfer for any impurities that don't
    stand out to begin with.

    I am not knocking DVDFILE or any of the more
    "professional" reviewers out there that like to
    talk about these defects. It's their job to dig
    deep and talk about these things. Perhaps if I
    saw the same problems they do, my reviews would
    garner a little more respect within this community.

    I look at a picture purely for how good or bad
    it looks at face value. If nothing blatantly stands
    out as being defective, I don't look for it and
    neither do the highest percentage of consumers who
    buy DVD product.

    I stand behind my comments about the quality of
    this transfer.

  20. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Dec 19, 1998
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