Die Another Day - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p AVC MPEG4 encoded transfer and is Region free.
I was expecting more from a ten year old film. Detail on the whole is pretty good, there is plenty of texture to objects, skin has pores, hair and looks very natural indeed and backgrounds hold edges well, from distant shore lines, to the jungles tree lines. Mud looks suitably sloppy and wet, and snow contains a nice crisp edge. Intricate details to gadgets, see Q’s lab, are well defined as are the various computer screens in mission control. However it’s not absolutely pristine, the image suffers from the occasional bout of softness, but over and above that DNR has robbed it of that finite detail that really brings a picture to life.
Colours are, for the most part, quite rich. The opening scene has been digitally de-saturated and very muted compared to the rest of the picture, this was intentional, but it has also compromised the integrity in that the picture looks like it’s been digitally manipulated, close up there are signs of the manipulation, but it’s only for a short time. Once we’re into the film proper the colours really begin to shine – reds are bright and vibrant, blues are deep and greens are lush, all without wash or bleed. Skin tones are suitable healthy too.
Brightness and contrast are set to give decent enough blacks that add some nice depth to the picture whilst maintaining enough shadow detail to compliment the image. Check out the skyline to Hong Kong! Whites, however are a little boosted, check out the background villas in Havana for some noticeable detail loss, also the explosions are extremely ‘hot’, though it is most noticeable in the subtitles which positively bloom.
Digitally there are no compression problems, but the DNR has all but scrubbed the grain away which leaves its own problems; many occasions the background can been seen to ‘shimmer’ or fluctuate in brightness, this is especially true in bright blue skies or mist, and to compensate for detail loss the sharpening tool has been used to bring out details, but has left its mark in the form of edge enhancement which, while not overtly obvious, is clearly visible in certain scenes. Posterization in the beginning scene is also evident, but not once you pass the digitally manipulated colours. Not a bad picture by any means, just one that should have been better.
I concentrate on the English dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. No such quibbles with the sound which is typically bombastic and full of the type of surround effects that adorn action films. Separation is excellent with plenty of stereo effects to widen the field, gun shots, car engines or other ambient effects adding much to the realism of the picture. Surrounds are used extensively to place you in the centre of the action, and it is in the action scenes where they are used to their fullest, right from the off with the ‘gunbarrel’ opening and the bullet whizzing past you. The score makes full use of the speakers and dynamic range again putting you in the middle. Bass is well handled and quite tight, with LF effects aplenty, though it seldom plumbs the depths of the very best out there. Dialogue, for the most part is well levelled in the mix, clear and precise sounds perfectly natural and given directionality when needed. I say for the most part, because in the opening scene it does get a little lost in the mayhem on screen, though this is only brief. On the whole an excellent use of the sound stage, missing out on reference due to its blunt force trauma rather than detailed mix.
- Audio Commentary – Two commentaries, the first with actors Pierce Bronsan and Rosamund Pike, the second with Lee Tamahori and Michael G. Wilson; both contain the usual amount of info and trivia.
- MI6 Datastream – Trivia track.
Declassified MI6 Vault
- From Script to Screen – Fifty minute making of feature that encompasses interviews behind the scenes footage, very comprehensive.
- Shaken & Stirred - On Ice – A closer look at the Icelandic car chase on the frozen lake.
- Just Another Day – Twenty minute look at the logistics of a one day’s filming to produce a minute worth of final footage.
- A British Touch; Bond Returns To London – Product placement of British Airways.
- On Location with Peter Lamont – Handy cam footage of the locations scouted for the film.
007 Mission Control
- Film segments – Under these specific headings: 007, Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual, Q Branch, Exotic Locations.
To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Bond franchise, the production team went all-out to make a Bond film that both contained references to all of his past adventures and was also, in its own right, a thoroughly entertaining Bond adventure – looked at on purely those terms Die Another Day is a triumph. Although it was to be Pierce Brosnan’s last outing as the super spy he puts in a typically terrific turn in a story that has him captured and tortured for fourteen months, then battling a megalomaniacal North Korean colonel hell bent on invading the South. Judi Dench puts in another excellent performance as M and when she and Bronsnan share the screen the tension in electric – I dare say paving the way for Daniel Craig’s relationship with the same. Of the two Bond girls, Halle Berry is pretty flimsy, but Rosamund Pike is suitably cool with a character that gets to do rather more than simply be eye candy. Toby Stephens plays the main villain Gustav Graves with early promise but soon degenerates into a spoilt child. Long lambasted for outlandish gadgets (invisible car) and stunts (CG surfing) there is an argument to be made for it not standing up to modern interpretation; however, much like Moonraker before it, Die Another Day paved the way for a far more down to earth Bond and reboot that has invigorated the franchise like no other before it. Wild and fanciful it may be, but entertaining Bond it remains.
As a Blu-ray in the Bond 50 set the disc is very good; the picture is clean, bright though has suffered a little with DNR, but detail is still high, the surround track is absorbing and engaging and it is adorned with the same wealth of extras that filled the Ultimate DVD.
Bond has been served well by a phenomenal boxset timed to coincide with the arrival of Skyfall and the 50th anniversary of the franchise. Die Another Day forms part of the set along with the other twenty one films in the series, the majority of which look and sound terrific, contain a wealth of extra material as well as a separate and new disc full of extra features examining our favourite super spy. It comes with the highest recommendation.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £119.99
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