"The World Is Not Enough" is the 195th, er, I mean, 19th Bond movie and although it has a few moments of slow going, it delivers everything we've come to expect from the series. Interestingly enough, it was directed by Michael Apted, who has been known previously as directing moderately budgeted films(the excellent and overlooked "Extreme Measures") or documentary features.
Although I loved "Goldeneye", I hated "Tomorrow Never Dies". "The World Is Not Enough" has a different tone to it; a giant movie, certainly, but a less glitzy and more straightforward one. It's not earth shattering, but it provides what the entire series has: a couple of hours of solid, technically superb entertainment. If anything, the biggest problem of this film is that it almost has a hard time topping the opening sequence, a wonderfully thrilling speed-boat chase that is beautifully filmed.
From there, the plot kicks in, and it's a bit much for a series like this one. Something to do with oil pipelines in competition and stolen plutonium, with an evil oil heiress named Elektra King(Sophie Marceau) and a bad guy who feels no pain(Robert Carlyle) figured into the mix. Oh yes, and delightfully, Denise Richards ("Wild Things") plays a neculear scientist. She more than looks the part of a Bond girl, but she sometimes fails to hold her own against the rest of the cast.
Apted seems to be shooting for something more from the series with this feature, and for the most part, he achieves success with the picture. There are some things that didn't work for me though. Robert Carlyle tries well as the bad guy for this film, but the way the character's written, along with his intentions, don't really make for a thrilling villian. Brosnan though, does make a great Bond again here, and the supporting cast is quite good.
Again, it doesn't take the series really to any new heights, but it does a fine job providing an entertaining ride. The picture ends with the line, "James Bond Will Return". Well, duh.
VIDEO: This is gorgeous work from MGM! Images are razor sharp and clean, with excellent detail. Many of the scenes look so striking that they almost take on a three-dimensional feel. Colors are beautiful and well-saturated, and never show any signs of bleeding. Flesh tones are accurate and natural, and black level is excellent.
I really didn't see any problems with this transfer; it has a beautiful, smooth look that really takes it into the spot of one of the best transfers I've seen all year. No pixelation, no shimmering, and a print that's in crystal clear condition. "The World Is Not Enough" is tremendous work from MGM. Cinematography by Adrian Biddle ("The Mummy", "Aliens") is marvelous and well-presented here.
SOUND: It's a Bond movie, what do you expect? A phenomenal sound experience, of course. And "The World Is Not Enough" delivers that, and more. Surrounds are used very agressively and effectively, making for a very exciting listening experience. Gunfire is also remarkable, echoing from all around the viewer. As expected, bass is thunderous during the action scenes, delivering solid impact. The score by David Arnold("Godzilla", "Tomorrow Never Dies") is intense, and drives the movie quite well. Both dialogue and music are never overshadowed by all of the other chaos in the film.
MENUS:: Again, like the menus for the first series, MGM has done an outstanding job making the menus almost like a Bond gadget, with a computer interface that's both entertaining and easily navigated.
Commentary One: This is a commentary from director Michael Apted. I was quite interested in hearing what he had to say, and what it was like to take the step from independent/moderate budget films to something like the latest Bond flick. The director instantly starts the commentary off very well, talking about a number of different issues, such as how to make this Bond film look different by the use of new, exotic locations. And in terms of exotic locations, how he used his skills as a documentary filmmaker(the "7 up" series) to shape how the locations were presented. Of course, the director also goes into detail about how stunts were built and made.
Soon in, he does begin to mention what it was like on the early days of the Bond set, where Apted was faced with giant crowds outside and press coming in when he was inside. I liked what he said to wrap that sequence up; it's a public event, that's what you're getting into when you take the job. And an incredible job it is; Apted states that the opening sequence alone took 5-6 weeks to shoot. He also talks about the problems of the film's writing, where scenes would have to be tailored and expanded - most importantly, how to keep the film delivering the balance of action, complex characters, and keeping it all moving. Some sets had to be built before scenes were fully written.
There are a few small moments when Apted pauses for a moment, but overall, I was pleased by how solid this commentary was. The director is an enjoyable speaker and he certainly provided a lot of information about the making of "The World Is Not Enough".
Commentary Two: This is a commentary from production designer Peter Lamont, 2nd unit director Vic Armstrong and composer David Arnold. While the Apted commentary dealt mainly with tales from the set and working with the actors, this is more of a technical commentary that deals with how "The World Is Not Enough" came to be. With the three recorded together, they do a good job playing off each other's comments.
A lot of the scenes offer a role to talk about for each of the members of the discussion; Armstrong talks about many of the action sequences and how they were achieved while Arnold talks about the role that the music plays, while Lamont discusses the sets. Yet, they all let each other speak and never overlap or interrupt.
Arnold has much to offer, with an especially interesting comment in the opening sequence. The composer talks about how he had to keep the music during the length of the movie fresh and varied, and also, the role it had in the sound design, to keep details from being buried by the rest of the action.
Lamont and Armstrong also play a solid role in the commentary, talking about the magnificent sets and locations, as well as the complexity of the action sequences. They also talk freqently about how some of the shots were achieved, such as through the use of models.
In betweeen discussion of the production, the group talks about their thoughts on how well Brosnan and the other supporting cast fit into their roles. There are some small pauses in the commentary here and there, but with a number of viewpoints in play, there is a wealth of information offered on this commentary track.
Secrets Of 007: Although this is designed to be an option that you can select during the movie, MGM has thankfully allowed viewers to go directly to each featurette via a menu. What this section is is a series of short featurettes that detail how a particular scenes was shot, taking a look at not only concept art, but the actual production at work, as well as on-set footage. Available scenes to find the secrets of are: "Opening Jump", "Boat Chase", "Main Title", "Hologram", "Ski Scene", "X-Ray Vision", "Neuclear Facility", "Caviar Factory" and "Submarine".
Trailer: The original theatrical trailer is included.
Music Video: The video for the title track from "Garbage".
The Making Of "The World Is Not Enough": A very detailed, but rather short documentary which clocks in at about 15 minutes. Promotional in feel and nature, the documentary provides quite a few clips from not only the movie, but also behind-the-scenes footage. And, of course, there are a number of interviews with the main cast. It's not a bad documentary, but it really doesn't provide that much insight into the making of the film.
Final Thoughts:I thought "The World Is Not Enough" was entertaining...enough, with some great sequences, but a few little problems. MGM has produced a great looking (and sounding) DVD. The 2 commentary tracks are quite good, and the "secrets" section is well-produced. Highly recommended!.