I was only 5 years old when "Dr. No" hit the theaters, and saw none of the Connery films in the theater. However, I've seen virtually every Bond film beginning with "Live and Let Die" in the theater. I saw all the early films many times on broadcast TV, and have seen ALL the films at various times on cable in normal resolution, and in HD where available. I saw many of the films on VHS, and have viewed them all on DVD ... excepting the Craig films which were available on Blu ray and which I purchased in that format. In short, I have far more than an above average familiarity with all of these films in most of the ways a person could possibly have viewed them. There are more die hard Bond fans than me, but I haven't missed many opportunities to see these films, and have seen each one many times, my favorites probably dozens of times.
I've sampled several of the films in this set with an emphasis on the earlier films, and those that were highly criticized in what is (at this time) the top spotlight review. I'll have to say that these films look great. As I watch them, I'll keep this review updated film by film to provide details of my reaction to each. I'm watching these Blu rays on an LG 7600 55" LCD ... a set which always delivers sharp images and stunningly beautiful colors to begin with.
The case holding all the Blu rays is beautifully designed. It is essentially a book of Blu rays with two discs presented per page.
There is some criticism that the discs are difficult to get out of the cover, with some Chicken Little talk that you probably can't do it without scratching the media. You'd have to be pretty ham-fisted for that to be even a remote possibility. You'll quickly learn the little trick that gets them out easily. First, hold the "page" elevated slightly ... don't leave it flat down on top of the book of discs. That gives the page itself some flexibility. Then use the finger hole provided to elevate the disc from the page, and roll it out of the sleeve.
Sadly, the United Artists intro screen with their distinctive musical fanfare (which was present in the Special Edition DVDs) has been replaced with the MGM Lion and its roar. Don't get me wrong, I've always liked the MGM Lion, but that UA fanfare was always a nice psychological symbol for me that a Bond film was starting. It doesn't seem the same, somehow.
*** Dr. No ***
Of course, I first watched "Dr. No". The colors were rendered superbly, however they are "warm" enough that non-tanned faces seem a bit red. A couple of short sections of dialogue seem rushed, and are hard to make out as a result. The very short section of ending music is badly distorted. Those are the only flaws I noticed. Overall the film looks and sounds great. The special feature on this disc is a short documentary about the company contracted for the restoration, with discussions of their process and philosophy. For "Dr. No", they were able to scan the original negatives as filmed. In particular, the scenes on Crab Key during the day before Bond and Honey are captured are absolutely stunning.
Direct Comparison: I have the Special Edition DVD of this film, and compared it directly to the Blu ray in this set. Much of the DVD looks like you are viewing it through a screen door. Do you really want to be watching Ursula Andress walking up to the beach through a screen door? (That's exactly what it looks like on the DVD). I thought not. It might not be so noticeable unless you had just watched the Blu ray, which is very sharp and clear. The DVD also has numerous defects (dirt and film damage) which show up as random white and black spots appearing in most frames. Virtually all of those are eliminated in the Blu ray.
*** Diamonds are Forever ***
From the other reviewers criticisms of some of these films, it seems that he disliked the restoration of "Diamonds are Forever" the most, so I tried it second. The other reviewer called it "brown". I don't see it. Some of the scenes are dark, and in those scenes dark colored suits tend to blend into the background. However, the colors are vibrant. Skin tones tend towards tanned. Browns appear where the color should be brown, such as wood paneling and desert backgrounds. I watched this film "out of order" to see if I agreed with his knocks on it, and I did not agree. If this is the "worst" rendering in the set, this set is great. The special features for this movie are interesting. There is an interview with Connery from shortly after filming. There are a few short features showing the filming of some of the action sequences. My favorite was the Deleted Scenes, including an extended version of the Honeymoon Suite opening with Connery and St. John. It ends with a bit of dialogue not kept for the film that made me chuckle aloud.
