The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: MGM/UA - 1983
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 134 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Surround, Spanish/French Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Thai, Cantonese
Starring: Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max Von Sydow, Barbara Carrera, Kim Basinger, Bernie Casey, Alec McCowen
Directed by: Irvin Kershner
Music by: Michael Legrand
Written by: Lorenzo Semple Jr. based upon the story by Kevin McClory, Jack Whitingham, and Ian Fleming
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 24, 2009
"Sean Connery returns as Agent 007"
Sean Connery is back for his final performance as agent James Bond in this high-velocity action thriller...and now you can experience it as never before with this explosively entertaining Collector's Edition with an all-new audio commentary and three never-before-seen featurettes! Agent 007 is hurled into a pulse-pounding race to save the world from Armageddon when two atomic warheads are hijacked by the evil SPECTRE organization!
Never say never again was my very first experience with Sean Connery as James Bond. I was 19 when it came out and prior to that the only 007 I knew was Roger Moore. I thought he was terrific in the part and was surprised to learn that he was the original Bond. I subsequently saw him in his earlier stints as the character and could see why I really liked him in the role. It was interesting to see the history behind the film and the legal issues surrounding it. I think that the idea of portraying Bond in this light and the remake' of Thunderball was pretty well done. Getting Connery to do it was a bold move on Producer Jack Schwartzman's part and I think it paid off (literally). Watching it now it's strange not to have the Bond Theme and requisite personalities/characters in place. After recently reviewing many of the older Bond films the break with the traditional storyline/flow and some of the smaller aspects associated with the character was noticeable. That is not a criticism but is merely an observation. I haven't seen this film in years but I remembered liking the story. Seeing it now I thought it held up pretty well although after just watching Quantum of solace the action sequences seemed to pale in comparison. I couldn't escape the feeling that it had that old style villain tradition of coming up with complex schemes to dispose of the good guy. The idea of killer sharks fitted with tracking devices to lure them to a homing device that has been planted on the good guy seems pretty passé. But, hey, that is how the bad guys operated back in the day. How much fun would it be if they simply shot him in the head?
SPECTRE is up to their world conquering tricks with the acquisition of the two atomic warheads. The all but defunct 00's have seen little service and James has spent the last few years teaching and trying to stay sharp by participating in simulated situations. After the discovery of the stolen warheads James is sent in to quell the situation and recover them. He matches wits with Maximilian Largo/SPECTRE and has to face off against femme fatale Fatima Blush. James is assisted by his American counterpart Felix Leiter and later by the beautiful Domino Petachi. There is plenty of action, espionage, and Bond style charisma to go around. Being a remake, it doesn't have to fresh appeal of Thunderball and the fact that it seems to come from a vein that has little connection to the other films left it feeling different. I don't think that is a bad thing necessarily however there seemed to be an underlying sense of imitation rather than originality. It really doesn't matter because even on its own Never say never again is a fine film that maintains the essence of the character and gives us another glimpse of Sean Connery in the role that made him a household name. I am glad to see it released on Blu-ray Disc as it is certainly deserving of that recognition.
The rating is for thematic material, sensuality, and action violence.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Never say never again comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox/MGM featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 mbps.
I thought that overall quality here was good but fidelity wavered at times. Grain had a prominent and inconsistent presence that I found occasionally distracting. There were times when it was rendered naturally and others where it came in waves that made backgrounds (light and dark) look noisy. I was impressed by the resolution and level of discernible detail present in the many of the close ups and some of the mid level camera shots. Images were resolute, with good fine object rendering that brought out plenty of minutia in the physical features of the cast. Along those lines wide angle and long range visuals had appreciable depth and above average clarity. This wasn't the case exclusively and a few times resolution fell off quite a bit. Two examples can be found at the 00:47.14 and 1:07.58 marks. The first occurs as James first encounters Fatima at the outdoor bar on the pier and the second while James speaks to Domino in the video game room. In both cases the video takes on a soft, non delineated appearance where the background looks blurred and faces become almost colorless and waxy. The scene where James and Largo play the world conquering video game offers inconsistent video quality which transitions from one camera angle to the next. One looks dull, almost smeared and the other is delineated and sharp. Something similar occurs at the conclusion of the tango dance number between James and Domino. Several sequences (such as the one that begins with James watching Domino as she sits in the game room) were filtered which gave them a hazy white glow that was sometimes used in films during that period. That wasn't a problem as they appeared to be cleanly and consistently rendered over the course of the film. I noticed some minor speckles and debris on the print but they were negligible. Those observations aside I would say that the majority of the time images were vivid, with good textural quality and naturally rendered colors. Black levels were stable and shadow detail was above average in most cases. Other than some minor digital noise I didn't see any obvious signs of compression related anomalies or artifacts.
The soundtrack is presented in lossless DTS-HD 5.1 MA and Dolby Surround options. I used the 5.1 channel lossless track during my evaluation. Dialogue was impressive as it had excellent soundstage presence, solidity and room penetration. Channel separation wasn't as distinct as I have heard but panning sequences across the front were seamless. Dynamics were about what you might expect from a recording from this era. Explosions, gunfire and similar sound effects, sounded dated and lacking in potency as they were reproduced almost exclusively through the front speakers with notable center channel emphasis. I noticed that the music score and underwater sequences did make use of the entire system which enhanced spatial dimension and offered discernible low frequency weight. The variance left the mix feeling unbalanced in this regard however the effects weren't detrimental. I thought that this presentation was good but could have been better.
- Commentary with Director Irvin Kershner and James Historian Steven Jay Rubin
- The big gamble - 16 minute documentary
- Sean is back - 8 minute feature
- The girls of Never say never again - 10 minute feature
- Theatrical trailer
- Photo gallery
Never say never again isn't considered a classic Bond film but it is certainly a unique one. Its storied history and the presence of Sean Connery alone make it a desirable addition to the collection of every Bond fan. Add to that the fact that it is a pretty entertaining movie and it's a no brainer for those who appreciate 007. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox offering an interesting set of bonus supplements that are highlighted by the Big Gamble featurette which contains some worthy insights from those involved in the making of the film. The audio/video quality is good but ultimately left me wanting. I would imagine that this disc will offer those with the DVD a noticeable bump in overall quality so feel free to upgrade. If you like this movie but never got around to buying it this is a great time to pick it up. Recommended.
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