Dorling Kindersley's rather lavish book is perhaps more of a dinner table book than a coffee table book for one simple reason: it's huge. While you'll certainly need a lot of extra space just to turn the pages (male readers risk a hernia if the try reading it in their laps), it's a terrific overview of the film series that probably more than any other changed the way films were marketed. Unfortunately, it's also an unwitting demonstration of how unimaginative modern movie posters have become, with the ingenuity and wonderful artwork by many of the great movie poster artists of all time - Frank McCarthy, Bob Peak, Robert McGinnis, Renato Casari, Jean Maschi - giving way to increasingly identikit photoshop efforts. By the time you get to Quantum of Solace action packed artwork is a thing of the past, with GQ fashion shoots seemingly the model, a tragedy when you consider how iconic many of the great Bond posters like From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Live and Let Die or the 1967 Casino Royale are (gratifyingly this volume doesn't pretend that the EON films are the only Bond movies). Still, it could have been more dispiriting still: time precluded including all but the sly teaser for Skyfall, which has seen the laziest photoshopped posters in the series history.
Not that photoshopping is always bad: there are some good photo montages and teasers right through to the Timothy Dalton era (though the photoshop Licence to Kill quad is still a lowpoint) even when the producers decided to go with some of the dodgier artwork produced (the Moonraker teaser is infinitely superior to the clumsy final release ones). And while the book doesn't include every variation from the days when each territory would either adapt or even create its own artwork (and there's a lot of McGinnis' work from Thunderball that is curiously missing), there's a strong selection of foreign posters and even some lobby card sets, with even the more obscure foreign artists getting credited for their work. While the physical production isn't quite up to Taschen levels, it's on good quality colour paper, though it's a bit annoying that the UK quads for each poster are spread over two pages since the sheer size and weight of the book doesn't favour that presentation. The rest of the posters are better presented, though not all the one sheets are treated to the full page format when deemed too similar to other variations. There's also some unused concepts and sketches for several of the films from the days when United Artists seemed to be consciously moving away from the classic Bond poster style. All in all it's certainly worthwhile for the Bond movie fan with deep pockets and a lot of shelf space. And if you want to avoid being depressed by the last few lazy poster outings, try reading it from the back to the front and the book magically starts to get better and better with every page!