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Roger Spottiswoode
Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Ricky Jay, Götz Otto, Joe Don Baker, Vincent Schiavelli, Judi Dench, Desmond Llewelyn
Writing Credits:
Bruce Feirstein

James Bond heads to stop a media mogul's plan to induce war between China and the UK in order to obtain exclusive global media coverage.

Box Office:
$110 million.
Opening Weekend
$25,143,007 on 2,807 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
German DTS 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 117 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 9/15/2015

• Audio Commentary with Director Roger Spottiswoode
• Audio Commentary with Second Unit Director Vic Armstrong And Producer Michael G. Wilson
• Isolated Music Track
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Expanded Angles
• “Highly Classified: The World of 007” Documentary
• “The James Bond Theme” (Moby’s Re-Version)
• “Exotic Locations” Featurette
• “The Secrets of 007” Documentary
• Storyboard Sequences
• Interview with Composer David Arnold
• Special FX Reel
• Music Video
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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.


Tomorrow Never Dies [Blu-Ray] (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 19, 2016)

After a dormant period of six years, James Bond roared back to life with 1995’s highly successful GoldenEye. The franchise seemed done after the disappointing returns that accompanied 1989’s Licence to Kill, but the thrills that came along with Pierce Brosnan’s first experience as our favorite secret agent helped resuscitate the series.

Because GoldenEye did so well, expectations skyrocketed for its follow-up, 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. I was among those who felt greater anticipation for the newer film, and I must admit that these thoughts marred my initial perception of Dies, as I didn’t much care for it when I first watched it.

Actually, it wasn’t just my enjoyment of GoldenEye that made Dies seem less than spectacular. The film opened on the same day as Titanic, and my then-girlfriend and I decided to do a day-night doubleheader of the two on that Saturday. We went to a matinee screening of Titanic, which we followed with dinner and a viewing of Dies.

To put it mildly, we both loved Titanic. I’d not felt great expectations for the film, as I couldn’t imagine a three-plus-hour tale of a sinking boat to be very interesting. However, the actual experience provided a very compelling tale, and I was blown away with the result.

As such, it became hard for Dies to match up with that. While I can’t call Titanic one of my all-time favorite films, I also can’t deny that it made a huge impact upon me during that initial screening, and it was difficult for Dies to follow that act. Because of this, the inevitable occurred. We saw Dies and both thought it was a moderate disappointment.

In retrospect, I believe that most of my lack of enthusiasm toward Dies resulted from my affection toward Titanic. The latter was great, while the former was merely good, and the higher level of James Cameron’s hit made the Bond thriller pale by comparison. Not until months later could I evaluate Dies in a more objective way. At that time, I better understood its pleasures, and I now see it as a good - but still not great - part of the Bond franchise.

While Dies offers the usual power-mad villain, this character receives a brink-of-the-21st-century twist. Elliott Carver (Jonathan Pryce) owns many media outlets, with one of them being the tabloid “Tomorrow”. Carver creates his own news for the paper, and he also stages fake international incidents to try to crawl his way into the Chinese media market. Like most Bond baddies, he dreams of world domination, but he wants to do it in this unusual manner.

Bond gets involved after the Chinese allegedly attack a British ship located in international waters and the two sides bicker. The Chinese say that they didn’t do it, while the English feel sure their sailors were slaughtered in an unprovoked melee while in a neutral area. Once it’s discovered that there are some suspicious aspects of the fight and that it might be possible for the British locating devices to be deceived, Bond springs into action to prove Carver’s involvement.

After that we experience the usual Bond shenanigans. He goes to a press party held by Carver and briefly reunites with his enemy’s wife Paris (Teri Hatcher), a woman with whom Bond once had a fling. Bond also meets the mysterious Wai-Lin (Michelle Yeoh), who turns out to be a Chinese version of our secret agent.

