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MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
James Bond (Brosnan) goes undercover with America’s hottest agent (Berry) to stop a diamond dealer with a catastrophic weapon in this sexy, adrenaline-pumping thrill-ride.

Director:
Lee Tamahori
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Rick Yune, John Cleese, Judi Dench, Michael Madsen
Writing Credits:
Neal Purvis, Robert Wade

Box Office:
Budget
$142 million.
Opening Weekend
$47.072 million on 3314 screens.
Domestic Gross
$160.201 million.
MPAA:
Rated PG-13 for action violence and sexuality.

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Stereo 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 10/21/2008

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Lee Tamahori and Producer Michael G. Wilson
• Audio Commentary with Actors Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike
• MI6 DataStream Trivia Track with Video Streaming
• “From Script to Screen” Documentary
• “Shaken and Stirred on Ice” Featurette
• “Just Another Day” Featurette
• “The British Touch: Bond Arrives in London” Featurette
• “On Location with Peter Lamont” Featurette
• 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide
• Photo Gallery


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Die Another Day [Blu-Ray] (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 4, 2010)

Before Die Another Day hit screens in late 2002, many declared that James Bond had become a dinosaur. Pundits declared that the new generation didn’t want to see a martini-swilling lounge lizard like 007 and they’d prefer an extreme sports dude like Xander Cage in xXx.

Box office scorecard: xXx $141 million, Die Another Day $160 million.

Lesson learned: don’t bury Bond ‘cause he’s not dead yet.

Day does alter the usual 007 formula in some ways, especially in its early scenes. At the start, we see Bond (Pierce Brosnan) on a mission in North Korea. He poses as a diamond dealer named Van Bierk to get close to Colonel Moon (Will Yun Lee), a Korean who plans to trade anti-mine hovercraft for the gems. However, Moon’s assistant Yao (Rick Yune) quickly discovers that Van Bierk’s actually Bond, and all hell breaks loose.

Bond creates a violent distraction and attempts to get away, but in a twist that seems unusual for the series, he doesn’t escape. Moon appears to perish in a crash, but the forces marshaled by his father General Moon (Kenneth Tsang) capture Bond and put him through 14 months of torture. They desire to discover the name of an agent in the west who worked with Colonel Moon, but Bond can’t help. Eventually he gets out as part of a prisoner exchange, though not due to the good will of his superiors. As his boss M (Judi Dench) tells him, they retrieved Bond because they feared he’d begun to leak information.

M rescinds Bond’s 00 status and demands that he go under evaluation. He prefers to find out the identity of the double agent who compromised his mission, so he fakes his own death to get out of confinement and go out on his own. His path briefly leads through Hong Kong and soon takes him to Cuba, where he tracks Colonel Moon’s old accomplice Zao, the prisoner previously exchanged for Bond.

After he arrives in the land of Castro, Bond finds out that Zao’s at a clinic run by Dr. Alvarez (Simón Andreu). This place operates on genes, which allows a person to physically mutate into someone else. Zao’s undergoing this therapy so he can better avoid past legal concerns.

While he investigates, Bond meets Jinx (Halle Berry), a sexy but mysterious babe who emerges from the sea and hooks up with him. After their dalliance, they cross paths again at the clinic, where Jinx murders Alvarez. Bond confronts Zao, but after a tussle, the baddie escapes. Jinx joins in the chase as well, but she also gets away before Bond can figure out what’s up with her.

Bond finds a lead that takes him on the trail of Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a stunt - and publicity - loving gajillionaire who promises to soon unveil a big space program called Icarus. Aided by lovely publicist Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), Graves also trains to become a successful fencer. After a brutal match, Graves invites Bond to attend the unveiling of Icarus in Iceland.

The film’s second half takes place mostly in that chilly clime. We watch as Jinx reappears and we find out about her interest in the case. We also learn more about Graves’ secret, Icarus, and the secret agent. Quips pop up, stuff explodes, and everyone has a good time.

