Die Another Day Blu-ray Review
Die Another Day is obviously a very recent Bond release, and as such should show up well on Blu-ray. It is a pleasure to say that the quality of the picture is diametrically opposite to the quality of the film. Coming to HD disc in a theatrically correct 1080P picture, this is certainly a very decent picture indeed.
The first thing to notice is the colour level within the transfer. Die Another Day opens with a deliberately muted palette, and indeed there are several key scenes elsewhere when the colour is deliberately muted - but when the colour is truly allowed to shine then the result is vibrant and bright. Key examples of this are the escape of Bond and Jinx from the lab. Colour levels within are clear, bright, and precise, and when Jinx performs her final manoeuvre then the colour of the ocean is quite simply breathtaking. Even in the more muted scenes, the colour is still a very faithful rendition of what I remember in the cinema.
The level of detail present in the transfer is very much a mixed bag. The muted scenes also seem to lack a level of detail as well as a layer of colour. A key example of this is the opening scenes, in particular the chases. The vehicles used just don't seem to have the level of detail one would normally expect. These scenes show the same with facial detail and clothing detail as well. It all seems to be rather lacking. Other scenes, however, look absolutely stunning - with the level of detail being ramped up and the 3D Pop being very obvious and impressive. It is very difficult to put your finger on exactly why this is - but this transfer is the very definition of inconsistent.
The thing is, there are times when the transfer is amongst the top tier of Blu-rays for quality, so it is so frustrating that it often dips down to less stellar quality levels. It is never bad as such, but it is strange that they couldn't maintain the quality for the whole film.
The picture may be the veritable curate's egg, but there is no such problem with the DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track which is quite simply stunning from start to finish.
From beginning to end, this soundtrack provides a dynamism and sense of envelopment which adds a great deal to the film as a whole. For a film which is so bombastic, I was expecting a harsh over the top soundtrack - but this is amazingly subtle and full of small, clever touches.
Whether in the midst of the busiest action sequence, or the quietest scene, the dialogue is always well mixed. It is possible to hear every remark clearly, even amongst the loudest explosion, and every nuance is clearly highlighted. The front separation is well handled, and the score is mixed in beautifully, with the quietest notes clear and audible.
The LFE is also well-balanced, going deep when required but never overpowering the other parts of the track. Your living room will get quite a shake out of this track, but it always sounds natural and well placed.
The rears also get a good workout constantly, but like the best mixes they are never used un-necessarily. They underpin the action perfectly, and really help in drawing the viewer into the action. The match the onscreen action perfectly in the action scenes, always displaying great panning, and with various off-screen action perfectly placed directionally. Even during the more subtle scenes, the rears provide good ambience bringing the onscreen events to life.
It is very difficult to find much fault with this track. If I was being really picky, I might say that the dynamic range is not quite as good as it should be - but this is something that most casual viewers are unlikely to notice. Otherwise, this is an excellent mix!
Although I had never owned any of the Ultimate Edition Bond DVDs, I had heard a lot about how packed with features they were. After experiencing Casino Royale I had high hopes on the extras here. Sadly, I was rather disappointed
We begin, as usual, with Commentaries. Here we have two - an actor's commentary and one with the director and producer. Both commentaries are decent and interesting, but both manage to avoid any suggestion of how bad the film is - which is pretty clever of the participants.
We are then provided with a Text Trivia Track which is actually very good. I do like these anyway, as they interfere with the film less than an audio commentary and this is a good companion to the film. We then have five featurettes which cover all aspects of the production in various bite size segments. These are interesting, and go into a lot of depth behind the scenes. They never give you a sense of being knocked together as EPKs and provide a good deal of interest. It is just a shame they are in SD.
Die Another Day is a Bond film that starts off in a very original manner, but very quickly descends into formula, before defying convention by managing to sink into a mire of unbelievable plot twists, and terrible SFX. Brosnan does his best as the title character but he really needs better material than this. The film may well have been a financial success, but is now regarded as one of the weakest in the franchise with some justification.
The weak main feature is supported by good, SD features that are very interesting but somehow lack the depth of some of the other recent Bond releases. The film is served with an inconsistent picture, which can be very good, and at other times is very average. The sound mix, however, is absolutely exemplary.
The bottom line is simple. If you are a fan of the film, or a Bond completist, then you will not regret buying this disc. More casual viewers, however, can find much better Bond films to spend their money on in these credit crunch times.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £34.98
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