The latter offers some of the best parts of Dies. While some older Bond flicks included females who could hold their own, Wai-Lin stands as one of the toughest and most compelling. Although the movie inevitably contrives to have Bond rescue her, we really feel as though this isn’t necessary; she appears to be more than self-sufficient, and Yeoh plays her with spunky aplomb that makes Wai-Lin one of the smartest and savviest Bond babes ever.

As for Paris, she definitely falls within the retro mode. Considering Hatcher’s modest star power, Paris plays a surprisingly small role in the movie, and she really does little. Hatcher looks good in the role, but Paris is such an underwritten and incomplete part that the film could have done just fine without her.

Pryce chews the scenery with gusto as Carver. Some dislike his hammy performance while others revel in its glorious campiness.

Personally, I would have preferred to see Pryce add a greater level of realism. No, we don’t look to Bond films for true-to-life experiences, but there’s a fine line between stupid and clever, and Pryce occasionally crosses it. He makes Carver a fun villain, but he’s not someone the audience really fears or respects.

I think my initial complaint about Dies was that it felt somewhat generic and uninventive, but I now feel more positively toward it. The plot is fairly bland, as the media mogul angle doesn’t really add much to the standard “evil genius” story. This seems especially drab after the nice twists and turns found in GoldenEye.

However, Dies does include some terrific action pieces, most of which are quite thrilling. Unfortunately, the traditional opening sequence wasn’t among the better parts of the film, another reason why Dies initially disappointed me. GoldenEye started with a true bang, whereas Dies begins with more of a whimper, and that sets a lackluster tone for the movie.

Nonetheless, we do find a number of good sequences after that. The “backseat driver” piece that takes place in a German garage is a genuine classic, and the motorcycle bit in which Bond and Wai-Lin are handcuffed together while a helicopter chases them also becomes very memorable. The finale doesn’t quite live up to these inspired scenes, but it finishes the movie in a fairly satisfying manner.

Ultimately, the phrase “fairly satisfying” aptly describes Tomorrow Never Dies. Few will consider it to be one of the best of the Bond franchise, but few will also see it as a poor entry in the series. The movie lacks some of the spark and panache that elevated its superior brethren, but it still manages to thrill and entertain for most of its running time. Despite some initial reservations, in the long run I’ve come to really like the film.

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

Tomorrow Never Dies appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly positive presentation.

Only minor concerns popped up in terms of visual definition. A few wide shots seemed slightly soft, largely due to a little edge enhancement. However, most of the flick seemed crisp and detailed, so those instances failed to create real distractions. I detected no signs of moiré effects or jagged edges, and source flaws were totally absent.

Colors seemed very good. The movie exhibited a natural palette that demonstrated fine clarity and vivacity. Blacks also appeared dark and dense, and shadows usually were appropriately opaque. A few shots – usually those connected to the stealth boat – could seem a little too thick, but those were rare. Overall, this was a very nice transfer.

The world of James Bond is a loud and dynamic one, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix pumped the audio to a positive degree. The soundfield showed a high level of activity. The front channels displayed a great deal of sound across the speakers, as music provided fine stereo separation and effects were broad and engaging.

The forward spectrum was realistic and involving, and the surrounds also contributed a good level of reinforcement. Dies included a lot of action sequences, and all of these became more exciting due to the engrossing audio that came from all around the viewer. The sounds blended together neatly and panned well between speakers to create a fairly seamless environment.

Audio quality also appeared to be generally positive. Some dialogue sounded slightly stiff, and occasional examples of awkward dubbing occurred, but as a whole the speech seemed to be quite natural and warm. No signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility marred the presentation.

Jets and missiles betrayed some modest distortion, but otherwise effects sounded crisp and accurate, and they could definitely pack a solid punch. Dies offered fine low-end when appropriate, which meant that the piece often really rumbled the house.

