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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 4/28/00



The World is Not Enough

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

The James Bond Special Edition DVD Collection


The World is Not Enough: Special Edition

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
The World is Not Enough
Special Edition - 1999 (2000) - MGM/UA

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/B

Specs and Features:

128 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 42:18, at the start of chapter 12), Amaray keep case packaging, featurette The Making of the World is Not Enough, 2 audio commentaries (one with director Michael Apted and another with production designer Peter Lamont, 2nd unit director Vic Armstrong and composer David Arnold), theatrical trailer, The Secrets of 007 Revealed (9 behind-the-scenes clips accessible during feature via multi-angle option), The World is Not Enough music video by Garbage, booklet, "computer interface" style animated film-themed menu screens with sound and music, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: French and Spanish, Closed Captioned

"I thought Christmas only came once a year…"

Yeah... I know. That quote is a tiny bit of a spoiler, coming as it does at the very end of The World is Not Enough. But for those of you who haven't seen this film, don't worry. I mean, given that one of the Bond babes in this flick is named Christmas... and this IS a Bond flick... it's not like you wouldn't have seen it coming, right?

The World is Not Enough is Agent 007's nineteenth big screen adventure, and it marks Pierce Brosnan's third turn as Bond. Directed by the capable Michael Apted, this should have been (and could have been) one of the best films in the series. Sadly, it was not to be.

The plot here isn't as straight-forward as pre-Cold War Bond films, so one needs to pay closer attention to the little details. As the film opens, 007 is investigating the death of an MI6 agent. It seems that a British oil tycoon, Sir Robert King, purchased a secret Russian report on the black market for a very large sum of money - a report which was stolen from the murdered agent. The deal was brokered by an underhanded Swiss banker, and Bond's putting the pressure on him to reveal the identity of the killer. He refuses, and just as Bond is about to insist, a sniper kills the banker. Bond manages to escape with the money, and reports back to headquarters, where M (Judi Dench) is conferring with King. It seems they're old friends - M helped King previously, when his daughter Electra (played by Braveheart's Sophie Marceau) was kidnapped at the hand of terrorists (she eventually managed to escape). But when King goes to collect his newly-returned money, he sets off a bomb in the money that kills him.

Bond realizes that he was set up - he was meant to return with the money (and the bomb) all along. He also realizes that the assassin and the person who kidnapped Electra are one and the same - none other than an anarchist and terrorist, named Renard (played by Robert Carlyle from The Full Monty). Renard's an odd bloke, in that he's got a bullet lodged in his brain that's slowly killing him. But in the meantime, it's destroying his senses one by one... meaning that he feels no pain. Renard's killed King, and now M thinks he may be after Electra. So M orders 007 to protect her until Renard can be stopped. But revenge against the King family may not be Renard's only game. And to stop him, Bond will have to enlist the help of "allies" old (Valentin Zukovsky, played by Robbie Coltrane) and new (Dr. Christmas Jones, in the form of actress Denise Richards). See - I told you it wasn't straight-forward.

There are only a handful of problems with this film, but they're big enough to really hamstring it. The first, is the lack tangible conflict in the form of a real threat, thanks to an almost completely uncompelling villain. Carlyle is miscast as Renard - just how scary can an anarchist be anyway? Not very in this case. The setup with Renard as a brain-damaged maniac is cool... but then you never see him being really good and maniacal. Bond needs better villains - plain and simple. Also a problem here, is the fact that the story seems to meander at times, and the action often seems pointless. Sure, there are plenty of set piece action sequences, but they don't really go anywhere. A lot of people came out of this movie with the opinion that Bond looked old. But I think Brosnan's still got the stuff - look at Roger Moore's later turns at the character for God's sake. THAT'S old. Frankly, I think he's just bored. And it doesn't help that he's sucking face with babes that could be his granddaughter, by which I mean a SERIOUSLY miscast Denise Richards. Come on - do you see Richards as convincing a nuclear weapons expert? Richards has trouble playing herself in most films, much less an expert at anything. Whoever cast this flick is in dire need of a career change.

One thing that warms (and saddens) the heart with The World is Not Enough, is that the film marks the final appearance of Desmond Llewelyn as 007's trusty gadget-man, Q (Llewelyn died in a car accident shortly after the film was released). In an eerie bit of serendipity, Q actually introduces us to his own replacement in the series, the bumbling R (played by Monty Python's John Cleese). Cleese is a talented (and more than welcome) addition to the cast, but Llewelyn will be sorely missed.

On DVD, The World is Not Enough doesn't quite match up to previous Bond special editions, but it's not too shabby either. The video on this DVD is very good, with just a few minor issues. The color saturation and accuracy is excellent, as is the contrast. Blacks are deep, yet nicely detailed. There's one scene in particular where I noticed this - late in chapter 8, when M is briefing Bond. Look at the wood and stone work on the walls. It's plenty dark, yet you can still see plenty of grain and texture detail. Very nice. I did notice that on multiple standard TVs, some of the text in the opening credits seemed to be crowding the edges of the screen, but it looked fine on an anamorphic display. I also noticed a slight bit of digital artifacting in a couple of underwater shots, but nothing distracting. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio only comes in English flavor, but it's a very good surround sound mix, with solid bass and plenty of nifty rear channel and panning tricks (including a good bit with flying saw blades in chapter 25). It's isn't really Earth-shattering, but it's plenty fine as action movies go.

The extras are also good, but aren't quite up to the level of what we've seen on Bond DVDs before. Included here are a pair of commentary tracks, one with Apted and another with members of the production team. They're fine but not completely insightful - worth listening to and yet kind of bland at the same time (rather like the film, actually). There's a 15-minute featurette on the making of the movie, that the disc's packaging actually has the nerve to call a documentary. It's hosted by this inane woman who clearly knows nothing about this franchise (at one point she actually tells Brosnan during her interview how amazed she is that her local video store has a section just for the Bond films - ouch). You also get a trailer, a really interesting music video for the title song by the band Garbage (where we see the lead singer "constructed" as a sexy robot assassin), and the usual production note booklet. Probably the most interesting extra here, is something called The Secrets of 007 - a set of "behind-the-scenes" video clips that you can watch from the special features menu, or during the film using the alternate angle button (a la The Matrix DVD's Follow the White Rabbit feature). If you activate this option, the "007" icon will appear during certain scenes (9 in all) letting you know that you can click over and watch alternate footage relevant to the making of that particular scene. And I shouldn't forget to mention that all of this material is accessible via the ultra-cool animated menu screens we've come to expect and love on the Bond DVDs (see samples below), created by the talented folks at 1K Studios (as always, VERY nice work!).

The World is Not Enough is rather disappointing as Bond films go. It's almost like the producers of this series have just forgotten how to really open up the throttle in terms of the script and the drama. I don't know how many more turns actor Pierce Brosnan is planning to take as 007, but I really dig him as the character, and I hope he gets a real grand slam home run at bat before he hangs up his shoes. I'm keepin' my fingers crossed...

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com

A look at 1K Studio's animated menus for The World is Not Enough...
The World is Not Enough menu animation

The World is Not Enough menu animation

The World is Not Enough menu animation


The James Bond Special Edition DVD Collection

The World is Not Enough: Special Edition


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