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In the film that launched the James Bond saga, Agent 007 (Sean Connery) battles the mysterious Dr. No, a scientific genius bent on destroying the U.S. space program. As the countdown to disaster begins, Bond must travel to Jamaica where he encounters the beautiful Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) and confronts the megalomaniacal villain in his massive island headquarters.
For more about Dr. No and the Dr. No Blu-ray release, see the Dr. No Blu-ray Review
Starring: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson
Director: Terence Young
» See full cast & crew
Dr. No Blu-ray Review
Bond's first adventure shines on Blu-ray
Reviewed by Ben Williams, October 21, 2008
When it comes to iconic film characters, you'd be hard-pressed to find one as well known and loved as James Bond. I recently read an article that mentioned that James Bond and his code name 007 have a 97% world-wide awareness among consumers. That's a pretty startling number that most corporations would kill for. It is also an amazing statistic considering the character's humble origins as the subject of a series of pulp novels from English writer Sir Ian Fleming. As Britain's most famous export, Bond has been revered for half a century around the world. Today, his popularity is at an all-time high. This popularity can be traced straight back to the subject of this review: Dr. No. It was the first Bond film and not only started the Bond film franchise, but also the career of legendary actor Sean Connery. Dr. No is not just one of the finest Bond films ever made, it is also a true film classic.
When a British MI6 signal station in Jamaica goes silent, Her Majesty's Secret Service deploys James Bond (Sean Connery) to investigate the problem. Bond arrives in Jamaica to discover a complete infiltration of English intelligence networks by a ring of unknown agents. He'll team up with American CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) and a host of Jamaican operatives to investigate the problem and uncover the mysteries of Crab Key - - an island off the coast that is shrouded in secrecy. Crab Key is the home base of the evil Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), a deranged scientist with a nefarious plan to crash US rockets. Once Bond infiltrates Crab Key, he'll encounter the beautiful Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) who has her own score to settle with Dr. No.
Dr. No is a tremendously entertaining film. You can watch in it a variety of ways: as a throwback to the 60s spy genre, as the genesis for James Bond on film and as a cultural snapshot of the sexism and freewheeling attitude of the early 60s. Bond is the ultimate man's man. He kills the bad guys with suave efficiency, woos the ladies with ease and manages to redefine cool in just about every scene. The James Bond of the films is a bit of a different animal that that of the original books. It's in this sense that Sean Connery made his portrayal so iconic. Connery embodies the very essence of James Bond's cool character. His millionaire tastes in clothing, automobiles and food and drink defined the swinging sixties' ideal that matched the world written about in Playboy magazine each month. While some might find this attitude archaic, it still succeeds in fulfilling just about every male fantasy imaginable.
Those entering the world of Dr. No as first time Bond viewers should be forewarned that the action contained within is nothing like what we experience in modern day cinema. The film might even come across as a little cheesy. It's easy to chuckle at the projected backgrounds in all the driving scenes, the silly special effects featuring giant fish and the overly choreographed fight scenes. For me, it all just adds to the charm of the picture. Dr. No is all about style and character. Bond's witty one-liners are fantastic and his interactions with the women in the film are akin to him being their knight in shining armor. When he isn't killing them, of course. Dr. No is also the rare Bond entry in that the entire film is extremely playful. Even the inclusion of a reggae version of "Three Blind Mice" on the film's soundtrack adds to the cheerful tone. In watching Dr. No on Blu-ray, I was reminded that the film is pure cheeseball enjoyment. I don't think I stopped smiling during the entire movie. Bond fans rejoice!
Dr. No Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dr. No arrives on Blu-ray in full 1080p looking pretty darn stunning. MGM has given the movie the full AVC Mpeg-4 treatment and has preserved the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1. It should be noted that the black bars on the sides of the picture are normal and represent the correct "pillarbox" configuration for films that are presented in this aspect ratio. So, there's no need to adjust your set. Dr. No is, at this point, a 46 year old film, so I wasn't expecting its visual presentation to resemble anything even close to some of Bond's more recent screen adventures. Surprisingly, the film has held up quite well and, despite its age, Dr. No looks refreshingly clean and pristine. MGM utilized the Lowry process to restore the film and the results speak for themselves.
