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James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2(1963-1981)
Set includes : 'For Your Eyes Only' (Roger Moore as James Bond), 'From Russia With Love' (Sean Connery as James Bond) & 'Thunderball' (Sean Connery as James Bond) in a book styled case w/ clear slip cover
For more about James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 and the James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray release, see the James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray Review
Starring: Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Sean Connery, Bernard Lee, Walter Gotell, Martine Beswick
Directors: Terence Young, John Glen
This Blu-ray release includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray Review
Part two of an essential collection
Reviewed by Ben Williams, March 17, 2009
Does a more iconic film character than James Bond exist? The well dressed, well mannered, womanizing martini drinker has spawned more sequels than an other film franchise in history; his popularity is greater today than it was in the early 1960s, when Dr. No signaled Bond's arrival into popular film culture. Bond and his code name, 007, have been cited as having a 97% world-wide awareness among consumers. That's a remarkable statistic that would have most corporations in a frenzy of envy. Considering Bond's humble origins as the subject of a series of pulp novels from English writer Sir Ian Fleming, the legendary spy seems to appeal to men and women the world over, despite any cultural differences they might have. As Britain's most famous export, Bond serves as England's ambassador to film. On the eve of the Blu-ray release of Quantum of Solace as well as the second wave of Bond classics, there's no time like the present to review Bond's current releases on Blu-ray. Featuring For Your Eyes Only, From Russia with Love and Thunderball, this collection serves as the perfect introduction to the world's most famous spy, while giving Bond fans an amazing opportunity to see 007 in the unprecedented beauty of Blu- ray.
From Russia with Love
The second James Bond filmed adventure finds everyone's favorite gentleman spy on a mission to retrieve a top-secret Soviet decoding machine known as the LEKTOR. Bond (Sean Connery) travels to Istanbul to intercept a defecting Soviet agent who possesses the device. Little does Bond know that SPECTRE, the menacing terrorist organization hinted at in Dr. No, has set a trap for him; they intend to exact their revenge for Bond's involvement with the death of their comrade in arms, Dr. No. Bond will dodge SPECTRE's assassination attempts at every turn while outwitting Russian agents, seducing the ladies and meeting new foes with some devilishly dangerous footwear. By boat, train and plane, Bond will take on the forces of destruction and chaos in a race across Europe, keeping the LEKTOR out of the hands of SPECTRE.
After the relatively confined Caribbean locale of Dr. No, From Russia With Love serves as more of a travel-log, jet-set Bond adventure. The film feels more exotic and dangerous; Bond visits locations that must have been seldom seen in films from the 60s, giving the film a more thrilling and mysterious flavor. It's the perfect paranoid adventure for the height of the Cold War, while still delivering Soviet characters who manage to come across as sympathetic compared to the diabolical craziness of SPECTRE's cadre of baddies. In From Russia With Love, we are finally introduced to the SPECTRE organization; their leader Blofeld (Anthony Dawson), assassin Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and the ruthless Red Grant (Robert Shaw) all amp up the villainy with their dreams of world domination. By contrast, Bond's major love interest in the film is Russian; Daniela Bianci's Tatiana Romanova proves to be a first rate Bond girl.
There are many notable firsts in From Russia With Love. Desmond Llewelyn makes his first appearance as "Q" - - he'd appear in every subsequent Bond film until his death in 1999. Along with "Q" came a ton of new gadgets, including a pager, bug detector and a car phone. Bernard Lee returns as "M", Bond's boss and the head of MI6, while the ever- present Lois Maxwell reprises her role as Miss Moneypenny; a role she'd continue well into the next decade. Of course, the real draw still lies with Sean Connery; he's a little more confident as James Bond in his second outing, while still exuding a fresh excitement for the role. From Russia With Love is his movie and he enjoys every second of it.
