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In a bold and deadly scheme, the evil SPECTRE organization hijacks a NATO plane and seizes two atomic warheads, each capable of killing millions of innocent people. As the world is held hostage by the threat of a nuclear nightmare, James Bond (Agent 007) jumps into action, racing against the clock as the trail leads him to tropical Nassau. There he meets Emilio Largo, a high-ranking agent of SPECTRE, and the stunning Domino, with whom Bond shares an irresistible attraction. The confrontation builds to an epic battle on the ocean floor, as Bond and his allies fight to avert a catastrophe of disastrous proportions. His mission leads him from a perilous jet-pack flight to a terrifying clash with Largo's killer sharks.
For more about Thunderball and the Thunderball Blu-ray release, see Thunderball Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on October 30, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Terence Young
Writers: Richard Maibaum, John Hopkins (II), Jack Whittingham, Kevin McClory, Ian Fleming
Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi, Luciana Paluzzi, Rik van Nutter, Guy Doleman
» See full cast & crew
Thunderball Blu-ray Review
Look up, look down, it's Thunderball on Blu-ray!
Reviewed by Ben Williams, October 30, 2008
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm a huge James Bond fan. Whenever the inevitable conversation revolving around which Bond movies are the best is brought up, Thunderball is always on that list. It's a terrifically entertaining movie and represents Sean Connery at the peak of his Bond prowess. Everything about Thunderball just works perfectly. Thunderball also has the distinction of being the only James Bond flick that's been made twice with the same actor in the leading role. Never Say Never Again is the early eighties version of Thunderball and is a vastly inferior film. However, if you want the mid-sixties old-school Bond at his best, look no further than Thunderball.
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.
Thunderball Blu-ray, Video Quality
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!
Thunderball Blu-ray, Audio Quality
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!
Thunderball Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
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.
Here's what's included:
-"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.
Thunderball Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
What's not to like about Thunderball? It's a great Bond flick with, in my opinion, Sean Connery's finest performance in the role. The story is compelling and fun and "Domino" ranks as one of the best and most beautiful Bond girls in the entire James Bond lexicon. MGM has done a fantastic job with both the video and audio on this Blu-ray release by pumping up the film's audio and delivering a great video restoration that makes the film look half its age. I've always counted Thunderball among my favorite Bond films and am truly thrilled to finally own in on my favorite format. Thunderball is highly recommended and is a must-own title for Bond fans and those who might be curious as to the origins of everyone's favorite secret agent.
Thunderball: Other Editions
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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
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