Die Another Day Review
Die Another Day is the 20th adventure of the world’s most famous fictional spy, James Bond, in one of the worlds most successful and durable movie franchises.
Die Another Day starts with Bond (Brosnan) on a mission in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. He is trying to foil the dodgy dealings of a corrupt general, Bond however is betrayed by someone from within the British Secret Service and he also gets captured then later tortured by the North Korean army. Bond suffers fourteen months of interrogation and torture before MI6 reluctantly agree to trade Zao (Yune), a Korean terrorist who MI6 wanted to keep hold of.
M (Dench) is angry at the high price of Bond’s release so she decides to strip him of his status and freedom, believing that while under torture he may have cracked leading him to reveal details that could compromise operations they had going on in the area. However Bond escapes his imprisonment from a British warship and makes his way to Hong Kong, where starts his mission to find out who set him up during the assignment in North Korea.
Bond’s investigations lead him to Cuba where his attempts to capture Zao are thwarted by Jinx (Berry), a US secret agent who is also out to capture Zao for her government. From here the trail leads to a man named Gustav Graves (Stephens), an entrepreneur who is intent on using a weapon from space that is powered by diamonds in order for him to wreak havoc upon the world.
MI6 reluctantly agree to take Bond back as they feel the information he has gathered makes him useful again. With the aid of a host of new gadgets from Q (Cleese), including an invisible Aston Martin, Bond sets off for Graves’ ice palace in Iceland along with rookie MI6 agent Miranda Frost as they aim to put a stop to Graves before he can use his weapon to wipe out the 38th Parallel, the imposed dividing line between North and South Korea.
As mentioned above, Die Another Day is the franchise's 20th installment. It also marks the 40th anniversary of the series and as a consequence makes numerous fan-pleasing references to Bond’s past adventures - including a nod to Dr No in which Halle Berry recreates the famous emergence from the sea first done by Ursula Andress in 1962 and the appearance of lots of familiar gadgets from previous films in Q-Branch’s storeroom.
The opening chapter of the movie is one of the strongest of the series, as Bond does not get to walk away from the opening mission with his usual wry smile and quips. For the first time the title sequence continues the story and we see Bond being beaten heavily, leaving him barely recognisable as the suave and sophisticated agent that we all know and love. After this the movie settles back into normal bond mode for the second act. Here we have bond doing all his usual snooping and mixing it up with the villain as he makes his way from Cuba to Grave’s ice palace. The final act has bond escaping the ice palace with the help of his invisible car and then teaming up with Jinx to board a plane containing Graves. It is now up to Bond and Jinx to restore control of the plane and destroy Grave’s weapon.
Brosnan is now very comfortable in the role of Bond which he pulls off with effortless ease and charm. Halle Berry put in a good performance as Jinx and is a strong female character who is more than a match for Bond. John Cleese reprises his role from The World Is Not Enough, although he has now officially taken over as Q after Desmond Llewellyn’s death. Cleese makes the role his own with some great backhand remarks to Bond that would have made his predecessor proud. Gustav Graves is admirably portrayed by Toby Stephens and Rosamund Pike stars as MI6 agent Miranda Frost and proves to be a good female foil for Bond whilst he’s on duty. We even get a brief appearance from Madonna as Frost’s fencing coach and she also sings the films theme tune. Most critics have called the theme song awful but it does improve the more you listen to it and we mustn’t forget that Bond is over forty years old and that the theme tune is obviously going to change to keep with the times.
This is the first Bond film to come with 2 DVDs. It comes in the familiar amaray packaging and the menus are fine and are easy to navigate all designed with a Bond theme with music from the film in the background. It also comes with a double-sided inlay and a collector's booklet.
The picture is framed in 2:35:1 and it is a good transfer, although one negative thing about it is that unfortunately to the point where it occasionally over emphasises the blatant poor use of special effects. However having said that the flesh tones and colour are very pleasing throughout and there is a high level of image detail and the blacks are solid.
The sound is very good and for the first time we get a Bond film with a DTS soundtrack. You can choose between either Dolby Digital EX or DTS ES. If you have the right equipment it will automatically decode the EX and ES signals for you. The soundtrack is rich, multi layered and vibrant with lots of thunderous chases with the sounds of bullets and vehicles being panned right across the soundstage. The cracking up of glaciers of ice under the beam of the orbital weapon produces great bass effects. The more subtle moments are also well layered and add atmosphere to quieter scenes. Both tracks are great but the DTS works slightly better across the whole soundstage with greater dialogue definition.
Disc one contains two sets of audio commentaries.
The first is by director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G Wilson. The two work well together and they mention little bits of information like in the UK we get a longer sex scene. The second is by Pierce Brosnan and co-star Rosamund Pike. It reveals the 007 actor to be a charming man and he’s very aware of what makes Bond such a well-loved character. Apparently both people were recorded separately with Rosamund Pike’s comments being inserted into the long pauses by Brosnan.
This disc also contains a feature called MI6 DataStream. This is an option you can choose to watch the film with onscreen information about all aspects of the production and occasionally branches into behind the scenes featurettes, there are 19 in all.
Inside Die Another Day (77 minutes)
This is an in depth look at the making of the film. You can either watch the key sequences in the program separately or you can choose to watch it as a whole.
Shaken and Stirred on Ice (23 minutes)
A special documentary that covers the breathtaking Icelandic car chase. This shows you the obvious perils that the cast and crew faced with shooting a chase sequence on a frozen surface.
From Script to Screen: REGION 2 EXCLUSIVE (52 Minutes)
This is another lengthy documentary. This is a very well presented piece that follows the films production from the initial script meetings to the end of production. It focuses more on the business side of things and is less glamorous than the official documentary; it is however an excellent look at the time and effort that goes into making a Bond movie. It is good to see that Region 2 has extras that the Americans don’t so kudos must go to MGM for its inclusion.
Scene evolution offers you the chance to watch multi angle presentations of the hovercraft chase & the car battle sequences as either storyboards or split screen with the finished product.
The inter-action section lets you use your multi angle function button to view scenes from several different camera positions. The sequences are the hovercraft chase (4 angles), Antonov fight (2 angles), Blades duel (2 angles) and the car battle scene (4 angles).
This is a series of Five CGI featurettes detailing the gadgets used in the film.
Title Design (10 Minutes)
This is a look at the opening credits for the movie. It shows how they were shot and digitally manipulated. When your watching this make sure the sound is down because an awful soundtrack accompanies this piece.
This is a short but fascinating look at how the designers used computers to control the weather (Not literally of course) but they can use the computer to change the contrast, and colour of a scene. For example when they shot the scenes for Cuba in Spain the skies were overcast but with a little bit of manipulation they could change it to instant sunshine.
This contains over 200 stills ranging from portrait pictures of the cast, to location photos and images of props and vehicles. Also contained within the image database is an easter-egg called Hi Jinx. You access it by going into the sets and locations menu of the image database. When you reach a picture of Halle Berry emerging from the water you press enter on your remote control or click on it with your mouse if you’re using a PC to access a multi angle presentation of Jinx’s emergence from the water.
The Ministry of Propaganda
This contains trailers including 2 teaser trailers and the theatrical trailer, along with several TV spots and a trailer for the other James Bond Special Edition DVDs. There is also a trailer for the computer game Nightfire along with a making of the game. We also get the video for Madonna’s theme song along with a making of for that video.
Die Another Day may not be the best bond movie but it opens in spectacular fashion and keeps the momentum going throughout with plenty of gun play, double entendres and enough explosions to keep even causal and Bond fans alike very happy indeed and if that isn’t enough it is all backed up by an excellent extras package the best yet for a Bond release on DVD.