Perhaps the best reason to enjoy From Russia With Love all over again, aside from Connery's great performance, comes from the inclusion of one of the series' best villains. The amazing Robert Shaw steals every scene he occupies as Red Grant. He's Bond's first real nemesis to appear in the films and he serves as an excellent, evil counterpoint to the witty British agent. While From Russia With Love isn't my absolute favorite of the Bond films, it comes pretty darn close. It's a must buy addition to any Bond fan's collection, as well as a film that every budding Bond fan should own. From Russia With Love is a true classic that is highly recommended.
When Emilo Largo (Adolfo Celi), a nefarious agent of SPECTRE, hatches a diabolical plan to steal a British bomber loaded with nuclear weapons and ransom NATO for $100 million dollars in diamonds, MI6 dispatches its entire array of 00-agents to find Largo and put a stop to his plans. James Bond (Sean Connery), always one step ahead, locates the missing bomber in the Bahamas. There, he encounters the beautiful Domino (Claudine Auger) who will prove to be invaluable in his eventual confrontation with Largo. Can Bond get to Largo before SPECTRE detonates the nukes?
Thunderball pretty much has it all. Bond with a jetpack, Bond scuba diving, Bond dodging sharks, Bond sexually harassing every woman in sight, Bond blowing things up, great Bond one-liners and one of the best Bond girls of them all. Even the villains are some of the best in the history of the franchise. Take for example a scene near the beginning of the film where the members of SPECTRE meet in a secret layer in Paris. Everything about this scene is just perfect. From Blofeld's (Anthony Dawson) booming voice to the stark, modern look of their meeting space, this is the stuff that bore a thousand Bond parodies. It's interesting to look back at the older Bond flicks now that the Austin Powers movies are so well ingrained into the public consciousness. It's easy to blur the line between the events of the parody and how the scenes originally played out. Thunderball is routinely parodied in these movies, and scenes like the aforementioned SPECTRE layer had me mistaking the events that were to transpire with the events of the Austin Powers movies. I'm glad I've had the opportunity to correct those mistakes in my memory as the original is vastly superior and more deliciously fun. Regardless, it's hard to argue with the influence that these early Bond movies have had on popular filmmaking.
No discussion of Thunderball would be complete without mentioning how perfectly Sean Connery owns the James Bond character in this film. For me, Thunderball represents the pinnacle of his depiction of the suave spy. He was exceptional in the previous three Bond films, but there's something about his portrayal in Thunderball that comes across as more natural - - as though Connery has embodied the role. A lot of this probably comes from Thunderball's perfect casting across the board. Everyone just seems in the zone and the film is infinitely better for it. The fact that we can now enjoy the great performances, amazing set design and startling underwater photography of Thunderball on Blu-ray is a real treat for Bond fans across the globe.
For Your Eyes Only
For Your Eyes Only begins by quickly cutting ties with past Bond adventures and moving the character into a new direction. Notorious SPECTRE mastermind, Blofeld (John Hollis), makes an ill- fated attempt on Bond's (Roger Moore) life, only to find himself at the bottom of a smokestack. This short prologue sets into motion a very different Bond tale; one of international espionage and revenge, that focuses more on personal vendettas against the backdrop of nuclear calamity. Bond is tasked with locating a missing piece of British naval hardware called the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator, known as ATAC. It's been pilfered by a rival nation and can be used to launch the Royal Navy's submarine-based nuclear missiles. Bond encounters a young woman called Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) on his quest to recover the missing system; her father having been killed while helping retrieve the ATAC, she has vowed to hunt down and kill those responsible for his death. Together, Melina and Bond will scour the globe, landing in Greece, Italy and the Bahamas, before coming face to face with the men responsible for stealing ATAC and killing Melina's father.
There's no doubt that For Your Eyes Only has a much different tone than Roger Moore's previous Bond films. He's less campy and much more serious in this go-round; there are fewer one-liners, the film remains serious and decidedly dark. Unfortunately, Mr. Moore's less physical presence in the role keeps him from maintaining a convincingly menacing presence; he doesn't seem capable of being a foreboding, scary Bond. Melina's story is compelling; her quest to find revenge is a rewarding counterpoint to Bond's more dutiful role. She breathes a much-needed sympathetic element into the plot. Just about everything in the film works, with the exception of Moore. One can't fault the guy for trying, though.
