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Tomorrow Never Dies: Ultimate Edition

If March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb, it's fair to say Pierce Brosnan's James Bond films tended to come in like Sean Connery and leave like Roger Moore. Even at their best, Brosnan's 007 outings got progressively sillier as their running times went on, leading to electric gloves, remote control cars, and all sorts of other hi-tech tchotchkes. Unfortunately, 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies hits a patch of goofiness early on and never recovers. The premise is that global media magnate Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) creates chaos between England and China to help sell his magazines, newspapers, and TV shows. Or, basically, what would it be like if Robert Murdoch was evil (or more evil, if that's how you feel about Fox News). Even so, it's a pretty thin evil mastermind plan to hang a 007 movie on. Bond first gets Carver's attention when he flirts with his wife, Paris Carver (Terri Hatcher), and then sleeps with her. Such leads to her murder, and Bond to some evidence of Carver's wrongdoings. Shortly thereafter he partners up with Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh), who is with the Chinese Secret Service, and the two work together to take down Carver. Like a junkie poker player, the Bond franchise is just as likely to follow up a winning effort with losing all the goodwill that a solid entry engenders. As such, Tomorrow Never Dies followed Goldeneye (1995) and joins a long line up of bad Bond. From Roger Spottiswoode's bland direction, to a plot that serves as little more than set up to set pieces that fail to deliver, to the double entendres that hit a series low, this is simply a nadir of the franchise. The only bright spot is the presence of Michelle Yeoh, who was recruited because of Hong Kong films such as Supercop and The Heroic Trio. Even when the movie is less than (which is all too often), she exudes the charm that made her famous, and when allowed to have a fight scene all to herself Tomorrow Never Dies comes close to coming alive and delivering some truly breathtaking action. But such moments are few and far between. Fox/MGM's two-disc "Ultimate Edition" DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio. Extras on the first disc include a commentary by director Spottiswoode and friend Dan Petrie Jr., as well as a second track by stunt coordinator and second unit director Vic Armstrong and producer Michael Wilson, along with an isolated score track. On Disc Two there's deleted and extended scenes (14 min.) with introductions by the director, an "Expanded angles" section (13 min.) introduced by Spottiswoode, the behind the scenes period piece "Highly Classified: The World of 007" (58 min.) that's hosted by Desmond "Q" Llewelyn, franchise-comprehensive "The Secrets of 007" (45 min.), a storyboard presentation for many of the film's action sequences (28 min.), a special FX reel (3 min.), an interview with composer David Arnold (3 min.), Moby and Sheryl Crow music videos, two trailers, a stills gallery, and "007 Mission Control," which offers highlights of the franchise's repeated trademarks. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case. Available in MGM's "James Bond Collection: Volume 4."
—DSH



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