Licence To Kill Blu-ray Review
'Licence to Kill' blasts its way on to this Region A locked Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer that's nicely framed at 2.35:1.
There's no lack of saturation to the colours (as I found with 'The Man with the Golden Gun') on this one. The lush, verdant greens in foliage, the healthy looking skin tones and the blue as blue can be skies are back in evidence. We're back in lovely Eastman colour (as printed by Technicolor) land here folks. Furthermore we have amazingly dense blacks, as witnessed when Bond visits Milton Krest's sealife emporium at night. The detail in the night shots is very well resolved too, such as when Bond and Bouvier arrive by boat at the most dangerous night spot outside of the Barbary Coast.
This is a very smooth transfer and grain is hard to spot, so it may have had a bit of digital tinkering to achieve this effect. Normally this would result in a slight loss of sharpness, but there's no way that criticism could be levelled at this transfer. It's sharp as a tack and yet it still has a natural filmic look. I'd go so far as to say that it's approaching reference quality - and for a 20 year old movie, that's good going.
Originally released with a Dolby Surround track, 'Licence to Kill' arrives on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 remix as well as the original sound mix to keep the purists happy. By comparison I'd say that the new lossless track is cleaner, clearer and with more punchy bass than the original mix. I stuck with the new sound mix while viewing the movie and I found that it gave extra presence to the action due to added ambience from the main stereo pair and subwoofer, with only sporadic use of the rears for individual effects. The weight of the sound field is very much locked to front centre, left and right speakers with dialogue being clearly defined and separated from music and effects for clarity. The Gladys Knight title song is given a helpful lift and the music score is given more room to breathe by the new track. Probably not the most dynamic soundtrack I've heard this year, but very good nonetheless.
- Audio Commentaries
'Licence to Kill' features two separate audio commentary tracks. The first features director John Glen and members of the cast hosted by a narrator, suggesting that it was pooled from different original sources. The second edited together commentary features Michael G. Wilson and members of the crew. Between them they provide a good insight into the production, but you really need stamina to sit through both.
- Inside 'Licence to Kill' (HD/SD mix, 30 mins)
This featurette that accompanied the most recent DVD release is a mixture of standard and high-def interviews with various people involved in the film. Much of the material is covered in the Comm, tracks but it's nice to see people rather than just hear them.
- Behind the Scenes (SD, 5 mins)
A short look behind the scenes of the movie, focussing on work on the set.
- Kenworth Truck Stunt Film (SD, 10 mins)
This mini featurette showcases the trucks that were specially designed for the stunts in the finale of the film.
- 'Licence to Kill' Music Video (SD, 4 mins)
For a pop video, the audio on this is pretty poor but it takes us back to 1989 with Gladys Knight and memories of the title song on the chart shows of the time.
- 'If You Asked Me To' Music Video (SD, 4 mins)
Similar to the Gladys Knight video including the oddly poor sound but this time with Patti LaBelle.
- Bond '89 (SD, 12 mins)
This comprises a series of interviews highlighting Tim Dalton and his approach to playing Bond.
- On Set With John Glen (SD, 10 mins)
This short features the director in some audio commentary that mostly covers the same ground as his commentary track mentioned above.
- On Set With Peter Lamont (SD, 5 mins)
Another behind-the-scenes short, featuring production designer Peter Lamont, who explains the challenges he faced with shooting in Mexico for the movie's fictional setting of Isthmus City.
- Ground Check with Corky Fornoff (SD, 5 mins)
This short interview gives a glimpse at the work of aerial coordinator Corky Fornoff who discusses the aeroplane stunts.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 11 mins)
John Glen introduces some deleted scenes that pretty much show why they ended up on the floor.
- Trailers (SD/HD, 3 mins)
Nice to see how the movie was promoted at the time of release.
- Image Database
A mix of B/W and colour stills taken at various locations during the production of the movie.
'Licence to Kill' touches down on Blu-ray with a near reference quality 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer which does justice to the work of the cameraman, framed as it is at 2.35:1. The rich, lush colours impress you right away in this wonderfully smooth, pin sharp but natural looking release.
The audio has been remixed into a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround track and it adds punchiness to both the music and action sequences, while adding ambience to the generally front weighted soundstage.
The Extras give us a good insight into the behind the scenes work, especially in the commentary tracks by director John Glen and producer Michael G Wilson.
Perhaps one of the more overlooked Bonds, it was Tim Dalton's last and he paved the way for changes to be made in the future. A no-brainer buy for Bond fans.
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- Audio Commentaries