For Your Eyes Only is one of those films that is easy to enjoy, while managing to disappoint. There are quite a few impressive scenes, to be sure. Many of the underwater sequences are expertly filmed and effective, there are several exciting car chases, a nifty snowmobile chase is always entertaining and Bond drives a kick-ass Lotus. Most of the performances are passable and the film moves in the right direction by showing a more brutal Bond who is unafraid to get his hands dirty. If the film's producers had continued this course, the Bond franchise might have avoided some of the later, unfortunate Moore films, the dark and boring Timothy Dalton years and, perhaps, might have made a faster recovery. As it stands, For Your Eyes Only serves as an example as a move in the right direction that wasn't quite executed as well as it could have been.
So, can I recommend For Your Eyes Only? Sure, why not; it's easily one of the best of Roger Moore's films in the series. Is is a great Bond movie in the tradition of Goldfinger and Casino Royale? Not a chance. Either way, For Your Eyes Only serves as an interesting diversion in an otherwise sad time for the franchise.
James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray, Video Quality
From Russia with Love
Encoded with the AVC Mpeg-4 compression codec, framed at the film's original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and presented in full 1080p, From Russia With Love makes its high definition debut in a stunning Blu-ray package of incredible quality. For a 46 year old film, the folks over at MGM and Lowry Digital Images have done a remarkable job cleaning up the film and removing any annoying print damage. The film looks fresh and ready for action.
Some might notice a few slight instances of edge enhancement on From Russia With Love; fortunately, this occurs rarely and is barely noticeable. Otherwise, the transfer features black levels and contrast fitting a picture of 60s origin, a remarkable level of detail, vivid, if slightly dated, color reproduction and an absolute absence of additional digital artifacts and anomalies. I've never seen From Russia With Love look anywhere near this good; Bond fans are going to be in heaven with this excellent Blu-ray release. Highly recommended.
MGM has given Thunderball the royal treatment on Blu-ray. The film was restored using the Lowry grain reduction / restoration process and looks truly fantastic. Thunderball is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it's worth noting that this is the first of the Bond films to be filmed in this widescreen format. Unsurprisingly, MGM has opted for a Mpeg-4 / AVC high bitrate encode in full 1080p as well. For a 43 year old film, Thunderball looks spectacular. I was amazed at the level of detail and contrast the image displayed. There are a few flaws that are apparent from the source, but the encoding is virtually flawless.
Thunderball displays a few anomalies befitting a film of its age. There is an occasional amount of flicker present that comes across the lower left quarter of the picture. In addition, there are also a few instances of lessened contrast and color density probably resulting from damaged film elements. Make no mistake, these are very slight issues and don't detract from the enjoyment of this 43 year old film in any way. The source is also amazingly clean and free of any distracting compression artifacts. Ultimately, Thunderball has probably never looked this good and it has certainly never been presented for home viewing in anything approaching the quality of this set. Highly recommended!
For Your Eyes Only
Generally speaking, films of the early 1980s aren't revered for their fantastic image quality. Perhaps a series of uninspiring film stocks are to blame; perhaps it's just the aesthetic of the time that seems uninspired in retrospect. Whatever the reason, For Your Eyes Only suffers from that same boring and bland early 80s filming stye that manages to neither inspire nor impress. One certainly can't blame the folks at MGM; they've delivered the film in an uncompromising manner using the AVC Mpeg-4 compression codec at full 1080p, while retaining the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
For Your Eyes Only looks pretty darn boring; colors are flat and washed out, black levels and contrast are weak and detail isn't particularly impressive. There's a certain pastel quality to the entire film that comes across as amateurish and stylistically dated. However, it's safe to say that the film looks exactly like it should; artifacts are not an issue and the film's grain remains intact and appropriate. What's left, is an image that while accurate, fails to impress. Chalk this one up to style, folks.