If that last sentence gives you the impression that most of Day follows the standard Bond plan, you’d interpret correctly. While I don’t find that to be a real weakness, in this case it comes as something of a disappointment given the film’s start. The flick begins with a surprisingly dark tone, and the implication that Bond will take on the case as a rogue agent seems intriguing. Granted, we saw that before in 1989’s underrated Licence to Kill, but it still presented enough of a departure from the standard fare that it felt likely to make Day something different.

Unfortunately, even without official MI6 endorsement, Bond’s quest followed the standard lines. Despite Bond’s unofficial status as he tracks the double agent, nothing about his activities feels different. It seems like business as usual while he works his magic.

For better or for worse, Day comes across like most other Bond flicks. It features all the standard components and executes them with reasonable flair. Berry received a lot of attention as the first Oscar-winning Bond girl, but she doesn’t bring a lot to the role. Part of that stems from the weakness of the Jinx character. She shows up so briefly during the first part of the film that she doesn’t make much of an impression, and she doesn’t really recover from that when she re-enters the movie later. Berry seems decent in the part, and at she does better than Denise Richards in The World Is Not Enough, but I can’t offer any more praise than that. Berry comes across as a generic Bond girl and doesn’t present much life.

On the other hand, Stephens tries way too hard to make Graves the heavy. He sneers his way through the part and fails to do much else with him. While the Bond series has a reputation for memorable villains, in truth most of them are pretty forgettable, and Graves falls into that category. Stephens’ aggressive portrayal doesn’t help matters.

While the main baddies often seem lackluster, Bond flicks do usually provide lively henchmen, and Zao seems like a nice addition to the stable. Yune adds a little spark to the flick, but he won’t be remembered as one of the great Bond second bananas. Zao seems appropriately menacing and tough, but he lacks the flair to equal notables like Jaws or Odd Job.

Really, that’s the story of Die Another Day. The film seems more than competent and suffers from very few real problems. Some of the effects are fairly weak; for example, when an ice racer goes over a cliff, it looks like a cheap model from a grade “Z” Fifties flick. Day also presents some dialogue that seems abnormally poor even for a Bond movie.

No one looks to Bond for great language, though, and at least Day delivers where it matters: with the action. I don’t know if any of its sequences will go down as all-time greats, but the film definitely presents some fine scenes. The fencing match between Bond and Graves offers an intense piece, and though the laser battle seems derivative of Goldfinger, it still works well.

Overall, Die Another Day remains an average Bond movie. It provides enough entertainment and excitement to maintain a viewer’s attention over its running time. However, it doesn’t do anything particularly fresh or new. Average Bond still beats most other efforts, but this one doesn’t do anything more than that.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus A-

Die Another Day appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Almost no problems marred this consistently solid presentation.

Sharpness appeared strong, as I found virtually no examples of softness. Despite a few instances of light edge haloes, the film exhibited a nice sense of tightness and accuracy. Jagged edges and shimmering created no concerns, and source flaws appeared absent. This was a clean transfer.

With its stylized palette, Day offered a pretty varied batch of hues. The colors looked nicely vivid and lively. They came across as tight and distinctive and showed no issues related to noise, bleeding or other issues. Black levels also appeared deep and rich, while shadows were appropriately heavy but not overly dense. I liked this image very much.

As one might expect, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Day presented a lively and active soundfield. The mix used all five speakers to terrific advantage. Various forms of effects popped up all around the spectrum, and they mixed together neatly and concisely. Elements moved among the speakers smoothly. The surrounds added a great deal of information, especially during the movie’s many action sequences. The opening chase in the minefield made fine use of the track, and the battle in the laser room also brought the movie to life very well. The soundtrack seemed appropriately vivid and involving.

Audio quality appeared positive. Speech came across as natural and distinctive, and I noticed no problems with intelligibility or edginess. Music was bright and dynamic, as the score came across with good fidelity. Effects worked especially well, as those pieces were clean and accurate. All elements showed clear highs and deep, intense bass response. The audio brought the film to life well and excelled in all ways.

