|Never Say Never Again|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 27 March 2009|
It is no surprise that Fox/MGM launched this film at the same time as "Quantum of Solace." I supposed it is because both films have something in the plot dealing with oil. I guess they figure it is timely.
"Never Say Never Again" picks up with Connery being tested. He is a bit out of shape and is order to go to a health clinic. It is there that he gets attacked after witnessing the man with the fake eye. The worldwide governments soon discover that Largo has snaked two nuclear warheads from the United States' collection. For some reason it is up to the British secret service to reclaim the weapons.
The British government reinstates the double "o's." Largo makes it easy for the government and sends a ransom video message that indicates exactly who he is. Bond is deployed to the Bahamas where he gets tangled in a ring of sharks, almost blown to bits and much more. A member of the CIA joins Bond and they set up in a villa in order to keep an eye on Largo.
Eventually, Bond finds himself aboard Largo's ship. He works his angle with Domino (Kim Basinger), the girlfriend of Largo. Of course, this incites a reaction from Largo, when he catches the two kissing in the dance room. Largo sets a course for North Africa where he plans to use the warhead to blown up a well known as Tears of Allah. Apparently there is oil under there. But that is all a bit sketchy.
I must confess that I have never been a big Bond fan. Nonetheless, this Bond film leaves me bored to tears. Like "Quantum of Solace," there is nothing in the way of plot that makes the film interesting. Bond hops from girl to girl as usual and follows clues that are unknown to the audience in order to get somewhere that he already knows of.
Connery is decent as Bond, but didn't seem to be all that into the gig. It was nice to see Kim Basinger in a Bond film, although her part in the film was just average. She didn't have much to work with. The acting by Brandauer, Largo, is way over the top that it is tremendously cheesy. Bond fans are better off watching Connery in "Goldfinger," which has also been released on Blu-ray.
I was a bit disappointed with the video quality of the Blu-ray transfer. After seeing the transfers for "Dr. No" and "Thunderball," made about 20 years earlier, I can't understand why the picture quality of "Never Say Never Again" turned out lousy. There is a tremendous amount of film grain, which is not all that distracting except for a couple of sequences. The print source is extremely dirty, filled with dust, dirt and scratches. There is some banding. There does not appear to be any compression or motion artifacts. The contrast levels are decent, as are the black levels. Shadow delineation is inconsistent, but is good for the most part. The colors are washed, which is the principle of 1970s/1980s cinematography. Details are hazy. The overall image suffers from a fuzzy nature. There are several instances in which close-ups go completely soft to the point in which the face is hardly recognizable. This transfer does not hold up well against the previous Bond Blu-ray releases. It is better than the standard definition release of the film and is a worthy upgrade for fans.
Like all previous Bond Blu-ray releases, the film has been remastered with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track. The original audio track, a Dolby Stereo Surround track is also present on the Blu-ray. I found the 5.1 track to be a worthy upgrade. There are instances in which discrete effects pan throughout the surround channels. Dialogue is a bit weak. There are instances in which the clarity of the dialogue becomes muffled. The whole soundtrack has a gap in the upper-mid frequency range. Effects and dialogue have strong fundamentals and low frequency resonances, as well as strong sibilants. However upper resonances are missing, leaving a slightly muffled soundtrack. The LFE channel is not the best, however it does come in during a couple of the more explosive sequences. After listening to the 5.1 remix of the film is difficult to deal with the psychoacoustics of the stereo track.
Unlike the other Bond Blu-ray releases, this film does not come with extensive special features. There is an audio commentary with director Irvin Kershner and James Bond Historian Steven Jay Rubin. In addition the disc contains three featurettes; "The Big Gamble," "Sean Is Back" and "The Girls of 'Never Say Never Again.'" Lastly the disc has a theatrical trailer and a photo gallery.
"Never Say Never Again" is really only for the Connery Bond fans. The film does not have a terrific plot and goes on too long for where we end up. The video quality is okay, but nothing to get excited over. The audio has been nicely upmixed to 5.1, but is not worth it by itself. Overall, I would recommend taking a look at this if you are a Bond fan and owning it if you are hardcore Bond fan.