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MOVIE INFO

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

Synopsis:
An evil media mogul aims to use his communications network to lure a British submarine off course, steal its nuclear warheads, and ignite a war with China. Pierce Brosnan once again plays James Bond, with Teri Hatcher and Michelle Yeoh co-starring.

Box Office:
Budget
$110 million.
Opening Weekend
$25.143 million on 2807 screens.
Domestic Gross
$125.332 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Mandarin Chinese
Korean
Thai
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 117 min.
Price: $89.98
Release Date: 12/12/2006

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

Available Only as Part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume Four”

PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Tomorrow Never Dies: Ultimate Edition (1997)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 8, 2007)

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 elevated 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 truly blown away with the result.

As such, it would be hard for Dies to match up with that. While I can’t currently call Titanic one of my favorite films, I also can’t deny that it made a very strong 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 the boat movie 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” from which the title glibly emanates. 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. The two sides bicker; the Chinese say that the Brits entered their territory and that they didn’t do it anyway, while the English are sure they 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 yet.

As for Paris, she definitely falls within the retro mode. Considering the modest star power of Hatcher, Paris plays a surprisingly small role in the movie, and she really has very little to do. Hatcher looks good in the role, but Paris is an underwritten and incomplete part; 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 audiences 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 may initially seem disappointing. GoldenEye started with a true bang, whereas Dies begins with more of a whimper, and that set 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 seems to be 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 DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus A

Tomorrow Never Dies appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Not too many problems emerged in this usually excellent 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.

I liked the audio of Dies even more. The package included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. As I’ve come to expect from these Bond “Ultimate Edition” DVDs, both sounded virtually identical to me.

The world of James Bond is a loud and dynamic one, and these mixes pumped the audio to a positive degree. The soundfields showed a very 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 quite 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 picture and audio of this “Ultimate Edition” compare to those of the original 1998 special edition? The audio of both sets appeared identical, but the UE offered substantial visual improvements. It presented better sharpness along with tighter colors and fewer source flaws.

The UE offers all the same extras as the prior release along with some new ones. I’ll mark this package’s exclusives with an asterisk, so if you fail to see a star, the component also appeared on the original set.

On DVD One, 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 an absolutely 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 liked the discussion of the challenges that are unique to the Bond universe, and I thought this was a very complete track.

Good but not as scintillating was the second commentary. It featured producer Michael G. Wilson and second unit director Vic Armstrong. Both men were recorded together for this screen-specific track. I suppose part of the reason I liked this piece less than Spottiswoode’s was because inevitably Wilson and Armstrong repeat some of the same information, but even if that hadn’t occurred, I’d still think less of it. They 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 I heard some nice details, and this commentary got a bit more involved in the technical specifics of the film, but it wasn’t 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. This piece provides the music in Dolby Surround sound. 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.

As we shift to DVD Two, 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.

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 (3:12). “Locations” (4:23) 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.

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.

The Storyboard Presentation alters an extra on the original Dies DVD. Here 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.

How does this DVD’s presentation of the storyboards differ from the original release? The old disc allowed us to have the boards pop up while we watch the film instead of as a separate component ala this version. The 1998 DVD also let us select them individually, so it had its cake and ate it too.

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.

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 DVD 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. Lastly, the package includes a booklet that covers Bond facts.

Ultimately, Tomorrow Never Dies offers neither the greatest film nor DVD in the world, but it’s a solid piece in both regards. The movie initially 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 DVD features solid picture and sound plus a positive roster of extras. Tomorrow Never Dies shouldn’t be your first Bond DVD purchase, but it would make a fine addition to your collection nonetheless.

Should folks who already own the prior release pursue this Ultimate Edition? I think so. Audio remains the same for both, but this one offers noticeably improved visuals plus a few tasty new extras. This is yet another worthwhile upgrade for Bond fans.

Note that this “Ultimate Edition” of Tomorrow Never Dies can be purchased only as part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume Four”. This five-movie set also includes Dr. No, Moonraker, Octopussy, and You Only Live Twice.

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

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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