Direct Comparison: Once again, I sampled the Special Edition DVD right after viewing this Blu ray. The colors in the Blu ray are a close match to the colors in the DVD, except that they are more vibrant and pleasing to the eye. Skins tones are very similar. Jill St. John and Lana Wood are presented in both formats with very fair skin tones. Connery's skin tone is somewhat more red in the indoor scenes of the DVD, and more tan in the outdoor scenes. In the Blu ray, his skin tones are uniformly tan in both settings. As in "Dr. No", virtually constant film damage/dirt is present in the DVD presentation, and virtually none of those artifacts remain in the restoration used for this Blu ray.
There is absolutely nothing satisfactory about either of the DVDs of the above two films once you've see the Blu rays. You simply cannot go back to the muddied colors, damage/dirt flashes, or annoying grain (which in my complaint is not true film grain but film AGE).
*** Goldeneye ***
I skipped forward (again) to this film, because I read a lot of criticism of the picture. Specifically critical reviewers claim that excessive DNR (digital noise reduction) causes the Blu ray to be a terrible viewing experience. While it may not be the sharpest Blu ray I've ever seen, these criticisms are completely off base. Some dark interior shots and sky backgrounds look a little grainy, but that is the case in a lot of Blu rays I watch (DVDs too). Many outdoor backgrounds in this film are very blurred. However, that was a "depth of field" lens decision made by the cinematographer, not something in the Blu ray transfer. That artistic choice is, I believe, rare in Bond films. It may have confused some reviewers who expect all foregrounds and backgrounds to both show full detail.
There was nothing about this presentation of the film that made me cringe, and much that I was very pleased by.
Direct Comparison: As soon as I popped this movie out of my player, in went the Special Edition DVD. The picture in the Blu ray is MUCH more detailed. Colors are good in both. Since this is a more recent film, there wasn't nearly as much film damage evident in the DVD as for the two movies described above, yet there were occasional flashes from dirt and damage. ALL of that is cleaned up in the Blu ray. The sound in the DVD is a little muddy, especially if you listen to it after just having viewed the Blu ray. The sound in the Blu ray is crisp, and special effects sounds are convincing. The DVD has a lot of color streaking that I did not notice when watching the Blu ray. Edges in the DVD are more ragged than in the Blu ray, as you might expect. Additionally, the image in the DVD seems to sort of flicker in the details, and that flaw is not present in the Blu ray either.
So while it is possible that this is towards the bottom of the barrel as far as the Blu ray transfers in this set are concerned (and I'm not totally convinced this is true), it is a MAJOR step up from the DVD.
*** Goldfinger ***
This Blu ray doesn't look as spectacular as "Dr. No", but the there aren't nearly as many spectacular outdoor scenes. However, all the damage specs from previous releases have been cleaned up. The criticism that the colors from the gold painted body are muted are fair. Compared to the DVD, the colors in the Blu ray are not pushed as much, particularly in that scene. However, the body DOES look gold, it's just not as bright. One reference for this is the red wall behind the bed. It isn't as red either. Again, the sound on the Blu ray is better than the DVD. The United Artist fanfare is present on both this Blu ray and "Golden Eye", I had worried that only the MGM opening would be on the releases for this set. The bottom line is that "Goldfinger" isn't a spectacular Blu ray, but it IS a BIG improvement from the DVD. Strangely, I didn't notice the film damage as much when I only had the DVDs to watch. But viewing them after these Blu rays makes the DVDs almost unwatchable. The difference is that great.
I highly recommend the "Bond 50" Blu ray set. If you are a big-time Bond fan ... this set is essential to your continued happy existence. LOL
on November 23, 2012
This James Bond Blu Ray collection is a fantastic box set that will appeal to both the casual and serious Bond fan. There are so many great films in this collection, many of which are quite expensive if bought separately ($25-$30 each for a fair amount of the titles.) What makes this collection special is the Blu Ray transfer. The films have been restored to their full potential, and the results are stunning. MGM did a wonderful job ensuring that these movies were presented with the finest video transfer. I've never seen movies pre-2000 look so good on Blu Ray- not even the expensive Star Wars set looks like this. From Dr. No forward, every film presentation in this collection is top notch.
