First ever James Bond on Blu-ray disc – Volume One review

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James Bond Blu-ray Volume One
James Bond Blu-ray Volume One

The world’s greatest action entertainment brand is even hotter than ever, in high definition, as six of the highest regarded James Bond movies debuted recently on Blu-ray Disc from MGM and Fox. 

The films have been restored and re-mastered for the highest picture and sound quality via the state-of-the-art Lowry process and digital frame-by-frame restoration, plus special features galore, including many original featurettes re-mastered in HD. Each is packaged with a movie ticket for the all-new Bond adventure Quantum of Solace. Additionally the films are available in two 3-pack Blu-ray Disc collections (one cover is pictured) with two movie tickets inside.

The following are my reviews of the three films in the Volume One collection; Die Another Day, Live and Let Die and the classic series launcher, Dr. No.

Die Another Day (2002)

Lee Tamahori brings his own unique vision to the franchise with Die Another Day. The film represents James Bond at his best. Especially in terms of keeping pace with modern technical gadgetry. Halle Berry helps keep satirical humor at bay, by offering a strong performance as Jinx, the ultra-sexy CIA assassin, who Bond (Pierce Brosnan) devours in their first love scene. The stunts and non-stop action are incredible, if not believable. Die Another Day delivers the goods.

Below is a complete list of the special features on the disc.

  • The Complete Special Features Library: Mission Dossier
    – Audio Commentary Featuring Director Lee Tamahori and Producer Michael G. Wilson
  • Audio Commentary Featuring Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike
  • Declassified: MI6 Vault
    – From Script to Screen
    – Shaken and Stirred on Ice
    – Just Another Day
    – The British Touch: Bond Arrives in London
    – On Location With Peter Lamont
  • Expanded Search Content
    – 007 Mission Control
    – Interactive Guide Into the World of Die Another Day
    – Exotic Locations Featurette (Refinished in HD)
  • MI6 DataStream
  • Ministry of Propaganda
    – Photo gallery

Live and Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore was introduced as 007 in this film, reestablished Bond as an uncomplicated, yet suave and formal icon for the times. Even the villains were more in keeping with the era. An international drug dealer played by Yaphet Kotto, squares off against Bond, and they tussle in Jamaica to clear things up.

As with the original film, the Blu-ray quality suffers a bit from the deep-hued cinematography throughout the movie. It’s very interesting to hear various commentaries of people speaking about the casting of Roger Moore on the behind-the-scenes featurettes. That’s always been one of the biggest dramas in staging one of these films…Who will play James Bond next? The highlight (and most enlightening) of the extras is a short segment from ‘60s British TV show Mainly Millicent in which Moore plays James Bond in a sort of parody of the character.

Below is a complete list of the special features, which die-hard fans, will appreciate watching.

  • Audio Commentary Featuring Sir Roger Moore
  • The Complete Special Features Library: Mission Dossier
    – Audio Commentary Featuring Guy Hamilton
  • Audio Commentary Featuring Tom Mankiewicz
  • Declassified: MI6 Vault
    – Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary
    – Roger Moore as James Bond, Circa 1964
    – Live and Let Die Conceptual Art
  • Expanded Search Content
    – 007 Mission Control
    – Interactive Guide Into the World of Live and Let Die
    – Exotic Locations Featurette (Refinished in HD)
  • Mission Dossier
  • Inside Live and Let Die featurette (Refinished in HD)
  • On Set With Roger Moore
  • Ministry of Propaganda
    – Original Trailers, TV Spots, Photo Gallery and Radio Communications

Dr. No (1962)

First released in 1962, I doubt producers could have guessed that Dr. No would be the start of the most indelible entertainment brand in the world. The start of the James Bond series of films remains one of the best, and offers a window on a more elegant time in Bond’s career, and contains a surprising lack of gadgetry and whiz-bang fireworks. In his first adventure, James Bond (Sean Connery) is summoned to Jamaica where a fellow agent and his secretary have been mysteriously killed.

With the help of an American CIA agent (an early Felix Leiter played by Hawaii Five-O topper Jack Lord), they discover that the nefarious Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) is scheming to blackmail the U.S. government with a device capable of deflecting and destroying U.S. rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. Of course no Bond film would be complete, if he didn’t take time away from saving the civilized world to enjoy the company of a few stunning women, including a bikini-clad Ursula Andress. Dr. No gloriously kicks off a series of films that shows no sign of slowing down, as it reinvents itself yet again, with Casino Royale and the upcoming Quantum of Solace.

What’s difficult for me is losing some of the film grain that I love, to modern technology, so that’s a trade-off here. I always enjoy a well-produced slideshow, and the Dr. No disc has a very nice gallery of vintage stills. Overall, the cleaned up picture draws some attention to the limitations of visual effects during the time, but not to the point where it distracts you from enjoying the film.

Below is a complete list of the special features on the disc.

  • The Complete Special Features Library: Mission Dossier
    – Audio Commentary Featuring Director Terence Young and Members of the Cast and Crew
  • Top Level Access 007: License to Restore
    – Featurette Detailing the Bond Ultimate Edition Film Restoration Process
  • Declassified: MI6 Vault
    – The Guns of James Bond
  • Premiere Bond
  • Expanded Search Content
    – 007 Mission Control
    – Interactive Guide Into the World of Dr. No
    – Exotic Locations Featurette (Refinished in HD)
  • Mission Dossier
    – Inside Dr. No (Refinished in HD)
    – Terence Young: Bond Vivant (Refinished in HD)
    Dr. No 1963 Featurette
  • Ministry of Propaganda
    – Original Trailers, TV Spots, Photo Gallery and Radio Communications

James Bond will return soon…along with reviews for the other three films in this collection, including For Your Eyes Only, From Russia With Love and Thunderball!