Music also showed positive dynamics, as the score seemed to be clear and was presented with good fidelity. In the end, Tomorrow Never Dies provided a fine auditory experience that was marred solely by a few minor flaws.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVD? The lossless audio boasted greater kick, while the visuals were tighter and more distinctive. In other words, the Blu-ray offered the typical improvements.

The Blu-ray brings over most of the DVD’s extras, and we start with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Roger Spottiswoode, who is essentially interviewed here by Dan Petrie. I found this to be a terrific track during which I learned a wealth of great information.

Spottiswoode covers a wide variety of topics, from the technical elements of making a Bond flick to the creative decisions he had to make. He notes that for all of their common areas, it can be difficult to do a Bond film because a) you have to find ways to make things different and more exciting, and b) everyone and his uncle has an opinion about the series. Spottiswoode even gets into a nice discussion of the pros and cons of various film aspect ratios! I really like the discussion of the challenges that are unique to the Bond universe, so this becomes a very informative track.

The second commentary features producer Michael G. Wilson and second unit director Vic Armstrong. Both men sit together for this running, screen-specific track. This one satisfies less than the director commentary because inevitably Wilson and Armstrong repeat some of the same information.

Even if that hadn’t occurred, though, I’d still prefer the Spottiswoode chat. Wilson and Armstrong spend too much of the commentary praising various participants and leave less time to tell of details.

Wilson dominates the track, and his tendency to praise makes sense since he needs to continue to maintain a positive relationship with all the folks attached to the project. At times he gives some nice details, and this commentary gets a bit more involved in the technical specifics of the film, but it never becomes as compelling as Spottiswoode’s track. Still, it’s worth a listen for fans of the movie.

A third alternate audio program also appears. This one includes an Isolated Music Track. Via this mode, you can listen to all of David Arnold’s score plus other tunes like Sheryl Crow’s title song in their uninterrupted glory. I’m not terribly fond of movie scores, but I know many folks do enjoy them, so this kind of feature remains a nice bonus.

We find four separate components under Declassified: MI6 Vault. We begin with a collection of nine Deleted and Extended Scenes. We get “Gupta in Office with Cards” (1:14), “Moving Assignment – Extended” (3:15), “Bond Gets a Jag” (0:52), “Full Sir Angus Black Story” (1:42), “’Get to Know Him Better’” (1:19), “Rental Car” (1:08), “Gupta Throws a Card at Guard” (0:43), “’What the Hell Do I Pay You For?’” (1:36) and “’Let’s Stay Undercover’” (1:35).

All together, these take up 13 minutes, 27 seconds, and all come with introductions from director Spottiswoode. (He also offers a 26-second statement that leads into the collection as a whole.) The director lets us know a little background about the clips and relates why he cut them.

As for the scenes themselves, they’re usually pretty interesting. None of them adds a whole lot to the experience, but they’re fun to see. The Gupta bits are the most compelling since they offer a minor character element eliminated from the final film.

Two scenes allow us to view them via Expanded Angles. We find “The Car Chase” (4:07) and “White Knight” (7:28). Both can be viewed in their final film incarnation, as an alternate angle, or as a composite screen with a mix of additional angles; the latter breaks into as many as elements at times. These allow us a cool way to check out unused footage and see other options. This area also comes with a 56-second intro from Spottiswoode, as he sets up what we’ll see.

Highly Classified: The World of 007 runs 57 minutes, 43 seconds. Hosted by Desmond Llewelyn in character as “Q”, we get comments from Spottiswoode, Wilson, Armstrong, Arnold, aerial coordinator Marc Wolff, stunt coordinator Dickey Beer, title sequence director Daniel Kleinman, HALO jumper BJ Worth, storyboard artist Martin Asbury, costume designer Lindy Hemming, production designer Allan Cameron, miniature effects supervisor John Richardson, and actors Michelle Yeoh, Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Judi Dench, and Samantha Bond.

