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Review of James Bond 007 - Bond 50 [1962-2012]

NB: As is their wont, Amazon have bundled the reviews for the Blu-ray and DVD boxed sets together. This review refers to the Blu-ray edition. Please bear in mind that the DVD version only includes the one-disc versions of the films, losing nearly all the extras apart from the audio commentaries.

With the release of Skyfall imminent, EON and MGM/UA have finally got around to releasing the remaining Bond films that weren't on Blu-ray (with the exception of non-EON entries Never Say Never Again and the 1967 Casino Royale), releasing them in a lavish boxed set that's surprisingly sturdily constructed but offers virtually nothing new for those who have already faithfully collected the Ultimate Edition DVDs. The plentiful extras have been carried over pretty much wholesale from those two-disc releases, with one exception - Casino Royale is a strange hybrid of the two-disc special edition and first single-disc release, containing most of the special edition's extras but losing Martin Campbell's picture-in-picture commentary, two featurettes (The Art of the Freerun, Catching a Plane - From Storyboard to Screen), the revised documentary Bond Girls Are Forever, storyboard sequence and filmmaker profile featurettes (Martin Campbell, Chris Corbauld, Phil Mรฉheux, Gary Powell, Alexander Witt and David Arnold). The version of Die Another Day only features the extras from the Ultimate Edition, with the much better extras from the original DVD release, including the 76-minute making of documentary, still AWOL.

The picture quality is for the most part very good, though it's not always as convincing as you feel it should be, with the suspicion that some scenes have been scrubbed up a little too brightly compared to the way they looked on the big screen. GoldenEye thankfully corrects the overcropping of the Ultimate Edition DVD release that was particularly noticeable when cutting off letters and numbers on video displays and is now in the proper framing but it has some noticeable DNR work done on it, though it's not as dramatic as some reports claim. More worrying is that the UK set doesn't offer the original mono soundtracks on the early Bond films that were previously released on Blu-ray, such as Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball, instead offering remixed stereo tracks that often favour the sound effects a little too much. The new to BD titles do contain the original mixes, but if you want them on the earlier films you'll have to buy the US set - which will cause a problem for those without multi-region Blu-ray capability since the set is a mixture of Region A-locked titles (Dr No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Licence to Kill, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) and Region-free ones (You Only Live Twice, OHMSS - thankfully the uncut version - Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies).

As for the exclusive extras disc - well, it's a huge disappointment. Rather than include any new extras from Quantum of Solace such as the deleted "The name's Bond. James Bond" ending or any of the slew of other promos or documentaries about the series it's just a brief selection of soundbites, very brief featurettes, a few video diaries for Skyfall and a collection of title sequences from the films. There's no booklet either, but at least the book-style packaging for the films is especially strong, has a space reserved for Skyfall and is designed for repeated use - which plenty of these films will be getting.
Added by Electrophorus Dragon
11 years ago on 7 February 2013 05:38