Die Another Day: Special Edition

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, Dolby Surround (French, Spanish), DTS 5.1 ES (English). MGM Home Entertainment 1004346. PG-13. $29.98.

Picture ***
Sound ***
Film **1/2

Is it just me, or are the James Bond films becoming harder to sit through? Pierce Brosnan is the best Bond since the irreplaceable Sean Connery, but the continuing effort to top previous outings is stretched to the breaking point in Die Another Day. Old Bond films are ripped off shamelessly (Hollywood calls these moments "homages"), and the technology is more over-the-top than ever. Why are we worrying about North Korea's nuclear capabilities when they apparently have their own super transport planes, cloaking devices, gene-resequencing program, holodecks, and doomsday weapons that make nukes look like firecrackers? Or so it says here.

But hey, these films have always been like that, and if you're not jaded by the concept—this is, I think, the 556th Bond actioner—there's plenty of fun to be had here, not to mention Halle Berry (who, fortunately for us, probably committed to this gig before she won her Oscar). The video transfer is okay, though a bit too much edge enhancement, combined with softness in many long and medium shots (close-ups are fine), keeps the rating from climbing higher. The audio is a little scrappy and in-your-face, including the blaring music score—another Bond tradition.

The extras include an option that, throughout the film, overlays information on the screen about some point or other of action or plot or prop, together with occasional pop-in cast comments and "making of" tidbits. There's also a storyboard deconstruction feature that breaks down the action in various ways, a database with information about the various gadgets used in the film, trailers, a music video, additional "making of" shorts, DVD-ROM features, and more.

If you're a fan of the Bond films, you get your money's worth. As you likely will in the next episode. And the next. And the next . . . —TJN