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|Category||Bond||Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette - Inside Licence To Kill
Audio Commentary - John Glen (Director) et al
Audio Commentary - Michael G. Wilson (Producer) et al
Featurette - Production Featurette
Featurette - Kenworth Truck Stunt Featurette
Music Video - Gladys Knight: Licence To Kill
Music Video - Patti LaBelle: If You Asked Me To
|Running Time||127:24 Minutes|
Fox Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Macrovision||Yes||Smoking||Yes, and it's the last Bond film in which this occurs|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, the usual Bond product placements|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The bad: Pam Bouvier, played by Carey Lowell, whose biggest claim to fame is literally slashing Law And Order's ratings in half after stepping into the spot vacated by Jill Hennesy. Thankfully, her successor, Angie Harmon, can act and doesn't look like she thinks she's doing the audience a favour by being there.
The ugly: this transfer, but more on that in a moment.
In any case, if I had been watching James Bond films at the time when Roger Moore announced that he was quitting the role to let another actor step into the shoes of the world's most famous secret agent, I would have cheered happily. I've actually met people who believe that secret agents behave the way that the James Bond played by Moore did during his frankly feeble tenure, and it never ceases to amaze me. Anyway, after stepping into the role and bringing the real James Bond back, Timothy Dalton was called upon to take a risk similar to that which George Lazenby took with On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Essentially, the writers wanted to use a plot other than the one that had been recycled for fourteen of the previous Bond films, and if you want to see a good reason why Bond simply hasn't survived the move into the twenty-first century, it is the collective intolerance to change exhibited by Bond fans.
Licence To Kill is widely regarded as being the second most underrated episode in the Bond franchise, with On Her Majesty's Secret Service being the first in line to that dubious honour. This is pretty ironic considering that so-called Bond fans denounce this episode when it is actually the closest in spirit to Ian Fleming's novels, even in comparison to the Sean Connery episodes. Like Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton is more believable in the role of James Bond than any of his predecessors, simply because he behaves the way you'd expect from a professional in the situation depicted here. The Dalton version of Bond is prone to fits of rage and anger like a real human being, but above all else, he is prone to taking things personally. As the tagline states, his bad side is a dangerous place to be.
The story of the film itself is extremely simple in nature, in spite of having far more layers than most other Bond films. James Bond (Timothy Dalton) attends the wedding of his best friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) to Della Churchill (Priscilla Barnes). Unfortunately, just prior to this wedding, Felix had been engaged in arresting a rather nasty drug lord by the name of Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), and Sanchez manages to escape just before the honeymoon. It all ends in tears as Felix is fed to the sharks, with James coming to Felix's home, finding Della dead and Felix with major injuries that preclude him from continuing service as a DEA agent. Naturally, Bond is very upset about this and requests that he be assigned to continue the investigation of Sanchez's activities.
After Bond's request is refused, he neglects his assignments and displays the sort of behaviour that you'd expect after some drug lord has your best friend fed to the sharks, which results in M (Robert Brown) deciding to strip Bond of his authority (hence the title) and place him under arrest. Bond, of course, has other ideas, and proceeds to carry out a personal vendetta against Sanchez with the help of Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and a rather poorly-cast Bond girl named Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell). So, on the positive side, we have one of those instances where the real James Bond is committed to film, one of the better actors to play Bond, a more active Q than usual, and some of the best stunt sequences the series has ever seen. On the negative side, we have the second worst Bond girl the series has ever seen (numero uno being Teri Hatcher in Tomorrow Never Dies), some extremely dated music, and a generally dated look to the overall picture.
To cut a long story short, if you're after everything that has made the Bond franchise what it is today (same old recycled plot, extremely moronic villains, and a cardboard cut-out Bond), then I advise you to give Licence To Kill a miss. However, if you enjoy such episodes as On Her Majesty's Secret Service because of its actual character development, or episodes such as The World Is Not Enough and GoldenEye because they feature a Bond who acts like a real secret agent, then Licence To Kill will be one of the few Bond films you'll consider worthy of purchasing.
The transfer is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is generally very sharp, although other elements lead to believe that the interpositive used to create this transfer must have been in shocking shape. The shadow detail of the transfer is good, but not great, and there is no low-level noise.
The colours in this transfer, though dated, are rendered quite faithfully to how they were originally photographed, with the unusual colour schemes in the sets being particularly impressive. Occasionally, skin tones would become a little too red, but this is probably the best representation of the colours in this film we're likely to see for some time, barring a proper restoration effort.
MPEG artefacts aren't a problem in this transfer, but film-to-video artefacts, specifically aliasing, are quite a major annoyance. The worst examples were at 2:58, 13:34, and 58:15, at which points the entire picture literally seemed to break out in shimmering that took over from the overall picture. I counted an average that alternated between one and two aliasing artefacts per minute for the first hour of this feature, after which the transfer settled down to showing aliasing once every two minutes or so. Compounding the problem was the presence of numerous film artefacts, with scratches and spots of at least four different colours making their way onto the picture (hence the comment earlier about the shape of the interpositive). All in all, this is a very disappointing transfer considering the relative youth of the film.
This disc makes use of the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place in the middle of Chapter 23 at 91:53. This is right in the middle of a movement from one actor, and sticks out like George Lazenby at a Bond convention.
Three soundtracks are provided with this audio transfer: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 448 kilobits per second, and two English audio commentaries, both of which are in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and a bitrate of 224 kilobits per second. I listened to all three of these soundtracks, but I will comment more on the commentaries in due course.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, although I kept the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles on anyway in order to learn the names of some characters. Now if only there was an option to seamlessly replace Carey Lowell's dialogue with something more tolerable. There were no discernible problems with audio sync, save for some suspect sound effects.
The music in this film can be divided into three parts: a score by Michael Kamen, a theme song called Licence To Kill by Gladys Knight, and a closing song by the name of If You Asked Me To, performed by Patti LaBelle. The score by Michael Kamen is passable, but generally shows the same fault as most of the Bond films after On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in that experimentation was obviously a big no-no. Now, it has been widely held that opening theme songs are generally reflective of a Bond film's overall quality, but in contrast to Live And Let Die, a pathetic Bond episode with an excellent theme, Licence To Kill is a superior Bond film with a pathetic theme song. I swear that if I hear the words "got a Licence To Kill, and you know I'm going straight for your heart" again, I'm going to experience cliché-and-lameness rage!
The surround channels are aggressively utilized during the action sequences to support the sounds of passing aircraft, whizzing bullets, and boat engines, just to name the most obvious examples. Two standout occurrences of surround channel usage occur when Timothy Dalton is surprised by a shark at 27:22, as well as when Timothy Dalton and Carey Lowell are startled by a ship's horn at 54:57. Occasionally, the sound field became somewhat monaural, but these moments were few and far between. The subwoofer received a great deal of usage to support explosions, gunshots, and all the other action sounds you'd expect from a Bond film. It was quite well integrated into the overall soundtrack.
It is interesting to note that this is the first time Licence To Kill has been presented uncut on any format in the Australian market.
The video quality is very disappointing, marred by excessive aliasing.
The audio quality is very good, although not nearly as impressive as later episodes in the franchise.
The extras consist of the usual fluff from the Bond
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|