How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray Disc compare to those of the 2006 Ultimate Edition release? The audio remained pretty similar; the lossless version here seemed a bit more faithful to the source, but it didn’t blow away its predecessor. The 2006 DVD offered very nice visuals, and it’s still pretty good, but it can’t keep up with the extra resolution on display here. The Blu-ray brings better definition to the image.

We start with two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G. Wilson, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. A lively track, the pair cover a lot of ground. Tamahori dominates the commentary and he brings a fresh tone to this discussion of his first Bond flick. Not surprisingly, technical elements occupy much of the piece, as we hear a lot about effects, stunts, gadgets, sets, locations, visual design and other components of that sort. We also get some notes about casting the actors, working in John Cleese as the new “Q”, Brosnan’s stunt work, and some story issues. The track moves quickly and fills the space well. This isn’t one of the best Bond commentaries I’ve heard, but it seems informative and satisfying.

The second commentary presents actors Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike. The pair offer separately recorded running, screen-specific tracks that are edited together for this piece. The track starts with just Brosnan. Following the logical course, Pike doesn’t show up until the point when her character appears on screen. She and Brosnan both offer comments for the rest of the film.

Though it suffers from a few more gaps than I’d like, it provides a generally entertaining and informative chat about the film. Brosnan gives us some nice insight into the world of Bond and his work on the series. He relates some of the character and physical challenges and he also speculates on the future of the series after his departure. Pike presents some very nice comments. As a Bond neophyte, she reflects upon her casting and indoctrination into the series, and she relates good anecdotes and reflections about her experiences. Overall, the actors’ commentary works well and gives us a worthwhile examination of the film.

We also get the MI6 DataStream. This offers a trivia track with a difference: in addition to the normal text, 19 times during the film the screen alters to show some video material. For the standard trivia part of it, we get lots of nice notes about the movie. Created by John Cork – the co-author of James Bond: The Legacy - we learn about diverse elements such as locations, connections to other Bond flicks, stunts, technical effects, story points and many other pieces. It’s a nicely informative piece.

The “video streaming” moments offer extra details in the same vein. For these, the movie itself shrinks to about 1/6th of the screen, and the other footage fills most of the rest. We learn about story developments, acting challenges, fencing training, the creation of effects, and a number of other bits. We get shots from the set along with interviews clips with model effects supervisor John Richardson, writers Neil Purvis and Robert Wade, actors Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, Halle Berry, Rick Yune, Toby Stephens, Rosamund Pike, Michael Madsen, and Samantha Bond, makeup supervisor Paul Engelen, costume supervisor Lindy Hemming, workshop supervisor Nick Finlayson, and special effects supervisor Chris Corbould.

I would have preferred a format like the “follow the white rabbit” deal found during The Matrix, as that gives the viewer a choice to skip segments and it interferes less with the presentation of the film; it’s virtually impossible to watch the movie in a coherent manner with the “DataStream” active. Nonetheless, I like the information presented and think it’s a fun way to learn more about the flick.

Now we go to the five elements under Declassified: MI6 Vault. These start with a documentary called From Script to Screen. This 51-minute and 37-second piece mixes movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from Wilson, Brosnan, Tamahori, Wade, Purvis, Corbould, Pike, Hemming, Richardson, co-producer Barbara Broccoli, executive producer Tony Waye, action unit director Vic Armstrong, storyboard artist Martin Asbury, workshop supervisor Andy Smith, Eon director of publicity and marketing Anne Bennett, Empire Magazine associate editor Ian Freer, film journalist John Millar, casting director Debbie McWilliams, production designer Peter Lamont, stunt coordinator George Aguilar, surf double Laird Hamilton, costume supervisor Graham Churchyard, production manager Philip Kohler, action unit production manager Terry Bamber, Iceland facilities manager John Hindrick, sound recordist Chris Munro, senior modeler Brian Smithies, sword master Bob Anderson and actors Halle Berry and Toby Stephens.

