If you've seen one Bond movie, then you've seen them all, and Die
Another Day is no different. In this latest installment of
the James Bond series, we have expensive cars, larger than life
action sequences, beautiful women, crazy hi-tech gadgets, and one
cool-as-a-cucumber secret agent, the same tried and true recipe
for all Bond movies. But it's these kinds of films that make
going to the movies fun. After all, if people ever got tired of
seeing these movies, the studios would stop making them. But they
do continue to see these movies, and Bond is alive and kicking.
Does Die Another Day stand out as the best Bond movie
ever? No. Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it a must-have for your DVD
collection? Mmmm, maybe, maybe not.
Let's dive into the story before hashing out the good and the
ugly. Bond is on a secret mission to assassinate a dangerous
North Korean military psychopath. But before he can successfully
complete his mission, he is betrayed, and is captured for over a
year. During his capture, he is tortured on a daily basis, but
never talks. (The duty of every true secret agent) On the day of
his perceived execution, he's traded for another infamous Korean
psychopath who was captured earlier. But instead of receiving a
welcome-home party, Bond finds himself confined to locked
quarters, and is relieved of his duty. The British Secret Service
believes Bond cracked under torture, and gave away vital
information. So naturally, Bond wants revenge, and wants to find
the person who betrayed him. Mix in some diamonds, and an
overpriced space age tanning machine, and you've got yourself a
Okay, lets start with the bad. There were two specific things
that really bothered me about this movie. The first is the
casting of Halle Berry. Berry plays an American NSA agent named
Jinx. Sure she's nice to look at, but as a Bond girl? No way.
Quite frankly, Barney the Dinosaur on sedatives would have been
more menacing and believable as a lethal US agent. Her cream puff
swagger and sassy sense of humor left me hoping that she wasn't
going to get much screen time, and unfortunately, she appeared on
screen more than I would have liked. But I did like that she
didn't take the role seriously, a definite no-no in a James Bond
film. But in the end, her character was all-wrong for her
Secondly, many of the gadgets and action sequences were too
farfetched, even for a Bond film. The ice wave surfing scene
comes to mind for starters. Not only did this look incredibly
fake, but the idea of Bond being able to pull this off was
laughable. If the scene had looked more realistic, it would have
been much cooler. Also, some of the gadgets were poorly chosen.
For instance, the camouflage capabilities of Bond's Aston Martin
Vanquish were way over the top to be believable. Granted, in
theory this kind of technology is believable, but for it to work
as well as it did, is pretty close to impossible. I felt like I
was watching Harry Potter instead of a James Bond film. I think
the Bond series kind of shot its own foot with this special
effect, because now there's no reason it can't be used to great
extent on all future double-O agents' equipment. But despite all
the gripes, there were some positives to the movie. Such as the
great action scenes like the opening surfing sequence, and the
good old fashion sword fight. And don't forget the sweet car
battle scene in Iceland. Plus, I'm always impressed with Pierce
Brosnan's portrayal of 007. He's intense, he's soave, and best of
all, he makes it look oh so easy. That's how the Bond character
needs to be played, and only Sean Connery did it better.
When it's all said and done, Die Another Day is a great
action movie that entertains if you know what you're getting
into. Like any Bond film, you have to let your hair down, or
you'll spend the whole movie saying, "yeah right, like that
could happen!" Brosnan's acting was great, Berry's was
weak, and the movie should have ended about 30 minutes sooner,
but all in all it was an enjoyable movie. And with the nice
package of special features, this DVD is not a bad choice for
your home collection.
Video: Die Another Day is offered in
both widescreen and full screen editions. By now I'm sure you all
know where we stand on which one is the better choice, so I won't
go into it. The widescreen version is presented in 2.35:1 and is
anamorphically enhanced. The feature looks quite stunning, as so
it should, being as it was in theaters just a short while ago.
Colors look fantastic, and black levels are as dark as you'd
expect. There was just one aspect of this transfer that hugely
disappointed me. This movie has a hefty dose of edge enhancement
that is very noticeable on most scenes. I'm really starting to
get sick and tired of studios bumping up the edge enhancement.
When are they going to get the message that raising the
"perceived" sharpness of a DVD transfer doesn't make
the movie look better? But other than that, this DVD looks great.
Audio: Now this is a great sounding DVD. Both a
Dolby Digital 5.1, and a DTS audio track are offered. Both tracks
are fabulous, and really put you smack in the middle of all the
outrageous action. Toggling through both tracks, it was hard to
pick a clear winner, but if I had to pick, I'd give the nod to
the DTS track. In the scenes I referenced, the highs seemed a
little crisper. But you won't be disappointed no matter which
track you listen too. You'll have plenty of whizzing rockets,
fiery explosions, and that oh so wonderful rumble of the Aston
Martin to invade your eardrums. In short, audio on this DVD is
active, exciting, and worth turning up the volume to show off to
Extras: Die Another Day is a two-disc
set loaded with a lot of interesting special features to peruse
through. Rather then blabbering on about them all, I'll just list
them for your reading pleasure.
Audio Commentary: The first commentary if given
by Director Lee Tamohori and Producer Michael G. Wilson. This is
a fairly straightforward commentary that gives all the expected
notes and filming tidbits about the movie. Both Tamohori and
Wilson seem very laid back, almost to the point where it's boring
to listen to them. But Tamohori is witty and very informative, so
if you love commentaries, you'll find yourself sitting through
the entire take.
Audio Commentary: Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund
Pike give the second commentary. I probably enjoyed this audio
commentary a little more because of the light sense of humor
portrayed by Brosnan. He makes it fun, and shows that these
movies aren't to be taken too seriously.
Inside Die Another Day Documentary: This is a
nice segmented lot of small featurettes that give us a
behind-the-scenes look at the making of Die Another Day.
There aren't a lot of indebt discussions about the way they
filmed the movie, but it does expose you to some interesting
items such as locations and the problems they had with choosing
and filming at them.
Scene Evolutions: (storyboard comparisons) Here
you get to see a comparison with the finished shot, along with
the storyboards originally drawn for the script. It's worth a
quick look, but that's about all.
Inter-Action Sequences: Here you get to see
action sequences from multiple angles.
Title Design: Here's a look at the opening
Digital Grading: This is a digital effects
Equipment Briefing: This section allows you to
get in indebt look at all of the cool equipment and gadgets used
throughout the movie.
Image Database: Here are a few photo galleries
taken during the movie's production. These galleries are used
like a slide show, and I must admit, it's worth a look.
Madonna's "Die Another Day" Music Video:
Here's her video of the title song, "Die Another Day."
It's a cool video, and I'm very glad it was included on this DVD.
Also included is the Making of Modonna's "Die Another
Day" Music Video. This was also interesting to see.
Check 'em out.
Rounding out the rest of the features are a Making of "007
Nightfire" video game, movie trailers and TV spots, and some
DVD-Rom goodies as well. Overall this was a nice collection of
features, but I would have liked to see a bloopers reel, and
definitely a indebt featurette on the vehicles used in the movie.
Die Another Day is a great action movie that can take
you on a decent thrill ride if you let your hair down. It's fast,
exciting, and full of cool cars and gadgets. And lets not forget
the kick-ass audio track that really intensifies the viewing
experience. Sure it's not the best Bond movie ever made, but it's
far from the worst. If an irritating Halle Berry and a host of
unbelievable action sequences don't scare you off, then this
movie is worth a rent at least. And if you idolize our favorite
British secret agent, then this DVD is a no-brainer. Recommended