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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

The World is Not Enough [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael Apted, 1999)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: MGM Pictures

Blu-ray: MGM Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 128 min

Chapters: 32

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Blu-ray case w/ slipcover

Release date: March 24, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 25 MBPS

 

Audio:

English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio. Spanish & French 5.1 Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese & Mandarin

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Director Michael Apted

• Audio Commentary with Peter Lamont, David Arnold & Vic Armstrong

• The Making-Of The World is Not Enough (15:06)

• James Bond: Down River (25:04)

• The Secrets of 007 (22:31)

• Creating an Icon: Creating the Teaser Trailer (4:26)

• Music Video by Garbage (4:01)

• Hong Kong Press Conference (9:46)

• Tribute to Desmond Llewelyn (3:22)

• Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes with Introductions by the Director (12:49)

• Alternate Angle Scenes (8:27)

 

 

The Film: 6
The first batch of James Bond films on Blu-ray from MGM included the final Pierce Brosnan film as 007: Die Another Day. This second group includes Brosnan's previous movie: The World is Not Enough. The plot, this time around, blends one of the staples of the genre, the theft of nuclear material, with an important contemporary concern: energy. In this case, control of that most durable of geopolitical resources: oil.

The concern at the beginning of the movie is somewhere else entirely, or so it would seem: the successful return of money used for the ransom of the beautiful heiress, Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). When her father is killed in the bargain, Elektra assumes control of her father's work to complete a competing pipeline across the Caucasus. Bond and MI6 become convinced that not only will there be another attempt on Ms. King's life, but the likely assassin is the man who kidnapped her in the first place, Renard (Robert Carlyle).

Bond is assigned to protect Elektra, who is generally dismissive of his intentions since, as she sees it, it was M's initial response to her kidnapping that led to her father's death. Other figures emerge: Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), a casino owner and ex-Russian mafia who may have information about Elektra's most recent attackers and, later on, Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards – harder to believe than the most far-fetched of Q's toys) an American nuclear scientist working at an old ICBM base in Kazakhstan.

Aside from Ms. Richards (and the painfully absent chemistry between her and Brosnan), The World is Not Enough boasts a strong supporting cast, though I can't say that it came to much. One villain in the person of Robert Carlyle should have been enough, but this movie has two, the other being an even more formidable opponent than Carlyle, if you can imagine such a thing. As it happens it is easy to imagine, since Carlyle's characteristic sadistic sneer and explosive personality is given a holiday in this movie.

Judi Dench returns as M (after coming on board in the role along with Brosnan in GoldenEye.) And Desmond Llwelyn, after 17 films as "Q" passes the baton on to John Cleese (as "R"?, Brosnan wryly asks.) Robbie Coltrane (whose character, Zukovsky, we first met in GoldenEye) was seen as Falstaff in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V and would later go on to play Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films. But it was in the mid-1990s British TV series, Cracker, that as Dr. Eddie "Fitz" Fizgerald he found a role suitable to his immense talent. Sophie Marceau made her mark on the international stage in 1995 at 29 as Princess Isabelle in Mel Gibson's Braveheart, having already had 15 years experience in French films.

I felt Pierce Brosnan to be the most convincing and engaging post-Connery Bond until Daniel Craig. I say this, though the older I get, the more I like Roger Moore. Moore may not be my idea of Bond exactly, but he makes entertainment out of formula. Though a little lightweight, Brosnan has wit, charm, and is comfortable in the action sequences. GoldenEye proved all that. Brosnan always had looks, he even looked great disheveled and unshaved as he does when released from a North Korean prison in Die Another Day. Craig, on the other hand, shows us a hard case Bond. Craig's Bond is really not all that much fun, but he has guts, intensity and determination. He's out to prove something from deep in his core, and he has the scars – emotional and physical – to show for it. Brosnan will likely be the last of his kind, so enjoy him while you can.

 


 

Image: 7/9
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

The World is Not Enough on Blu-ray looks good, but not exciting. Regardless of location, indoors or out - especially in comparison to the simultaneously released Goldfinger and Moonraker - there is a kind of contrast compression as if in attempt to deal with hugely variable lighting condition, such as apply during the Thames River chase. This condition is likely pre-transfer. The transfer itself blemish and artifact-free, with just enough shadow information in the dark and dimly lit scenes, of which there are many. The World is Not Enough demands that the image does not blow itself out either in the snow or on the Thames. The projected image has sufficient detail, regardless, though we never get to see very deeply into many of the interiors, I assume by design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/7
Considering the relatively recent vintage of this movie, I was surprised by its relative lack of pizzazz. Focus, dynamic contrast, LFE, even surround location cues – all struck me as less than what I thought I should expect. Dialogue is clear enough, as was the music, but when either or both is blended with the effects track I felt immersed but unclear. Neither the whizzing front to back speeding boats or helicopters are clearly located.

 

Operations: 5
MGM's menu for all the Bond films on Blu-ray, while quick to load, are clumsy and arcane, with vague and arbitrary titles like "Declassified: MI6 Vault" "Mission Control" "Mission Dossier". Why so obscure? Why are some features under one category and not another? Additionally, whenever you return to the main menu, you find yourself not where you left off, but at the beginning.

 

 

 

Extras: 5
Considering how recent this film is, The World is Not Enough does not seem to get the full Extra Features treatment. None of them are in high def and only two, I thought, are worth investigating: "James Bond Down River" is all about the filming of the boat chase on the Thames and what the crew had to go through to make it happen, including getting the cooperation of the Thames River Master. The 22-minute feature "The Secrets of 007" came as a surprise. It's a self-guiding tour of the stunt work in Bond films from Connery to Brosnan. Storyboards, live action behind-the-scenes footage, and the finalized scenes are imaginatively woven together in a short film as informative as it is entertaining.

The Tribute to Desmond Llewelyn is simply a short pastiche of Q moments over Llewelyn's many Bond films. The music video, performed by the dangerously named "Garbage," had great potential simply by relying entirely on imagery generated by the song and the creative talents of the producer, but before long toileted itself with the introduction of material from the movie – on split-screen, no less. Coward!

 

 

Bottom line: 6
The Blu-ray is good, but not exemplary on the usual counts (image, sound and extras). Given Amazon's present discount of better than 50%, 007 completists will be hard pressed not to pick it up. But except for Sophie Marceau, a woman of fascinating and unusual beauty, I can't say I was much intrigued.

Leonard Norwitz
April 3rd, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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