As you probably have seen, many people have voiced problems getting their discs out in their reviews. Yes, the discs are stored in cardboard sleeves, and are pretty snug. However, you don't have to rip the paper or get fingerprints on these discs. To get the films out, put your index finger in the center of the disc, and gently pull the disc to the outer, exposed edge of the cardboard. Keep your index finger in the center, and with your other index finger, lift the disc up with your fingernail. You'll then be able to pull the disc out fine, with no fingerprints, scratches, or any damage to the cardboard. Would another form of packaging with easier disc access have been preferred? Of course. But the present packaging should not bring down a star from this rating. Getting the discs out is not a problem, it's just inconvenient. Practice a little, and you'll get the hang out of it.
I cannot recommend this collection enough. It will be a worthy addition to your film library, and will provide top quality for years of enjoyment. It doesn't get better than this.
on September 26, 2012
Based on my experience with this box set so far I wanted to address some of the general concerns I've seen on other reviews and comments:
- Received the "Limited Edition" with the posters book as expected. (The "Exclusive Excerpted Edition" as promised by Amazon to early customers)
- Although I pre-ordered when the price was higher, I was charged $149.99 thanks to Amazon's "Pre-order Price Guarantee"
- All Blu-ray discs are on pristine condition, no finger prints and/or scratches of any kind (I checked all 23, one by one)
- Received all movies, No duplicates or missing discs.
- The posters book is not inside the Blu-ray book case but they are packaged together on the same shrink wrap and have a golden sticker that says "Limited Edition"
- All discs up until "The Living Daylights" include the PG version of the movie. From "Licence to Kill" onwards they are all PG-13 versions, no uncut or unrated versions included.
- No Digital Copy or Ultra Violet code is included with this set. (No way to play these movies on iPad, iPhone or Portable device)
The Blu-ray books are spectacular and make for a great presentation and a really high-end feel for this box set. I can see why people complain about getting the discs out, It's certainly difficult the first few times, but once you get the hang of it, you can get them out with less hassle.
Blu-ray restoration quality:
This is for hard-core videophiles, most fans won't even notice (or care) about the Blu-ray restoration. Bottom line is, these movies look and sound way better than they ever have before.
But for those concerned about DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) and EE (Edge Enhancements) I have now watched several of the movies on this set, specially those that haven't been previously available on Blu-ray and I have to report that although picture quality is greatly enhanced, they do suffer from mild DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) and sometimes heavy Edge Enhancements. The DNR is very mild and not as bothersome as on some other Blu-ray restorations from MGM (Thanks FOX!), but the overuse of Edge Enhancement really shows on some scenes, where the edges of certain objects/characters seem fuzzy against the background. Again, nothing to be concerned about and totally in line with earlier 007 Blu ray releases like "Dr. No" or "From Russia with Love", just nitpicking.
Overall a great box set and highly recommended for any 007 fan (Hard-core or n00b). It's one of the better box sets I've seen recently, not just on the movie content (and quality) which is undeniably great, but also on the packaging and presentation.
on September 25, 2012
This is the best Bond collection ever put out. It is a noticeable improvement in picture quality over my older DVD box sets that I purchased in 1999. I highly recommend purchasing if you are a fan of the 007 movies. You can't beat the $149.99 price for 22 movies! If you own all the DVD's like I do, I still think upgrading to Blu-Ray is worth it considering the low cost and exceptional quality.
While I think the packaging is very elegant and nicely designed, I find the slots to remove the Blu-Rays a major fault. It shouldn't be such a delicate process to remove a disk from its packaging. I am afraid that down the road the cardboard slots will tear. I do like that there is a slot for Skyfall. I just hope that the Skyfall Blu-Ray disk art matches the rest of the collection. *** Update 2/13, the Skyfall Blu-Ray disk does not match the other disks in this set nor does the menu. ***
The Special Features Bonus Disk is big let down. There is nothing worth watching on it. I was hoping for some new documentaries. One thing I noticed on this disk is they have all the opening sequence credits, but not Skyfall. Obviously Skyfall is not released yet, but it kind of makes the disk already out of date since Skyfall is incorporated into this box set. Had the Skyfall opening been included, it would have been a huge treat for die hard Bond fans. With all that being said; rest assured all of the best special features are on the individual movie disks. They are the same special features from the earlier DVD releases.
on September 25, 2012
Wow, just wow. Let me preface this by saying that I am a HUGE James Bond fan. To me, he is the epitome of the action hero. I watched my first James Bond film (Goldeneye) when I was about 6 or 7 years old. I still remember watching that movie and being absolutely obsessed with it for a good year or so. Since that first movie, I began my mission to watch every single James Bond movie in existence. Even the unofficial ones. Jump forward about 8 years or so, and I bought the entire James Bond collection on DVD and I watched every single film in the order that they were released in. Some I was watching for the 3rd or 4th time, others I was watching for the very first time. I was so happy. There I was, a sophomore in high school, watching all the James Bond movie. Then, 6 years later, I heard of this Blu-ray set...