At its start, the program examines how a Bond script evolves. We learn about general approaches to 007 as well as specifics connected to the story for Day. The show involves bringing Tamahori on board and his impact on the tale, the development of various production units, addressing rumors and coming up with a title, sets, locations and action sequences, casting and costumes, models and effects, shooting the film and various problems along the way.

At its best, “Screen” gives us a fine production diary. The many behind the scenes shots offer a great “fly on the wall” feel for all the different events that led to the film’s creation. It’s a little too disjointed to provide a concise “making of” documentary, but its strengths more than compensate for its weaknesses.

A featurette entitled Shaken and Stirred on Ice goes for 23 minutes and 33 seconds. It features Tamahori, Stephens, Corbould, Smith, Lamont, Finlayson, Purvis, Wade, Pike, Broccoli, Wilson, Hemming, Berry, Armstrong, greensman Tim Cale, visual effects producer Alex Bicknell, senior compositor David Rey, wave sequence supervisor Dottie Starling, Iceland production manager Chris Brock, ice safety coordinator David Rootes, and stuntman Ray De Haan. As you can figure from the title, “Shaken” looks at issues related to the movie’s icy sequences. We examine the Icelandic locations and adaptations made for the setting. This means info about the cars and stunts, sets, visual effects, costumes, and other production details.

“Script” got into a few of the same subjects, but “Shaken” explores them in much greater depth. The prior program mostly looked at problems getting a frozen-enough setting, whereas this one spends more time with other aspects of the location. It devotes enough time to the subjects to prove satisfying and useful.

Just Another Day lasts 22 minutes, 37 seconds as it presents remarks from Waye, Stephens, Brosnan, Tamahori, Pike, location manager Simon Marsden, parachutist Allan Hewitt, and Parks Police Sgt. T. Hale. “Day” lives up to its title as it focuses on one specific day in the production. The show looks at the scene in which Graves parachutes in front of Buckingham Palace. It gets into all the elements involved in the segment as executed this day. I like the approach, as it gives us an interesting view of a day in the life of a Bond production.

Next we get the three-minute and 32-second The British Touch: Bond Returns to London. We hear from Tamahori, British Airways global advertising manager Abby McGowan, BA promotions executive Vanessa Orange, and actor Deborah Moore. This gives us a quick glimpse of the scenes shot on Bond’s British Airways flight. Despite its brevity, it offers some interesting insights.

The “Vault” ends with On Location with Peter Lamont. This 13-minute and 52-second piece features narration from the production designer as we tour the movie’s location scouting. The show offers a fun examination of various spots inspected for use in the film, and Lamont’s commentary adds useful information about the video footage.

With that we head to the 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide. This splits into components under seven different headings: “007”, “Women”, “Allies”, “Villains”, “Mission Combat Manual”, “Q Branch”, and “Exotic Locations”. An odd form of “greatest hits”, this simply presents a few selected scenes that match the topics.

One of the only interesting elements comes from the presentation of the opening credits without text (3:23). “Locations” (3:06) also gives us a narrated set of clips. Samantha Bond chats over the scenes and tells us about the locations. That makes it more useful than the others since they just show snippets from the final film. The rest of the set is a waste of time.

The Image Database presents a collection of still galleries. The disc divides these into five sections: “Cast Portraits” (38 photos), “Special Shoot” (49), “Sets and Locations” (73), “Stunts and Special Effects” (43), and “Vehicles and Gadgets” (23). This is a nice sample of photos.

I’ve often commented that mediocre Bond still works well, and that applies to Die Another Day. The film comes across as a moderate disappointment because it shows more promise than most Bond flicks, but it still seems like a reasonably satisfying entry in the series. The Blu-ray provides terrific sound, solid visuals and a very nice roster of extras. It’s a strong disc for an average movie, and the superior quality of the Blu-ray makes it a good upgrade for Bond fans.

To rate this film visit the original review of DIE ANOTHER DAY

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main