“World” looks at the opening aerial sequence, the title credits, characters and casting, the HALO jump, storyboards, the banner fall on the skyscraper, the score, costumes, the motorcycle chase, and miniatures. Originally released as a videotape supplement, we get a pretty good mix of behind the scenes footage and information in “World”. It feels a bit fluffy at times, but it’s always nice to see Llewelyn, and the show packs enough good details to make it worthwhile. Though this doesn’t qualify as a great documentary, it’s fairly enjoyable.

Finally, we get Moby’s Re-Version of “The James Bond Theme”. The three-minute, 25-second video combines Moby’s techno-fied version of the famous fanfare with an adventure story. We see some movie clips but mostly follow Moby as he eludes baddies and heads toward a countdown. It’s not a scintillating video, but it’s above average for the genre.

Heading to Mission Dossier, we begin with The Secrets of 007. This program runs for 44 minutes, 33 seconds and takes a global look at the franchise. Hosted by Peter Coyote, the show splits its segments into various topics such as the different actors to play Bond, the movies’ stunts, Bond women, and Bond villains. Dies gets a minor emphasis, and we hear more about it toward the end of the documentary, but the overall emphasis remains on the entire series.

It’s a decent show, but I would have preferred to find a more detailed discussion of Dies, especially since GoldenEye included a similar program. That one makes “The World of 007” feel somewhat redundant. Plus, Coyote does not make a satisfactory replacement for Liz Hurley, the host of the prior program.

With Storyboard Presentation, we can select from nine movie scenes you can watch these segments with their original storyboards displayed in the lower right corner of the screen. Taken together via the “Play All” option, 27 minutes and 39 seconds.

The execution of this feature was a little sloppy. The drawings are made semi-translucent, which doesn’t decrease the manner in which they interfere with the film but it does make them more difficult to see. Nonetheless, this can be a fun way to compare the sequences to the final product.

The Special Effects Reel gives us two minutes and 53 seconds of what the title implies: shots of effects footage as they get composited together. We see greenscreen images combined with backgrounds and other elements as they mix to make the final product. This comes only with music from the film; no narration discusses what we observe. Still, it’s a brief but neat little look at how some of the movie’s pieces created the final result.

Gadgets offers a short look at three of the film’s devices. We find narrated text and small images of the Sea-Vac, the BMW, and the cell phone featured in the flick. The details add a little, but not much, as this was a fairly useless piece.

An Interview With Composer David Arnold provides a minor chat with the musician. In this two-minute, 38-second clip, we hear a few tidbits from Arnold about his work on Dies; these statements intermix with shots from the film. Ultimately, the latter overwhelm the former. Arnold gives us a couple of interesting remarks about the challenges of composing for Bond, but this piece feels too brief and superficial to add much to the set.

Exotic Locations (4:23) gives us a narrated set of clips. Samantha Bond chats over the scenes and tells us about the locations. We learn a little in this breezy piece.

A music video for Sheryl Crow’s title song provides a reasonably flashy and entertaining clip. The track shows Crow as she lip-synchs the tune, and we also see a mix of snippets from the movie. However, the piece attempts to resemble a Bond credit sequence, and it does so well. Crow romps across the visual landscape, and the movie bits become cleanly integrated. It’s not a great video, but it’s definitely above average for a clip that promotes a movie.

Speaking of promotion, the disc includes two trailers. We get the film’s fun teaser and its full trailer. The Image Database consists of some Still Galleries. These split into 16 subdomains, each of which includes between one and 14 shots. 94 pictures appear in all. Some decent snaps appear, but don’t expect anything great.

In 1997, Tomorrow Never Dies left me a little cold, but I’ve come to better enjoy some of its charms over the years. It doesn’t provide the spark found in the best Bond flicks, but it works pretty nicely on its own. The Blu-ray delivers mostly good picture and audio as well as a terrific roster of supplements. This becomes a nice addition to any Bond fan’s collection.

To rate this film visit the original review of TOMORROW NEVER DIES

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