Instead of being sad that I was going to have to double-dip, I was happy. I was finally going to be able to enjoy James Bond in glorious HD. I sold my DVD's and my Blu-Ray copies of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace to my brother, and I pre-ordered this magnificent set. Boy, was it worth it. The packaging is gorgeous, and very classy. I have yet to see all 22 movies (believe me, not for lack of trying), so I will only be reviewing the ones that I have watched so far. I will update this review as I keep viewing the movies. But so far:
Dr. No: HOLY CRAP!!! Amazing. The restoration is top-notch, the audio is fantastic. It seriously felt like I was watching a movie based in 62 instead of a movie filmed in 62. This is my second favorite Sean Connery movie, falling only behind From Russia with Love. It really is a fantastic film. Expertly paced, and unimaginably cool. Sean Connery really just embodies Bond. A great way to start off my favorite film series in the world
From Russia with Love: My absolute favorite classic Bond film. This is a tense and well-paced thriller. Rosa Klebb is damn frightening, and we are exposed to SPECTRE for the first time. Once again, the remastering is amazing. The clarity is astounding. The fight between Grant and Bond is fantastic, one of the best in the series. Also Q makes his official appearance! Yay!
Goldfinger: In my opinion, this is the Bond movie that set the stereotypes for all other Bond movies. It is the first movie in the series where there is a theme specifically made for the movie accompanying the opening credits, it is the first movie where the iconic Aston Martin DB5 comes out, it is the first movie where Q makes a meaningful appearance. Goldfinger is an excellent movie. It's well-crafted, and Connery WAS Bond at this point. From Russia with Love is my favorite Bond movie, but Goldfinger is probably the most iconic. The trend of superb transfer follows through with this one.
Thunderball: Perhaps one of the better known Bond films, and with good reason. Riding into his 4th movie, Connery continues to throw it out of the park. I was a little apprehensive to watch this movie, as I remembered that there are a few underwater scenes. I was afraid that the quality was going to be less the spectacular. To my surprise, other than a slightly soft quality, the underwater scenes still look amazing. Great transfer, great movie.
You Only Live Twice: Connery's 5th Bond film. At this point, Connery was starting to show his age. While for the most part, he still looks capable of being Bond there are a few scenes where he looks a little aged. Perhaps a little ridiculous at times, what with the whole trying to make Bond look Japanese, but still a solid Bond film. The hardest thing about seeing an old Bond film in HD is seeing how dated the special effects look. The helicopter fight is a great example of this.
OHMSS: Probably one of the most underrated Bond films. Lazenby had a very good turn as Bond, and I would've been very happy had he continued on with the role. This is of course the film where Bond gets married and becomes a widower. The clarity is astounding in this transfer. I was very surprised.
Goldeneye: My favorite Brosnan movie. Great transfer, but sometimes it can look a bit soft around the edges. Strange how Dr. No manages to look as good as Goldeneye, considering the more than 30 years that separate both movies. Still amazing to watch in HD, and a great movie over all. Definitely one of the high points in the series.
Casino Royale: Damn, it was good to see such a different take on Bond. He's still suave and still smooth, be he is more dangerous. This is my favorite Craig film (so far.) Because this was filmed in 06 it is no surprise that it looks amazing. The amount of detail on-screen is astounding at times. Daniel Craig started off his interpretation of Bond in amazing fashion. The only reason I am able to review this is because I confirmed that this is basically a re-issue of the special edition Blu-ray released a few years ago.