James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
From Russia with Love
Much like the other classic Bond releases from MGM, From Russia With Love has been given a spruced-up surround sound mix in lossless 5.1 DTS-Master Audio. It's an involving track with plenty of surround activity and excellent use of rear directional effects, but does often show the limits of the sound recording equipment used in the 1960. Viewers will often hear a slight hissing sound during the film's quieter moments, while many of the action effects have a slightly metallic and clunky sound to them.
I wouldn't classify any of these issues as problems, however. From Russia With Love is a 46 year old film at this point; there are going to be limitations to any material of such an advanced age. I am, however, impressed with how much mileage the sound designers were able to squeeze out of these antiquated tracks. Dialogue is mostly intelligible, with very few passages that sound less than ideal. The film's score is also well represented and sounds as though it could have been recorded yesterday. While From Russia With Love isn't going to challenge the likes of Transformers or Black Hawk Down in the sound department, it is a remarkable remaster that provides a well-updated surround experience. Recommended.
In an effort to pump up the audio for Thunderball to a level worthy of the film's video restoration, MGM has graced the film with a superlative DTS HD-Master Audio lossless 5.1 soundtrack. Again, they've done a masterful job of making a 43 year old film feel fresh and new. As with the video, there are times during the audio presentation where the technology of 1965 imparts its limitations on this modern mix, but for the most part, the experience is involving and spectacular.
Thunderball has been carefully remixed for 5.1 and the results are often remarkable. The film's score sounds as crisp and clear as one recorded yesterday while directional effects and surround usage is tastefully employed. Dialogue is crisp and clear, but occasionally has a tinny and slightly muffled sound. This issue is relatively minor with only a few passages in the film affected. Despite this one flaw, Thunderball has been brought to Blu-ray with a teriffic sound mix that does an excellent job of updating the film for the modern home theater. Highly recommended!
For Your Eyes Only
By the time For Your Eyes Only was released in 1981, film soundtracks had changed a great deal from the predominantly mono affairs of the 1970s. Surround sound had found wider use through the popularity of Star Wars, but someone apparently forgot to notify the powers that be at EON productions. Having seen For Your Eyes Only on DVD, Laserdisc and VHS, it was clear to me that the film needed some serious work to sound even remotely up-to-date for this Blu-ray release. Thankfully, MGM has breathed new life into the film by completely remixing the film's archaic soundtrack and presenting it in glorious 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The results are nothing less than astounding.
The most immediately noticeable change comes in the form of increased surround activity and directional effects. There's a palpable sense of atmosphere in For Your Eyes Only that hasn't been present on any previous home video release. Dialogue also benefits from this remixing job; voices, while rooted in the center channel, manage to sound more cohesive and free from distortion. The film's score is also presented in a manner that balances the music more effectively with the film's many action sequences. Now, I don't think anyone is going to mistake what is presented on this Blu-ray with a contemporary action soundtrack, but the results are so massively improved, that I doubt anyone will complain. Highly recommended!
James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
From Russia with Love
- Feature Audio commentary Hosted by Producer John Cork, featuring Director Terence Young and various cast and crew members
- Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview
- Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler
- Ian Fleming on Desert Island Discs
- "Inside From Russia With Love"
- "Harry Salzman: Showman"
- Animated Storyboard Sequence
- 007 Mission Control
- Mission Combat Manual: Action Sequences
- Q branch: Gadgets
- Exotic Locations
- TV Broadcasts
- Image Database
As one of the better special features sets among the first six classic Bond films released by MGM, From Russia With Love does an exceptional job of positioning the film within the historical and cultural climate of the 60s. My favorite feature is a thorough commentary track hosted by DVD producer John Cork. He's assembled a series of sound-bites and audio clips from various members of the cast and crew, including Director Terence Young. Great stuff! I was also particularly fond of the vintage radio and television interviews with Bond creator Ian Fleming. Mr. Fleming was an opinionated man, never at a loss for words and never afraid to speak his mind. The set's animated storyboard sequence is interesting, and I found several of the more gadget and gear related features to be entertaining. Finally, the "Inside From Russia With Love" featurette does an exceptional job of outlining the film's production, while featuring a ton of great vintage clips and behind the scenes exclusives. It's an informative and well-conceived documentary that is a must-watch for any Bond fan. All told, I'm very impressed with what's been included with From Russia With Love; MGM should be commended for their excellent work.
