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on December 1, 2010
ULTIMATE EDITION INTRO (applies to all 4 Volumes)
I think fans need to accept that James Bond 007 won't be divided into chronological DVD sets, anymore. Because these movies are drastically different from each other in terms of style, plot, background, and audiences' & critics' reception... the most sensible move is to divide them up. Thankfully, all of the special features from older DVDs, plus some new bonus content, are on these Ultimate Edition sets.

With the exception of the first "official" James Bond movie on this set, I think this 4th volume represents the more action-packed side of 007. Bond becomes Japanese and trains with ninjas. Bond gets a sidekick who kicks even more ass than he does. Bond goes to space, for crying out loud! I suppose after reviewing the other 3 volumes, I've run out of things to say about this franchise. But each movie on this set is worth a look.

DR. NO (1962 - Movie #1)
---Ah, the first time that James Bond was "officially" brought to world-wide audiences (that 1950s TV play of "Casino Royale" doesn't count). I feel I should warn newcomers who haven't watched this movie yet, because while the character will be instantly familiar, this is the most low-key, modest picture in the entire franchise. After all, how could anyone know "Dr. No" would be successful enough to spawn a franchise anyway? James Bond is introduced to us when we see his hands playing baccarat, and his voice flirting with his opponent. The first time we see his face is when he gives that immortal introduction, "Bond...James Bond." When Sean Connery speaks those words, he commands our attention immediately. Agent 007 is sent to Jamaica after an agent has disappeared. The movie is more of a mystery than an adventure. Shady characters turn out to be allies. Lovely locals turn out to be dangerous. What separates James Bond from any other detective though is his confidence and willingness to get his hands dirty. Watch the way he dispenses his first henchman, and then casually carries on after the bad guy kills himself. Much has been made about Honey Ryder, the iconic beauty played by Ursula Andress, but I think this character is badly overrated. She's hot and interesting, but nothing legendary. Come to think of it, I prefer the slower first half to the second half when Bond goes to a remote island, finds the villain's lair, with a beautiful woman tagging along. I know the second half is what most Bond movies are known for, but it feels more dated that it did 10 years ago when I first saw it. But for the most part, "Dr. No" is a solid mystery, and the elusive villain is intriguing. (7.0 / 10)

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967 - Movie #5)
---Aside from a really dumb introduction to James Bond (he fakes his death so that his worldwide enemies won't look for him), this movie finds a fun story and runs with it. An American shuttle is stolen in space, and the USA & Russia are on the brink of war. The leads point to Japan, where James Bond's investigation leads to one of the most action-packed entries in the 007 series. The fight scenes are intense and exciting, and the final battle between the villain's army and ally Tanaka's ninjas is simply awesome. The whole Japanese setting is just pleasing to the eye. I love Nancy Sinatra's song and John Barry's music score. There are some pretty odd plot points, though. A sexy henchwoman captures Bond, makes love with him rather than kill him, and then tries to kill him in the very next scene! Also, the plan to make Bond blend in with his Japanese ally by becoming Japanese makes no sense when several assassins try to take him out while he's training. But I quickly forgot about the plot stumbles because the movie moves at such a nice pace and has such great style & action that I quickly forgave those missteps. (7.5 / 10)

MOONRAKER (1979 - Movie #11)
---I have very mixed feelings about this Roger Moore movie. It's basically a hybrid of director Lewis Gilbert's "You Only Live Twice" and "The Spy Who Loved Me", with some silly comedy thrown in. The good news is that this mostly-engaging movie is incredible when it works. The villain, Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), is delightfully egomaniacal, and is one of the few bad guys whose elaborate deathplans for 007 actually fit the character. The action is very exciting (except for a dumb Venice boat chase). And when the story goes to space (sorry if I spoiled that), "Moonraker" somehow makes it all work and becomes a terrific entertainment. The problem I have is that when "Moonraker" tries to be funny, it often comes at the wrong time. Bond literally shoots a tree-perched assassin right in front of Drax's eyes, and trusts that Drax's driver will still take him to the airport. Every time fan-favorite Jaws shows up, his attempts to kill 007 are filled with some comedic punchline. He can't kill Bond because a bunch of Rio partiers get in the way, and he can't kill Bond because he breaks his own parachute strap. I missed the combination of sinister and humor in Jaws from "The Spy Who Loved Me". And what's with Jaws' goldilocks girlfriend, anyway? Never mind. "Moonraker" is a Bond movie that isn't afraid to try anything. For the most part, it worked for me, especially in its final act. (7.0 / 10)