Quantum of Solace: A little underwhelming, but still good. I always knew that it was going to be extremely hard to follow up Casino Royale, which is why I am willing to be a little forgiving with this movie. It's not a bad movie at all, it just isn't as good as Casino Royale or some of the other Bond films. Once again, I confirmed that this is simply a re-issue of the Blu-ray released a few years ago. It looks fantastic.
For future reference, I will give a list of the Bond actors in order from favorite to least favorite. It's always fun to argue with fellow Bond fans as to the order of the list.
Sean Connery is the absolute best.
Daniel Craig is doing a bang up job as my favorite spy. So he comes in second for now.
George Lazenby is not given nearly enough credit for his turn as Bond in OHMSS.
Pierce Brosnan is the man that introduced me to Bond, so he's kind of tied with Lazenby. But points off for Die Another Day. Too campy for my taste.
Timothy Dalton was good in The Living Daylights, but License to Kill was basically Miami Vice: Bond edition.
Roger Moore... I don't dislike him. I am just not crazy about his turn as Bond. Moonraker was my second Bond film, so it holds a soft spot in my head. Other than that, his films are a little too crazy for me.
Keep a look out for updates in the coming days!
on September 29, 2012
Let me start off by saying I became a James Bond fan late in life (only a couple of years ago), and the film that opened my eyes to that world was Casino Royale (2006). I was at a friends house at the time, so he decided to put it on because he got this new home theater system and wanted to show off this 'awesome chase scene,' which turned out to be the free run through Madagascar (actually filmed in the Bahamas, I later learned) and it blew my mind. I ended up watching the entire movie- at least a dozen more times since then. The Chris Cornell opening theme and casino-themed sequence have to be the best intro in the series. Daniel Craig is amazing. So I may be biased because this one popped the cherry, but it's my favorite one to date. I had no idea what James Bond was about prior to that, except some spy series which I never really paid much attention to. Post-Casino Royale, I had to find out what the rest of the series was about. I started getting my hands on some of the older films, and eventually was able to see them all. I will not review them individually, since that's what IMDB is around for, but will highlight some personal favorites:
After Daniel Craig, I have to give it up to Sean Connery. Smooth. Debonaire. Just a man's man who sets the precedent. I liked Dr. No, but feel it wasn't as great of an introduction to the series as it could have been. From Russia with Love was where I started getting into it with Mr. Connery. We're set off on a great adventure through Istanbul, with some great villains, and one of the more realistic fight scenes captured on film. And then came Goldfinger. "GOLDFINGERRRRRR...he's the man..." Oddjob. Gert Frobe. I will never forget the proper temperature to serve a bottle of Dom at. And who can forget Shirley Bassey blaring over the horns to that classic theme? A close second to "You Know My Name"
"My name is Pussy Galore."
"I must be dreaming"
So shortly after came the Roger Moore era. Some hits and misses here, but sadly, mostly the latter of the two. He wasn't all bad, but it was a shame to see Bond go South and end up being a cheesy shell of what Connery set the bar to be. Sheriff JW Pepper? Jaws? WTF? You're how old now and Duran Duran is doing your theme song? You should have quit along with disco.
I will admit that I haven't paid much attention to the Dalton/Brosnan films, but plan to dissect them now that this set has arrived. And what a set it is. Beautiful packaging and layout, and a Bond girl keeps each disc company :) The number one complaint seems to be trying to get the discs out of their respective compartments. With a little care it can be done, and it's a minor inconvenience if really one at all.
At $150, this is a hell of a collection. I can't wait to start another marathon now that it's finally here, and am eagerly awaiting the release of Skyfall in November. It's the first Bond film I'll get to see in a theater!
on January 17, 2012
This review is about the item and its value. To put it simply, if you are going to buy the entire series of James Bond movies and you have a Blu-ray player, this is the bargain to buy. I have been picking the movies up individually from Amazon for between $9.49 to $9.99 each. A great deal. However, if I had known about this offer, I would have gone for the entire collection. 22 movies for $200.00 comes to about $9.10 each!
Each of the individual movies I have seen so far makes the Blu-Ray upgrade well worth it. The video quality of each is un-surpassed. Details, only guessed at, are impressive. The audio of each is, also, incredible. Each has the DTS HD Master 5.1 plus the original Mono or Dolby Surround soundtrack (there is a depth to Shirley Bassey's "Moonraker" openning that I found almost...moving).
