Before buying this collection, I was very skeptical. Being a long time James Bond fan, I invested plenty of money in the best VHS version of all these films. When DVD came out, I re-bought about half of the collection again. I must admit that the DVD releases of these films are some of the most disappointing DVDs in my collection.
My major complaints about the ORIGINAL DVD RELEASES were:
1.) Audio Mix -- The first release of the Bond DVDs featured only the original 2 channel audio mixes. The result was a disaster. The spoken dialog was BURIED under the soundtrack... resulting in me having to dive for the remote every five minutes. On top of the poor dialog / score mixing, the audio lacked definition and served as a constant distraction from watching the movie. There were no distinct lows, or distinct highs, just a lot of bland sounding audio.
2.) Picture Quality -- I suppose I couldn't complain too too much about this one. Given the age of many of these movies, I accepted the washed-out, often grainy image as nothing more than a symptom of the era the movie was made.
All in all, poor audio and poor picture makes for a pretty crappy experience. After having been disappointed by the first couple Bond DVDs I bought, I gave up on the collection. It was with this in mind that the announcement of the newly remastered series left me very skeptical.
The major criticism of this DVD set is that it is another ploy by MGM/UA to drain more money from every Bond fan's wallet. In the past, I had avoided these pathetic attempts at getting me to constantly upgrade versions of things I already owned.
However, let me tell you, this collection DOES NOT DISAPPOINT. The talk about the upgraded audio and video is NOT hype. Painstaking efforts were taken to re-scan the original prints of each film frame-by-frame. Once scanned, the image was digitally enhanced from the original prints. I was amazed at the richness and depth of color this process produced. During most parts, these movies look like they could have been filmed last year. Different color pigments are more noticeable, skin color and tone looks more lifelike, and the special effects look sharper. All in all, one couldn't ask for anything more from the picture quality of these versions. I have yet to a scene where I felt it could have been retouched better.
If the image quality isn't enough to make this collection worth buying, the new 5.1 DTS mixes seal the deal. Gone are the days of me fidgeting with volume during every other scene! The balance between dialog, ambient sounds, and score is perfect. I never would have imagined that movies made in the 60's and 70's could sound so good. Unlike the previous DVDs, these Ultimate Edition DVDs utilize my home theater to its maximum potential. Explosions rumble through my sub and the dialog comes clearly through my center channel; every word is audible. I own other DVDs from films made over the last couple of years that wish they could sound this good! Utilizing the DTS is a MUST!
Finally, while I consider myself fairly discriminating when it comes to audio and video clarity, I am by no means an audio or videophile. So, I don't think you need a $25,000 home theater setup to enjoy the enhancements these DVDs offer. I wrote this review based off of the following hardware:
32" Winbook 720p LCD HDTV
Up-converting Samsung DVD Player (connected via DVI)
Sony 7.1 (7x100w) Surround Receiver
Matching 5.1 MTX Surround Sound Speaker System
Hopefully, this will help clear up some confusion or doubt as to the value this collection offers.
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