OCTOPUSSY (1983 - Movie #13)
---This one of the toughest Roger Moore movies to talk about, because its greatest qualities come at some costly prices, just like "Moonraker" felt to me. I think every Bond movie has some give-and-take involved; the difference with fans is whether you gain more than you are asked to forgive. In the case of "Octopussy", I like it overall, but was annoyed by some aspects of it. The plot involves Bond tracing a forged Faberge egg to a prince named Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan, whose speech mannerisms are always captivating). Bond's encounters with Kamal Khan and his henchmen are mostly entertaining, but then when 007 is captured, it takes a while to find out just what the heck is going on. When Bond discovers that a mysterious smuggler named Octopussy (Maud Adams in her 2nd 007 appearance) is involved, I was initially confused how she fit into the whole plot. When I figured out how the Russian General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) was going to bring his plans of global domination into the mix, I still didn't understand how he related to the other two. This sense of mystery is both a great delight and a bit frustrating. The questions are all answered, but I think the movie needed better pacing to let me know when I was supposed to be in on it. "Octopussy" uses the Eastern Europe and India locations very well, but each of its exciting action sequences has something to distract me from it. For example, an exciting jungle hunt for 007 includes our hero letting out a Tarzan yell as he dangles from vine to vine. I must say that the stuntwork in "Octopussy" is top-notch, like when Roger Moore's stunt doubles climb a speeding train or hang onto an airborne plane for dear life. Overall, I think "Octopussy" is a solid movie, but when the plot took its mysterious twists and turns, I wished the movie would've focused more on the dramatic stakes than its carefree sense of fun. (6.5 / 10)

TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997 - Movie #18)
---What a novel concept we have here. A man attempts to control the world through mass-media manipulation. Don't be mad at me if I spoiled that for you, because when Elliot Carver (a scene-chewing Jonathan Pryce) holds the movie's first meeting with his cohorts, you know exactly what he's capable of. This adventure takes this fascinating plot point, and pits James Bond against the media baron's schemes. After a pointless-but-fun pre-title sequence, Bond is tasked to use a former flame (now Carver's wife) to get closer. Along the way, Bond runs into a Chinese agent named Wei Lin, who's played by Asian action star Michelle Yeoh. Their combination of skills and witty banter is one of the movie's best aspects. Yet, I can't say why I'm not giving this movie a stronger recommendation. I think that's because "Tomorrow Never Dies" features a lot of action, with less emphasis on the spy elements of James Bond. I love the chase sequences and hand-to-hand combat, but some of the shootouts are a bit outrageous. In other words, as well-crafted as the movie is, I was constantly aware that most Bond movies tend to have similar moments. "Tomorrow Never Dies" does it better than most 007 movies, but it didn't do it first. If you're looking for originality beyond Elliot Carver's dastardly plans, then you might be a tad disappointed. But if you want bigger, badder, and better, then Pierce Brosnan's sophomore appearance doesn't slump. (7.5 / 10)

Although this is my least favorite collection of James Bond 007 movies, I wouldn't call this a throwaway. After all, I do like every movie that's included on this set. But if there's one Volume of the Ultimate Edition collection that I'd get last, it'd be this 4th one.

7.0 > Dr. No (1962)
7.5 > You Only Live Twice (1967)
7.0 > Moonraker (1979)
6.5 > Octopussy (1983)
7.5 > Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
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on October 14, 2013
The highlights here are DR. NO, YOU ONLY LVE TWICE and OCTUPUSSY. These three Bond films are ground breaking in several ways.