MGM has ported over all of the extras from the most recent DVD release of Thunderball to this new Blu-ray package. Those of you who are intimately familiar with those extras will find nothing new with this release, but for those unfamiliar with previous releases, there is a lot of nice material present here.
-"The Complete Special Features Library: Mission Dossier" - Audio Commentary Featuring Terence Young and Others
-Audio Commentary Featuring Peter Hunt, John Hopkins and Others "Declassified: M16 Vault"
-The Incredible World of James Bond - Original 1965 NBC Television Special
-A Child's Guide to Blowing Up a Motor Car - 1965 Ford Promotional Film
-On Location With Ken Adam
-Bill Suitor: The Rocket Man Movies
-Thunderball Boat Show Reel
-Selling Bonds - Original 1965 Television Advertisements
-"007 Mission Control" Interactive Guide Into the World of Thunderball
-The Making of Thunderball
-The Thunderball Phenomenon
-The Secret History of Thunderball
-"Ministry of Propaganda" - Original Trailers, TV Spots, Photo Gallery and Radio Communication
While this is a very complete set of Bond-related extras, I was immediately drawn to the original 1965 material. A Child's Guide to Blowing Up a Motorcar is just the kind of subversive thing that was easily gotten away with back in the sixties and would be banned immediately in this day and age. I also really enjoyed the original 1965 Thunderball TV advertisements and Bond TV special. Aside from these great vintage pieces, we've got a couple of slightly boring commentaries and enough info in the "Ministry of Propaganda" and assorted featurettes to keep a Bond fanatic busy for days.
For Your Eyes Only
- Audio Commentary with Director John Glen
- Audio commentary with Screenwriter Michael G. Wilson
- Audio commentary with Sir Roger Moore
- Deleted Scenes
- "Bond in Greece"
- "Bond in Cortina"
- "Neptune's Journey"
- 007 Mission Control
- Mission Combat Manual
- Q Branch
- Exotic locations
- Inside For Your Eyes Only
- Animated Storyboard Sequences
- Music Video: Sheena Easton's "For Your Eyes Only"
- Theatrical archive
- TV Broadcasts
- Radio Communication
- Image Database
Despite any reservations I might have about the film itself, For Your Eyes Only features a nice array of extras that do a great job of filling in the details of the film's production. I enjoyed the commentaries and featurettes, but have now grown a little tired of the focus these special editions place on gadgets. Regardless, The animated storyboard presentations are well-done and vintage television and radio announcements prove to be an interesting aside to the style of the early 1980s. Beyond that, much of what's contained here will appeal to fans of the film, while not being of any particular interest to more casual viewers.
James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Given the films contained in The James Bond Collection: Volume 2, very few Bond aficionados will be able to resist purchasing this set. From Russia With Love and Thunderball are two of the best films in the series; For Your Eyes Only, on the other hand, remains an interesting diversion. Regardless, MGM has done outstanding work on the set's packaging, picture quality, audio and supplements. These are tremendously entertaining and informative releases that are worth owning, even for the most casual Bond fan. The James Bond Collection: Volume 2 comes highly recommended.
James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 2 Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Amazon Blu-ray Deal of the Week: James Bond Blu-ray Collections, ... - May 29, 2011
Through June 4th, Amazon is selling Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of the James Bond Blu-ray boxsets for $24.99 each. This 64% reduction is not the lowest retail markdown for which Amazon has offered the three collections - their lowest price point was $24.49 - but it ...
• Amazon Deal of the Day: Bond BD Three-Packs $29.99 Each - September 25, 2009
Today Amazon has a very interesting Blu-ray-related "deal of the day" in its Gold Box. You can buy any of the three available volumes of the James Bond Blu-ray Collection for just $29.99, or about $10 per movie. For reference, our price tracker shows that these ...
• 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 ...
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