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Must Have Bond, James Bond
on August 12, 2005
This collection includes various Bond movies from four of the actors that have played James Bond in the "official" Bond movies, which excludes "Never Say Never Again." My only complaint about the three collections is that the movies are not in order. I have all three sets because I like Bond rather than wanting all the Bond movies by one of the three actors. However, you have to take them as you can get them sometimes.
Each of the movies in this collection is a "special edition," which is a fancy name for DVDs that include extras that range in value from high to low. I have been very fascinated with some of the commentaries (those by Terence Young were very fascinating) and some of the features just seemed like filler. However, what I found interesting other may not, and vice versa. Rather than listing all the extras, a list of which is available, I will discuss the movies briefly.
"Dr. No" launched the Bond franchise. Sean Connery set the tone for Bond, suave, debonair, and terminally cool. He drove nice cars and had a penchant for dry one-liners. Ursula Andress set the tone for future Bond women, and Dr. No was coolly ruthless. Ken Adam's sets were artistic and artfully filmed by Terence Young, who also provided the stylistic role model for Connery's Bond. In the extras you learn that Connery was mentored by Young and acquired expensive tastes and hobbies in the process.
Many people consider the second movie in this collection, 1964's "Goldfinger," to be the best Bond film ever. Bond's villains continued to be ruthless and megalomaniacs, and Connery has a close encounter with a laser. Shirley Bassey belts out the title song and sets the standard for future Bond music. James Bond also quips that drinking Dom Perignon above 38 degrees Fahrenheit is "...as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs." Fortunately, Paul McCartney did not take it personally as he recorded the title track to the 1973 Bond movie "Live and Let Die." Bond also got ever more gadgets from Q, played by Desmond Llewelyn, who went on to appear in more Bond movies than any other major actor.
The third movie in the collection is Roger Moore's second outing as Bond. "The Man with the Golden Gun" from 1974 is a mixed bag. Christopher Lee as Scaramanga and Herve Villechaize are two of the most bizarre and ruthless Bond villains ever. There are fewer gadgets than in some of the surrounding Bond movies, but Moore's performance is a bit wooden and Clifton James was a bit over-the-top as comic relief. The title song by singer Lulu is pretty good, but pales in comparison to many of the other title songs in the series.
The fourth movie in this collection attempted to put Bond back on track. The 1977 movie "The Spy Who Loved Me" had a very serious undertone. The gadgets are back, but effective. We meet Jaws (Richard Kiel) and Karl Stromberg (Curt Jürgens). We also meet incredible Bond women Caroline Munro and Barbara Bach. The stunts are awesome, the plot is incredible, the locations fantastic and the title song by Carly Simon pushed Bond music back into relevancy. This movie was one of Roger Moore's best as James Bond.
Timothy Dalton's second film, 1989's "License to Kill," is the weaker of the two Dalton Bond films. However, the supporting cast is excellent, including Carey Lowell of "Law and Order" fame, Robert Davi, Talisa Soto, and David Hedison as Felix Leiter in his last appearance in a Bond film. The location shots are very good, and the stunts are among the best of any Bond film. They actually had those semi-tractor trailers up on two wheels, according to the extras. The bad guy may have been a mere drug czar, but everyone was suitably evil. Gladys Knight takes the honors for the title song and Patti LaBelle sings the pop hit "If You Asked Me To" to close the movie.
The last two movies in this collection are Pierce Brosnan's first and second Bond movies. In 1995's "Goldeneye," Bond is more dynamic and a more traditional spy. This movie raised the location stakes by filming for the first time in Russia, along with a number of other exotic locations. The gadgets are better, and the women are nearly more than Bond can handle, especially Xenia Onatopp. This movie contains more plot twists than a typical Bond movie, so be prepared to think a little as things go boom. Tina Turner does the title song reasonably well, but her performance has powerful competition in many of the other recent Bond films.
The final film in this collection is 1997's "Tomorrow Never Dies." The supporting cast this time is phenomenal, with the great actor Jonathan Pryce as Elliot Carver, Teri Hatcher as his wife Paris Carver, and Michelle Yeoh as Chinese agent Wei Lin, among numerous others. Jonathan Pryce steals nearly every scene he is in, reminiscent of some other great Bond villains. The locations are ever more incredible, digital effects abound, and the stunts are even more thrilling. That motorcycle jump was really performed! Cheryl Crow does a great job on the title song, and the excellent video is included.
Because of all the extras these DVDs require hours to watch. While the value of the extras varies, watching them gives a fan much more information about the difficulties of making each movie, and how many of the stunts were performed. I consider these movies to be among the gems of my DVD collection. I recommend this set very highly as long as you plan on collecting all the Bond films.