Never Say Never Again (1983)

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Released 8-Aug-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Bond Booklet
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 128:19
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Irvin Kershner
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Sean Connery
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Max Von Sydow
Barbara Carrera
Kim Basinger
Bernie Casey
Alec McCowen
Edward Fox
Case DV-4
RPI $36.95 Music Michel Legrand


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Never Say Never Again is the second of only two "unofficial" James Bond films ever made (the other being Casino Royale). The term "unofficial" refers to the fact that they were not produced by the Broccoli family and EON Productions and not originally distributed by MGM/United Artists.

    The story behind why the film was made could almost be made into a film (except whoever who did it would get sued from 5.1 different directions).

    Back in the late 1950s, screenwriter Kevin McClory collaborated with author Ian Fleming to adapt one of his James Bond novels into a script for a film. They eventually settled on a wholly original script instead of an adaptation called "78 Longitude West." Financing for the film fell through, but unknown to Kevin, Ian then took the ideas contained in the script and wrote a novel called Thunderball. When Kevin found out, he was furious and sued, which is why if you read a copy of Thunderball today it credits Kevin's name along with Ian's.

    Kevin then sold the film rights to Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, in return for 20% of the film's profit, a producer's credit, and the option to remake Thunderball 10 years after its initial release date. The film version of Thunderball as we know eventually became a huge box office success and Kevin became a rich man. Ten years later, he decided he wanted to exercise his right to make a remake. Legal battles between him and Broccoli, plus the fact that studios were reluctant to get involved kind of stalled the idea until Kevin managed to persuade Sean Connery (who had in fact retired from the role of James Bond for a number of years) to return as the star. Connery was also credited as a producer and apparently had some creative control. Coupled with director Irvin Kershner (Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back) the hype was that finally the audience would be able to see the return of the "real" James Bond as opposed to the Roger Moore Bond, who was rapidly losing relevance.

    However, the film turned out to be only a pale shadow of Thunderball, although it was moderately successful at the box office when it was premiered. Although elements of the plot are similar, they are different enough that it doesn't just feel like a remake. The title of the film is a reference to Connery saying that he will "never again" play the role of Bond.

    The plot starts off with Bond (Sean Connery) being told by a new, unsympathetic, "M" (Edward Fox), that he needs to shape up and he is sent to a health farm ("Shrublands"). As expected, he becomes chummy with the female staff but in the meantime also manages to get a whiff of suspicious activities surrounding one of the patients, Captain Jack Petachi (Gavan O'Herlihy) and his "nurse" Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera). Fatima of course actually works for rich European industrialist Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), and Largo is none other than "No. 1" in the terrorist organisation SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter Intelligence, Terrorism and Extortion) headed up by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Max von Sydow).

    It turns out that Captain Petachi is a crucial element in a plot to "kidnap" two nuclear missile warheads in order to extort world leaders into coughing up lots of money to fund SPECTRE's operations. Bond is sent to try and investigate Largo. In what must be one of the worst Bond scenes of all time, he ends up playing a video game with Largo and dancing the tango with Largo's mistress Domino (Kim Basinger). Domino turns out to be Captain Petachi's sister.

    Along the way, we get the usual assortment of action sequences, including car chases, underwater scenes featuring sharks, lots and lots of explosions and a completely over-the-top ending. Whoever did the cinematography must have had a fetish for high-heeled shoes, because the camera keeps zooming in on Barbara's shapely legs perched on top of spikes. Bernie Casey plays a black Felix Leiter, which is a refreshing change, and Rowan Atkinson has a cameo role as "Nigel Smallfawcet." Alec McCowen plays a very Cockney version of "Q" (referred to as "Algy" in the film).

    Apparently, Kevin McClory is still interested in making yet another remake of Thunderball (tentatively called Warhead), and the legal battle still rages. Well, good luck to him.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Given that this film has been shown zillions of times on TV in pan and scan format, it is refreshing to finally be able to see the film again in all its 2.35:1 widescreen glory, and the transfer does have 16x9 enhancement. In addition, a relatively clean film source was used.

    However, that's about the only good things about this transfer. Blurry, lacking in contrast, and with muddy colours, this transfer is not easy on the eyes. Worst of all, it features poor to mediocre black levels and owners of LCD video projectors should stay away from this if they can. There is also low to medium amounts of grain present which decreases the detail levels even further.

    Fortunately, the transfer does not have any film to video artefacts that I can detect.

    There are only two subtitle tracks on this disc: English and English for the Hard of Hearing. I'm not sure why you would need or want both, but there you have it. I turned it on briefly just to check that the tracks were there.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change is extremely well placed (63:09) right on where the camera pauses for a split second on the cigar box that Bond pretends is a bomb. I did not even notice it the first time I played the disc and had to go specifically hunting for it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (224 Kb/s).

    This is not a good audio track. Have you ever heard how a cassette tape sounds like when the head is out of alignment? This is exactly how this audio track sounded to me - the high frequency content seems attenuated and insubstantial, and the audio in general lacks body and substance. In addition, there seems to be an audio dropout at around 1:50. Thank goodness the situation improves as the film progresses but the audio quality is still well below average.

    At least the dialogue is reasonably easy to understand and there are no audio synchronisation issues.

    The original music score is by Michel Legrand. Nothing spectacular.

    This is supposedly a surround encoded track, but the amount of rear speaker activity is quite minimal and limited to ambience. The subwoofer was not engaged during the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Given that this is the "black sheep" in the Bond family, it doesn't quite get the special edition treatment that the official Bond films get. At least Fox managed to maintain consistent packaging with the other Bond films and included a booklet.

Menu

    The menus are 16x9 enhanced and feature background audio as well as animation. The look and feel of the menus are reminiscent of the Bond special edition DVDs but minus any significant extras.

Booklet   

    This is an 8 page colour booklet containing cast listing, production notes, an explanation of the widescreen format and chapter titles. I'm glad they took the trouble to put in some production notes, even if they coyly avoid all mention of the controversy surrounding the making of the film.

Theatrical Trailer (1:22)

    This is presented in 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0. The audio quality in this trailer is substantially better than the audio in the film itself.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    There's not a lot of difference between the two versions. If the Region 1 version is uncensored, then I would have a slight preference for it.

Summary

    Never Say Never Again is an "unofficial" Bond film starring Sean Connery, with a storyline based on Thunderball. It is presented on a DVD with mediocre audio and video transfers, and minimal extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Monday, September 24, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
he also did - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)
R1 DVD is superior - Mike Lam
Missing scenes? - Neil