I have about a dozen of the individually released movies. If you can't wait, maybe Amazon will have the others for the price mentioned above. If you CAN wait, this set is the best deal and well worth it.
on September 27, 2012
Like many Bond aficionados, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the Bond 50 set since it was originally announced. While I already owned all the movies (first on VHS, then on DVD), the value of the all the included bonus features in addition to the films that had yet to be released on BD was to enticing to ignore.
The packaging is roughly what you would expect from an uber-expensive DVD collection: the discs are laid out in two large books that contain a host of artwork and photography from the various films. Pleasantly (and logically) the films are all presented in chronological order. Collectors and fans of Bond films will recognize that this is a change from the past, when the films were rarely bundled in any sort of logical order. The second book even contains a slot for Skyfall so when that film is eventually released on BD, the Bond 50 set won't be instantly outdated. The case and books are both sturdy and should sit on a shelf well, though the pockets the discs are stored in may present difficulties. Some people may prefer to buy a set of blank clamshells to store the discs in so as not to risk scuffing them up when sliding them out of the pockets.
Included are all the old bonus features and specials that we've seen on the DVD and earlier BD releases. Fans upgrading from the old DVD sets will be pleased that each film has been condensed into a single disc so no more pesky disc swapping to catch the various featurettes that were included with the DVD releases. Also included is a new bonus disc that boasts a collection of new features that haven't been released on disc yet. This includes material from the upcoming Bond film Skyfall and is certainly worth a peak.
The asking price for Bond 50 is high, though even at the MSRP of $299.99 there is a lot of value here. Casual fans of the series will probably remain better suited to simply pick up (or rent) the older films though serious fans of Bond will certainly appreciate having this collection on their shelves.
on October 21, 2012
This review is by a fifty-something male who has watched all the Bond shows previously. Some salient points I'd make are:
1. I bought the DVD collection for about $100, so the cost per movie seemed acceptable.
2. Show quality was good.
3. Nice to have them all together, even the Roger Moore ones.
4. Interesting to watch through the series how the Bond character evolves from the suave, rump-spanking chauvinistic character of the sixties (Connery) to the damaged-goods sensitivity of the "new millenium" Bond (Craig).
5. The singular irritating thing that the producers of the DVD did was to make the audience endure a short commercial touting the Bond series, as well as the FBI warning. You can't bail out early. How f_______ irksome! Why advertise what we have already bought?
6. I'd still recommend the purchase despite the forced commercial.
on October 28, 2012
Being a big Bond fan, I was certainly looking forward to this set, and for the most part I am not disappointed. One thing though,I thought the Bonus disc would have a bit more content, and the piece with the actors who played James Bond is just a clip series with nothing new added. One thing I do want to note, that I'm sure most people are asking is, is everything included from previous releases - for the most part, the answer is yes. I had a originally owned most of the Special Edition DVD releases, with the exception of Live and Let Die, Man with the Golden Gun, Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, View to a Kill, License to Kill, and World is Not Enough. The rest, including a Blu-Ray of Quantum of Solace I had. First thing I did when I got the 50 year set was to compare to what I already had. I'm happy to say everything seems to have been brought over, plus the stuff when the the Ultimate Editions were released is also added (like commentaries from Roger Moore). Now I can't comment for the movies I mentioned that I did not have, but it looks complete, with a couple exceptions. I noticed that the Die Another Day disc on the 50 year set does not have the Madonna music video, nor the Behind the Scenes featurette of that music video. Also, the Casino Royale disc does not have the Bond Girls are Forever Documentary that former Bond girl, herself, Maryam D'Abo did back in 2006, that was on the 2 disc Special Edition release back then. Also, if it matters, the Quantum of Solace disc on the 50 year set is the exact same as the previous Blu Ray realease, where as the rest have all had their Menus formatted to look the same, no big deal though. Glad most of it has been retained, but it should be noted, outside of the bonus disc, nothing new has been added, but the picture and sound quality, especially of the early movies, is greatly improved.