The disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p, AVC MPEG4 encode, transfer and is Region free.
Having been subject to the same lavish clean up provided by Lowry as all the movies in the set I was initially a little disappointed by the overall presentation, yes it’s clean, bright and detailed, but it doesn’t quite have that air of excellence that the later films exhibit. Detail is, for the most part, strong, skin texture is good, backgrounds have plenty to pick out, while most other surfaces maintain a reasonable quality: clothing has decent weaves, dashboard (or cockpit) instruments are well defined, sand (or snow) has a good surface etc. There are numerous instances where the image softens, but this is nothing to do with the transfer, merely an artefact of the filming process. Indeed the ‘Afghanistan’ filming is some of the best of the film with stark contrast between the blue sky and red desert terrain. So whilst it is not a defect it doesn’t quite manage to impress as well as it wants to.
Colour is pretty good, the primaries coming across with a decent sense of fervour; the first half of the film is slightly weaker in terms of colour boldness, but that might be a conscious choice to reflect the ‘cold war’ climate. Skin colour in this section is slightly thinner, though natural looking while the skies are somewhat pale. Once the action moves to Afghanistan thing really improve with some much needed boldness to the pallet, reds and blues have a vibrancy to really show off the heat of the desert.
Brightness and contrast are set to give deep and true blacks that really add a punch to the picture at times, with plenty of shadow detail going on, take a look at Bond’s tux, you can still make out the folds in it!
Digitally there are no compression problems, though there was the faintest whiff of edge enhancement present, no banding or posterization problems though. Grain has been retained to give a terrific filmic sheen without ever becoming intrusive. On the whole, for a film of this vintage, it scores very well from me.
I concentrate on the English dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Just like the picture the sound has undergone a thorough clean up has also been remixed with great care and attention. First and foremost is how opened up the sound field now seems, there is plenty of separation across the frontal array for both music and effects. Surround speakers are used to give plenty of ambience, such as in busy streets, the opera, funfair or shootouts, and add much to the surround field without becoming noticeable. Dialogue is clear, coherent, sounds perfectly natural throughout and is never in any danger of being lost within the mix. The score provides plenty of opportunity to place you in the centre of the action with Barry’s update on the James Bond Theme being of particular delight. Bass is well managed, grounding everything in reality, but never overbearing, as such there is not the thunderous under current that many modern blockbusters go for, LF effects are frequent and prove the sub with plenty to do, but it seldom reaches down to the depths that seem to be a pre-requisite of the modern action film. On the whole this is a very engaging track.
- Audio Commentary – Spiced together commentary narrated by David Naylor who introduces each participant who, in turn, presents there recollection of the making of the film; obviously ‘bitty’ by nature nevertheless contains a wealth of information.
Declassified: MI6 Vault
- Deleted Scenes – Includes an intro from director John Glen; two scenes: Magic Carpet Ride and Q’s Lab
- Happy Anniversary 007 – Hosted by Roger Moore, a simple ‘made for TV’ feature celebrating the film series’ 25th birthday.
- Silver Anniversary featurettes – Four vignettes of a couple of minutes each, entitled Cubby Broccoli, Maryam d'Abo, Around The World With James Bond and The New Bond Car.
- Timothy Dalton: The New James Bond / Vienna Press Conference – Four minutes as Tim discusses the character.
- Timothy Dalton On Acting – Six minutes with Tim discussing his career.
- Dalton & d'Abo – Five minute interviews.
- The Ice Chase with Director Introduction – Outtake of the cello snow-boarding escape.
- Inside The Living Daylights – Half hour making of featurette.
- Ian Fleming: 007's Creator – Forty five minutes discussing Bond’s enigmatic creator.
- The Living Daylights Music Video – By A’ha
- The Making Of The Living Daylights Music Video – Shorter than the song.
- Exotic Locations – Four minute tour of the locations in the film.
Ministry of Propaganda
- Theatrical Trailers
Image Database – Fourteen stills galleries with plenty of pictures to get your teeth into.
The Living Daylights is Shakespearian actor Timothy Dalton’s first outing as James Bond in which he significantly changes the persona that has been around for fourteen previous films. His interpretation was drawn from the books; he was far more serious, ruthless and cunning even, as well as the trademark wit and charm. It was a far cry from what audiences were used to seeing and paved the way for the likes of Daniel Craig as the latest 007. The film contains many of the traits that make a bond film; action, gadgets, exotic locations, political intrigue set to the backdrop of world politics – the fact that the main villain of the piece is not a typical megalomaniac hell bent on world domination, or the fact that the top assassin didn’t have a memorable personality or tricks (save strangulation with personal headphone wires) does not detract from what is a terrific globetrotting yarn. The story involving a weapons dealer double-crossing the Russians and setting up a potential East-West confrontation is involved enough to keep you guessing and enables Bond to use some detective skills as well as his pistol to discover the truth. New Bond girl Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy is a far cry from what audiences have come to expect, but she fits well within the confines of the film and adds to the believability and realism that the makers were striving for. As good as any debut Bond feature The Living Daylights comes highly recommended.
As a Blu-ray package this disc is served very well, the picture is clean and bright with good contrast and colour and the sound is of particular delight being very immersive if a little bass light. The extras content is significant and examines everything you should wish to know about the film.
Bond has been served well by a phenomenal boxset timed with the arrival of Skyfall and the 50th anniversary of the franchise. The Living Daylights forms part of the set along with the other twenty two 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.
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