I always considered DR. NO to be one of the better Bond films and closer to the literary James Bond created by Ian Fleming. Sean Connery's performance is that of the no-nonsense dedicated civil servant. His screen presence alone conveys the physical, intellectual and moral conviction of the character. He is essentially a modern day version of the white knight slaying the dragon for Queen and country. Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No is one of the best villains of the series. His steel mono-toned performance is eerily unsettling. He remains one of the most enigmatic villains in the series. He is a villain moved more by unfounded revenge than by greed or riches. You almost sympathize with him as he makes futile overtures to Bond imploring him to join his organization. It seems that Bond is the only man capable of appreciating his intellect. Not even Dr. No's backers, Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are worthy of his talents. Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder leaves one of the most indelible images of the series as she emerges from the sea clad in her white bikini. She is characterized by the simplicity of her goodness and naivet as she is drawn into a vortex of worldliness that Bond further engulfs her in. Rather than that of a supposed sex object, she exudes a raw femininity found only in nature. Bond can not help but feel that he has corrupted her both deliberately and inadvertently in his blind quest to revenge the deaths of fellow agents. This is the very strength of Richard Maibaum's script, here and on subsequent Bond films. These films, the better ones, are about Bond, his adversaries, his loves and his friendships. Jack Lord was the first of many actors to play Felix Leiter, Bond's CIA friend. "Friend" in the world of James Bond is not a word used casually. Lord seemed the one actor to visually convey the camaraderie that existed between these two characters. John Kitzmiller gave a very good performance as the loyal Quarrel, one of the most important characters in he entire series. This character epitomized the dormant qualities found in the instincts of the common man. When called upon in the death struggle of good vs. evil he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent seems perfect as a man who knew better than fall into an inescapable web of subterfuge that Dr. No has spread from his island to the mainland. Zena Marshall as Miss Taro is a more willing participant, as she appears eager to overtly display her sensuality and share her sexual appetites openly with Bond. She is supposed to lure Bond to his death. Finding this not the case she enthusiastically offers herself to Bond. It is in these scenes that Sean Connery displays a certain animal screen presence that no other actor has ever equaled in the role. Many elements that distinguish a James Bond movie were introduced in this film. The opening gun barrel trademark, "The James Bond Theme," Bernard Lee's portrayal of the inimitable M, Lois Maxwell's portrayal of the desirable Miss Moneypenny, Ken Adam's innovative and distinctive production designs, Maurice Binder's unique main titles, the "Martinis shaken not stirred," just to name a few are all here. Director, Terence Young, always boasted and took relish in how he supposedly shaped the look and feel of the James Bond series. This is quite possibly true when looking at DR. NO. It is a film visually rich with well-detailed and defined characters. It also has an uncanny feel for the settings inspired from the Ian Fleming novels whether it be Bond's intelligence headquarters in London, the exotic sights and sounds of Jamaica or the incongruity of Dr. No's plush lair hidden in the mosquito invested swamps of Crabe Key. DR. NO is also characterized by quick paced editing by Peter Hunt. Hunt's innovative technique keeps the story moving visually and unobtrusively which also further defines the cinematic world of James Bond. But coming full circle, it is Sean Connery's performance and screen presence that intrigues and captures the imagination of the viewer. Given the sets, the music, the script, the locations and all the other elements, it all comes down to how Sean Connery fits and moves through this cinematic world that has been created for James Bond. Sean Connery's performance is indeed that of Britain's dedicated civil servant. DR. NO is the benchmark.

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE contained elements of espionage, action, thrills, adventure and science fiction. Looking back, it somehow worked loosely when put together yet, till this day I cannot determine what the cohesive element was. Looking at it closely the film is a real dichotomy of styles. The first hour is excellently filmed and works very well. We get to see James Bond the spy, working with recognition codes, breaking into safes, going under cover and the like. There is an excellently choreographed fight scene between Bond and a sumo wrestler. This is also the first time he developed a good working relationship with a fellow intelligence head, Tiger Tanaka, similar to that of Kerim Bey in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. We also see that "M" has absolute confidence in his man. "This is the big one," he tells Bond knowing that 007 is the only one capable of pulling off this assignment.

In MOONRAKER I thought Roger Moore had finally combined his best qualities as a personality and an actor to represent James Bond in this film. His scene in the centrifuge showed his ability to bring depth to the character in a very credible way. This one scene is a standout because it equals any performance given by any of the actors that have portrayed James Bond in this series. Christopher Wood, given sole screenplay credit this time, delivered a script full of witty dialogue. The free-fall pre-credit sequence with John Barry's background score, incredible stunt work and cinematography was excellent. With so many fine elements at their peak of perfection it was a shame that the film unraveled in so many different directions.

