Tomorrow Never Dies: Special Edition

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Bond Booklet
Main Menu Introduction
Audio Commentary-Vic Armstrong (2nd U Dir) & Michael Wilson (Prod)
Audio Commentary-Roger Spottiswoode (Dir) & Dan Petrie, Jr (Friend)
Isolated Musical Score
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-The Secrets Of 007
Storyboard Comparisons-9
Featurette-Special FX Reel
Crew Interviews-Interview With Composer David Arnold
Music Video-Tomorrow Never Dies-Sheryl Crow
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Rating Disc Rating
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 114:02 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (80:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Spottiswoode, Roger

Starring Brosnan, Pierce
Pryce, Jonathan
Yeoh, Michelle
Hatcher, Teri
Baker, Joe Don
Dench, Judi
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Arnold, David

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score 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
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Tomorrow Never Dies is my favourite Bond movie, and it was a pleasure to review what is a re-release of this DVD, in order to bring it into line with the Special Edition treatment befitting all Bond movies from MGM. It just seems to work wonderfully well, whether viewed as a Bond movie or not. Contemporary, stylish and sophisticated are the usual hallmarks of this genre, and it is here in ample helping.

    The premise is simple yet elegant, and almost believable in today's media-driven climate. Entrepreneur Elliot Carver, played with gusto by the wonderful Jonathan Pryce has just taken control of the biggest media enterprise on Earth, and he wants to launch it with a bang. To do this he arranges, via his henchman, what appears to be an international "incident" involving Chinese warplanes and a British naval vessel. Having created the seed, he then milks it for its worth using his mighty empire of TV, press and radio, and in doing so brings the world to the brink of warfare. It's up to James Bond to save the world again.

    Pierce Brosnan is, in my mind, well-equipped as 007 himself, and he lends his own flair to the character which perhaps only Sean Connery matched. So much so that indeed the late Desmond Llewelyn confided that he believed Pierce was the best of the Bonds. Who am I to argue with him?

    Originally released as a standard issue DVD over two years ago (wow, that long ..), this new Special Edition has much more to offer and is a much slicker package overall, so much so that I would recommend its purchase even if the reader has the older version.

Transfer Quality


    This is a very satisfying transfer in many ways, and only barely misses out on being of reference status.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Filmed using anamorphic lenses, the film itself has a limited depth of field which results in blurred background objects, a quality which agrees with me. It also means that foreground objects have to be placed precisely to be in sharp focus, with little tolerance for error. This results in the transfer not always being amongst the sharpest, and certainly softer than many modern films shot using spherical lenses. However, the detail level is high and certainly very pleasing to me. Black level was extraordinarily deep at times, and shadow detail was sometimes wanting. A number of very dark scenes were close to being lost to darkness, but always managed to just hang in there. Low level noise was evident only during the darkest of scenes.

    The colour palette is a striking one, making use of strong blues at times. There were hints of chroma noise in the strongest blues, again especially during darker scenes. There were no instances of colour bleed. Skin tones were on the whole very natural, only rarely appearing stronger than usual.

    The transfer is without MPEG artefacting of any kind, save for ever-so-slight posterization of bright lights during some underwater scenes. Happily, there were no instances of aliasing at all, probably a result of the transfer being slightly soft. I noticed only a handful of very minor film artefacts, making for a very clean presentation.

    I was upset to find that on-screen location titles were provided by the player, instead of being part of the video as per the original release of this DVD. This results in nasty, low resolution titles instead of the more tasteful ones used previously. Whilst I can understand this makes multi-region releases of the same print possible, it does detract from the glossy look of the film at those times.

    This disc is dual-layered and RSDL formatted, with the layer change well placed between chapters 23 and 24 at 80:46.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is a fine soundtrack, and it is not a surprise to find this title being used to demonstrate many a home theatre setup at any given display store.

    There is one English soundtrack on offer, being in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the full 448 kilobits per second data rate. Second is an isolated music-only score at the same bit rate. Also on offer are two audio commentary tracks in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround at 224 kilobits per second. MGM are to be commended for their use of the preferred higher bit-rate Dolby Digital soundtracks as promoted by Dolby themselves.

    Dialogue is presented very well indeed on the whole, with barely any traces of looping, though some do crop up. Vocal quality was constant and very easy to understand. There were no instances of lip-sync errors.

    The score by David Arnold is strikingly good. It is both contemporary and outrageous, though not outrageous as could have easily happened. As ever, the venerable Bond theme is worked in seamlessly from time to time, and it is a real treat even now, never seeming clichéd. It is no surprise to me that he was charged with doing The World Is Not Enough as well as the next Bond movie to be released next year. The score was always working with the action, and never called undue attention to itself other than simply being very, very stylish.

    Surround activity was constant and very effective. There is a real sonic atmosphere to this movie, with no particular bias given to any hemisphere of the room. Especially convincing were panning of objects, be they missiles or aircraft, as they whizzed around. Sometimes back-to-front panning was a little obvious, but on the whole the sound is luscious and very room-filling. Of particular note are the many instances of in-phase rear surround usage, making for some effective placement of effects directly behind the listener. This would seem to be an ideal candidate for THX EX processing methinks.