This remarkable Blu-ray presentation is satisfyingly free of any annoying digital picture anomalies like edge enhancement, macroblocking or noise. There is a slight amount of natural film grain present, but it is consistent with what should be present in films from the same era. Black levels and contrast are also surprisingly strong if not quite as deep and refined as those of newer films. Detail is also better than expected with individual grains of sand visible in the film's many beach shots. Perhaps the best part of Dr. No's video presentation lies in the disc's amazing color reproduction. This is a much more colorful film that I remembered and the wide color palette of the Jamaican locations just about leaps off of the screen. All told, I'm thrilled with Dr. No on Blu-ray. I can't imagine the film looking any better!
Dr. No Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Much like the video portion of the film, Dr. No has been given a major overhaul in the audio department as well. Presented in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, the movie sounds amazing while simultaneously showing the limits of early sixties sound recording techniques. Much of the dialogue in Dr. No has a decidedly tinny sound to it. In fact, much of the movie has that same effect. Conversely, the film's musical score sounds like it might have been recorded yesterday and often leaps out of the speakers with a fidelity far outpacing that of what was recorded on location.
The sound remix on this Blu-ray edition does a fine job of working with the movie's limited source material. There is a surprisingly large amount of directional surround activity in the mix and the aforementioned musical score is well placed. Dialogue is also well presented while still retaining the tinny nature of its original format. In the end, the craftsmen who have created this high definition surround mix have done a masterful job of taking extremely limited source material and breathing new life into it. Even the most surround-happy sound fanatic will doubtlessly be pleased.
Dr. No Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
MGM has re-issued the supplemental package from their previous DVD release of Dr. No on this Blu-ray edition. Features are presented in 480i standard definition.
Here's what's included:
-"The Complete Special Features Library: Mission Dossier" - Audio Commentary -Featuring Director Terence Young and Members of the Cast and Crew
-"Top Level Access 007: License to Restore" – Featurette Detailing the Bond Ultimate Edition Film Restoration Process
-"Declassified: M16 Vault" - The Guns of James Bond -Premiere Bond
-"007 Mission Control" Interactive Guide Into the World of Dr. No
-Inside Dr. No
-Terence Young: Bond Vivant
-Dr. No 1963 Featurette
-"Ministry of Propaganda" - Original Trailers, TV Spots, Photo Gallery and Radio Communications
Having seen the majority of these special features on DVD, there weren't any real surprises on this Blu-ray release. I particularly enjoyed the Terence Young featurette that focuses on the director's work within the Bond franchise as well as the fun and informative the Guns of James Bond feature. My favorite feature, however, was the "License to Restore" featurette that documents the painstaking Lowry restoration process that was applied to the film.
Dr. No Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Dr. No is a fun and thoroughly enjoyable Bond flick that sets the stage for the films that have followed over the past 4 decades. Sean Connery sets the stage for his iconic turn as the legendary spy and delivers a performance that has defined James Bond for almost fifty years. MGM has done an excellent job of bringing this well aged movie to Blu-ray by delivering an exceptional restored version of the film. Video performance is better than expected with a surprisingly warm and detailed picture. The movie's 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio surround track also succeeds in updating an extremely limited sound track to full high definition glory. Supplements are nothing new, however, and any owner of the previous DVD edition of Dr. No will be in familiar territory. Despite the lack of fresh extras, Dr. No is a must own title for Bond fans and film fans in general. Dr. No comes highly recommended!
Dr. No: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with Dr. No (4 bundles)
Dr. No Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - October 21st - October 21, 2008
James Bond represents a lifestyle that many people want to live and few can afford. As the world's top secret agent, 007 gets to travel the world to exotic locations, making use of his fast cars and cool gadgets to save the world over and over again (with just ...
• James Bond Blu-ray Releases Get Detailed - July 29, 2008
MGM Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of the James Bond films 'Dr. No', 'Die Another Day', 'Live and Let Die', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'From Russia With Love', and 'Thunderball', due to hit ...
• Bond is Officially Blu - June 18, 2008
Fox Home Entertainment in conjunction with MGM Home Entertainment have announced that they will bring six classic James Bond films to Blu-ray this fall. All six title - 'Dr. No', 'Die Another Day', 'Live and Let Die', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'From Russia with Love', ...
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