OCTOPUSSY is probably Roger Moore's best Bond movie. It seems like a throwback to the 60s style of filmmaking. The pace is slower and deliberate and the dialogue seems to have more subtle wit interspersed. It has an overall nostalgic feel about it. The opening is excellent as we see Bond the spy infiltrate a banana republic air base. Bond escapes via a Bede Acrostar mini jet aircraft with a guided missile in hot pursuit. The score by John Barry is a little vague. The action scenes he scored didn't have his old punch. It was like he was in a transitional state. He scored the early scenes very well and they had that unique Bond sound that he used to bring to the earlier films. As the film progressed the score seemed to become repetitious and tedious. He did do a good job scoring the scenes involving the Soviets, which had that eastern block flavor similar to his score for "The Quiller Memorandum." To its credit, the film uses elements from the short stories "Octopussy" and "The Property of a Lady" by Ian Fleming in a sentimental throwback to earlier Bonds. "For Your Eyes Only" filmed just before this one, also used some of Fleming's original writings for inspiration. In that one Bond as the shark bate in-tow was taken directly from Fleming's novel "Live and Let Die."

TOMORROW NEVER DIES is one of the best of the Bonds. Roger Spottiswoode did a bang-up job as director handling the action sequences and delivering the script's more timely and coherent storyline to the screen. Pierce Brosnan gets down to business and returns to more familiar territory and storytelling in TOMORROW NEVER DIES. This is the only Brosnan-Bond film where the team of M, Moneypenny, Charles Robinson and Q work as a very efficient and cohesive unit. When of the best things to come along in years was composer David Arnold who scored this film. He continued the sound created by John Barry and simultaneously brought the action to a more modern film-making experience. TOMORROW NEVER DIES is one of the best Bond films of the series.
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on November 29, 2006
I, for one, have no objection to this new packaging of the beautifully remastered films and their lavish extras. This series is like the old joke about pizza (and sex)--even when it's not-so-good, it's still pretty good. These films are such a big, big part of our culture--all of them. All the actors playing Bond. The whole shebang. I appreciate that there are those out there who only want certain titles--and they should be available that way--but I say, "Bring 'em all on!" I'm loving this collection!

DR. NO is the first and freshest, with Connery the first (and best) Bond and Andress the first (and best) girl. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE has that marvelous volcano and that lovely song, possibly the best song in the series. MOONRAKER is just plain silly, but kind of fun. OCTOPUSSY is big and colorful. TOMORROW NEVER DIES is kind of blah, but it has Michelle Yeoh, who is not blah, and those stunts, which are anything but blah.
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on May 12, 2007
I own all 4 volumes, and this is the ultimate collection for Bond Fans and a must have collection. This collection is chock full of extra goodies. The only movie missing is "Never Say Never Again" with Sean Connery and Kim Basinger as this was not part of the " official" Bond series and was put out by a different studio, the same year as " Octopussy". Each Volume contains 5 movies in their own individual case.(2 DVDs each 1 with the movie and one with extras). Each movie also has a little booklet with information on the actors and the filming of the movie, with makes for some interesting reading. These are high quality DVDs in both video and sound and for the advertised price for all four volumes, is a steal in my opinion. I have always been satisfied with Criterion releases for their quality and the extras and this series has definately not disappointed me. This was money well spent. Charlie S.
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on February 10, 2007
You'll note in my other reviews (Bond sets 2 and 3) I am overwhelmed by picture, sound, and extras quality. Other reviewers have said the same thing and with greater depth. These sets are a MUST HAVE for any Bond fan. Especially as the one-off re-releases of each film, for Region 1, lack the extras disc...

I am merely commenting my own opinions on each of the included movies as pithy as humanly possible (well, for me at any rate...). I have bought all 4 sets, the extras alone make the purchases worthwhile (nevermind that phenomenal picture and sound quality!), even if I don't like the movies and I know that with any franchise, there are people who will agree, disagree, and do both for any given person's review.

For the first set to come out, I am surprised by the lacklustre quality of the releases. I shall adumbrate:

"Dr. No" - A good opener that has dated well because it takes itself seriously. Sean Connery is the first actor to play Bond and, throughout his tenure, typically does a very good job. Sometimes I think he comes over as 'wooden', but it's really more 'deadpan' than anything else... I haven't seen this one in ages, however... but it is deserving of all the praise it gets.