    The subwoofer was used almost constantly for the myriad of explosions, gun shots and aircraft used throughout the movie. It is pleasing to know that any minute now the room will rumble with an imminent explosion, and a modern Bond film can almost guarantee that. Integration with the main channels was seamless.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync 
Surround Channel Use 



    A typical booklet, this one deals with the Bond issues as a whole, and is only peripherally concerned with Tomorrow Never Dies.

Main Menu Introduction

Audio Commentary - Vic Armstrong (2nd Unit Director) & Michael Wilson (Producer)

    In this, the first of two commentaries, Vic Armstrong and Bond veteran Michael Wilson anecdote about production, and we thank them for their time.

Audio Commentary - Roger Spottiswoode (Dir) & Dan Petrie, Jr (Friend)

    Far and away the better of the two commentaries, here Roger Spottiswoode is delicately prodded along by questions from friend Dan Petrie, Jr. Both are relaxed with each other, and together they combine fluidly to produce a warm and detailed production account. I was particular interested to hear Roger Spottiswoode's thoughts on 2.35:1 filming using anamorphic lenses, which he enjoyed for the first time in this movie. He shot for the format, and early on decided to pay no heed to protecting the frame for lesser aspect ratios. The results speak for themselves. This commentary is also noteworthy for being very clear, aided by the high 224 Kilobits per second bitrate no doubt.

Isolated Musical Score

    A very well-recorded score is this, and with the good grace of the producers has been isolated and encoded at the preferred, full 448 kilobits per second Dolby Digital data rate. It is superb in presentation and a treat for those who enjoy such things.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    As with all the Bond special editions, the menu is a tour-de-force of good design, looks and ease of use. What is especially impressive is that all of the menus are unique and constant in quality throughout the Bond range.

Featurette - The Secrets of 007

    A very interesting and seemingly fast-paced 43 minute expose of the 007 mystique - the girls, the gadgets, the stunts - narrated by Peter Coyote. In truth, we have seen all this before even down to the pre-built station breaks (which should have been removed), but nonetheless this was quite entertaining. Presented in 4:3 and in very clear Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. It was interesting to note that the video was composite sourced, with chroma dot crawl abundant.

Storyboard Comparisons

    In an attempt to present storyboard to film comparisons, the producers this time chose to overlay transparent boards onto live action, with disappointing results. The boards are frequently difficult to make out with all the action beneath them. There are nine selectable chapters. What I did find curious was that the actual scenes were 16x9 enhanced and 24fps, so we get to see PAL with pulldown. Blechh!

Featurette - Special FX reel

    What a ripper of an extra! To some cool Bond techno-mix music we get to see a continuous montage of shots both before and after in quick succession. Some of the effects, like the CGI helicopter blades are superb. This was a very good if brief snippet at 2:52 minutes.

Crew Interviews - Composer David Arnold

    Here's a young man who loves his trade. A short 2:31 minute interview with a composer who knows what he wants and how to elicit it as he demonstrates his approach to the car park chase scene.

Music Video - Sheryl Crow

    The clip to the opening sequence theme, done in a very good Bond style, though with a little less class. The 4:3 video is somewhat soft, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound is quite indistinct and disappointing, and runs for 4:16 minutes.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in 16x9 and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, this is just a superb trailer both in quality and style. The video is every bit as good as the main feature itself, and the sound mix is of very high quality indeed. (2:15 minutes)

Teaser Trailer

    Again, faultless 16x9 video and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. A very good teaser and a very good inclusion into the extras. (0:57 minutes)

Notes - Gadgets

    A closer look at the "Sea Vac", the BMW (drool) and the Phone. Selecting either of these three brings some text and animation. Nifty, but limited in quantity.


    As in the standard edition of this movie released some time ago, we have an identical R2 sourced and censored version on the special edition. Michelle Yeoh's throwing stars are gone, and some fight scenes have been reduced in impact.

R4 vs R1

    Both versions appear to be identically specified, so it comes down to whether you prefer a higher resolution image in the local PAL release, or the correct audio pitch in the R1 release along with no censorship.


    As the 18th Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies is a very entertaining and worthy instalment. Pierce Brosnan is perfect in his role, with just the right amount of suave needed, and Jonathan Pryce's superb over-acting is right on the money for a Bond villain.

    The video is extremely good.

    The audio is reference and is a very modern, enveloping movie soundtrack.

    A stunning array of extras round off this package and make it truly a Bond experience which demands to be in your collection. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Cordingley, Paul (bio)
Sunday, June 03, 2001
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A-360, using S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of The Ultimate DVD Platinum.
Audio Decoder Built in to amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimode
Amplification Sony STRDB-930
Speakers Front - B&W 603 Series II, Centre - B&W LCR6 Series II, Rears - B&W 603 Series II, Subwoofer - B&W ASW500 Active.