Never Say Never Again Blu-ray Review
Release Date: March 24, 2009
Run time: 134 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD-50
Sean Connery is back for his final performance as superagent James Bond in this high-velocity action thriller from the director of The Empire Strikes Back. When two atomic warheads are hijacked by the evil SPECTRE organization, Agent 007 is hurled into an explosive, pulse-pounding race to save the world from nuclear terrorists!
In 1965 Kevin McClory teamed with EON to make ‘Thunderball’ which he was contractually obliged not to exercise his rights to the James Bond character for ten years. Then in 1975 he would begin throwing around ideas for a 007 film titled ‘Warhead’ to multiple studios. McClory ran into a few issues over the years, but in 1983 his vision finally saw the day of light with the film ‘Never Say Never Again’. The film went up against the official James Bond film ‘Octopussy’ starring Roger Moore. ‘Never Say Never Again’ would go on to make $160 million dollars worldwide at the box office. While ‘Octopussy’ made $187 millions worldwide at the box office. This is not too bad for a film that isn’t a part of official James Bond canon, doesn’t have the Bond theme, or any of the familiar faces we enjoyed in the earlier films.
‘Never Say Never Again’ becomes a retelling of ‘Thunderball’ which is one of the best Bond films ever released. This was never intended to be a remake of the 1965 classic, but more of mesh of storylines from Fleming, Bryce, Whittingham and McClory. The promise was that we would see a whole new fresh take on Bond.
Sinister world terrorism organization “S.P.E.C.T.R.E” plots to steal two nuclear missiles from a U.S. Air Force base with the help of a corrupt serviceman, Captain Jack Petacee (Billy Mitchell). There is also Blofeld (Max von Sydow) as the man behind this whole operation. The evil Number Two, Maximillan Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), has had a love affair with Petacee’s sister, Domino (Kim Basinger) and Largo uses Domino as an asset to ensure Petacee’s defection to S.P.E.C.T.R.E’s ways. After the missiles are safely in Largo’s hands, Petacee is eliminated by Largo’s seductive henchwomen, Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera). Bond then travels to the South of France to inform Domino of her brother’s death and Domino then helps Bond save the world!
‘Never Say Never Again’ has one of the best casts of actors of any James Bond film. Besides Sean Connery, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow, Bernie Casey and Edward Fox are outstanding and very strong actors. Kim Basinger and Barbara Carrera’s over-the-top performance was a highlight. Even Rowan Atkinson was in there for good measure.
Print Quality: 8/10
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. While I found this release of the film to be excellent on Blu-ray as opposed to the DVD releases, there are a few issues with the print. There are times that you will notice the image looks pristine and then certain scenes come along that take away from what could have been a great transfer. In the scenes where there are issues, there tends to be too much noise in the background which in turn becomes distracting. At the beginning of the film, you will notice some print issues with white specs and dirt creeping up in the background. There are multiple scenes that look completely out of focus giving the image a dull and hazy look. Color management can vary in the film from looking passable for a film from the early 80’s to at times having a dull appearance. Black levels are rather deep. Scenes that were up close have a nice amount of details. The darker scenes in the film tend to also have some nice details with decent lighting. Albeit the issues with the print, this is still a rather decent looking film on Blu-ray that will make fans very happy.
Print Quality: 7/10
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. If there is anything that I can be disappointed in with this film, it comes down to the audio. Very rarely does this mix take advantage of the rears, and when it does, effects are very light. ‘Never Say Never Again’ could have greatly benefited from a better use of the soundfield with all the action sequences. This is a shame that the audio was overlooked because the remainder of the mix does sound fairly good. This turns into a front heavy audio experience with all effects and action being placed front and center. There are a few times where bass management does sound good and could have really been brought into the mix much better. It is boombastic at times and others just sounds too weak. Dialogue is clean and crisp through the center channel without any issues.
Audio Quality: 5/10
- “Commentary with Director Irvin Kerchner and James Bond Historian Steven Jay Rubin”
- “The Big Gamble” Featurette
- “Sean Is Back” Featurette
- “The Girls of Never Say Never Again” Featurette
- “Theatrical Trailer”
- “Photo Gallery”
All special features are available in standard definition.
Special Features: 7.5/10
The Final Word
‘Never Say Never Again’ is nowhere a bad film that fans have despised over the years. Actually this is one of the better Bond films released even though it was not through EON. This Blu-ray version of the film does trounce the last two DVD releases albeit a few flaws with video and audio. Now that MGM/UA own the rights to ‘Never Say Never Again’, I would love for an alternate version to be released with the Bond theme and gun barrel opening video sequence. I highly recommend this film to Bond fans and even those looking for an spy-thriller with nice mix of action.
Overall Rating: 7/10