"You Only Live Twice" - YOLT does have a nice title song, but that's about it. It's another campy OTT big villain with ludicrous hangout who wants to control the world like any other cartoon character would.

"Octopussy" - Surprisingly not bad, though not as stellar as FYEO... Maud Adams and Sir Roger Moore are a clear match for this movie, which is about financing a grand operation to dominate the world. There is some two-dimensional stereotyping (the sheep eyeball eating scene in India), but Bond is all out in this one as, atypically, he goes undercover in disguise. A clown, ironically, to save the day. This one has a great punch to it and is a competent piece. I wish it was Sir Roger's last, as the one he did go out on is incredibly lacklustre.

"Tomorrow Never Dies". Call it "The Nadir Never Dies" and I'd be happier. More outright sex jokes (you mean we have to be told he's a "cunning linguist"? We haven't fathomed that already? At least we don't get to see it... but if things kept going the way they were, no doubt we would have eventually... ugh.) And the cigarette joke - "Bond" kills a guy who's smoking then says "Smoking is bad for your health". Uh, okay... Bond in the books and in the better films SMOKES. Why can't the Brosnobond franchise kill itself after this one instead of 6 years later and we'd get the inestimable Daniel Craig put into the role that much more quickly and return the franchise from the F-rated cartoon show it's become!!

And as far as omens go, the people who crafted the 4 Bond set were surely not trying to say something wordlessly??! As volume 1 had started out with the other grandiose turkey, the final volume (4) ends with the other all-time turkey: "Moonraker". For this flick, take the sublime 'The Spy Who Loved Me' and its core plot, make it utterly silly and repetitive, put in some people who couldn't act their way out of a mime's booth, throw in some space stations and laser beams for which audience are we thinking about again?, and turn Jaws into Wile E Coyote's stunt double^, and voila: 2 hours of trash. I know it made money at the time, but just because it's popular doesn't mean it's *good*.

Well, Moonraker isn't that bad. All it did was make a lie out of "The Spy Who Loved Me"'s big quote at the end that reads "James Bond will return in "For Your Eyes Only"! Okay, it's worse than bad!! And yet I'd rather re-watch "Diamonds Are Forever" (and I don't...)

^ note: Wile E Coyote probably stunt doubled for Jaws because anybody kissing Jaws on the lips would need a lot of facial reconstruction surgery... strangely enough, that didn't happen in this steaming turkey pile either...
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on January 12, 2013
The 12 minute video "Top Level Access 007: License to Restore - DR. NO" is apparently a promotion of the newly-restored James Bond films. But the promotional video itself is shown here at the wrong aspect ratio. Everything's squeezed. So the barrel of the gun in the open sequence, which of course should be round, is oval. And the people talking about the restoration all look like Coneheads. I sure hope they pay better attention to the restoration of the films than they did to this commercial.
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on January 27, 2018
i wasn't too fond of it, even as a huge Bond fan, but I think it's worth a watch
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on February 15, 2018
What can one say about Sean. The only real Bond in my humble opinion.
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on March 14, 2013
I bought this set for my husband who already enjoys the previous 3 sets. It's a perfect gift for a day when you're free and want to enjoy action with some intelligence. Bond is one of our favorites, it's a family time movie. I watch them since I was a kid and been able to buy them in sets and having at home is like bringing the good times in action movies back. I always find my husband watching them late at night after everyone goes to bed or early in the morning before everyone is up. That makes me feel good that I got something so special for his moments alone too. I definitely recommend Vol. 4 James Bond.
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on December 28, 2008
This box set is completely amazing. They come with booklets that show original movie posters, information on the actors careers, talk about the original books the movies are based on much more. This is my favorite of the bond sets. Even though the books were written in the 1960s cold war of spies, the writer had the for sight to create such stories such as the movie Moonraker is based on with its space station villian and the return of one of my favorite Bond villians Jaws with his metal teeth that can bite through anything. Jaws orignally appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me who I wish was also included in this set. The set also includes Dr. No the first James Bond Movie, Octopussy who also has great villian who use a Yo Yo saw of doom and dozens of beautiful women to look at, Tomorrow Never Dies (one of the best Pierce Bronson Bond Movies) and You Only Live Twice which is one of the few movies where it looks like Bond is actually killed.
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