For 50 years, Ian Fleming’s James Bond character has emulated style, bravado, special skills, and, most of all, the best gadget gear in the world. The recently released Bond 50 home video collection (Blu-ray and DVD) offers all 22 Bond films* and one bonus disc in one package complete with over 130 hours of bonus features.
*Special note – 1983’s Never Say Never Again and 1967’s Casino Royale are not included in this special set.
You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), Goldeneye (1995), and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) make their Blu-ray debut in this set. These nine films are also now available as standalone releases.
The remaining films in this set include: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1975), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), License to Kill (1989), The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), and Quantum of Solace (2008).
The Blu-ray version puts the entire series on display. The iconic instrumental theme song. The “shaken, not stirred” martini. The compact Walther PPK pistol. Some material may be outdated, but this stalwart series still entertains and enthralls as it looks to surpass the Star Wars and Harry Potter series as the biggest box office maker ever. 007 has already fought off worthy attempts from installments of Die Hard, Mission: Impossible and Bourne film series.
The James Bond character with 007 secret agent designation has been played by Sean Connery (six times), George Lazenby (once), Roger Moore (seven), Timothy Dalton (twice), Pierce Brosnan (four), and Daniel Craig (twice; he has reportedly signed up for more including 2012’s Skyfall).
This collectible box set categorizes the entire 22 James Bond film cache into two stylish, slip slotted cases (1962-1981 and 1983-2012) according to the entire film release timeline. Hopefully viewers will see another case in the future, which would be completed in 2039 at the average pace of a Bond film every two and a quarter years. Hopefully there will be no studio bankruptcies and consequential restructuring for the 2014-2039 set.
This action-adventure film set begins with Dr. No (1962) and ends with Quantum of Solace (2008), the direct sequel to Casino Royale. The 1983-2012 case features a reserve spot for Skyfall releasing in the U.S. on November 9, 2012 (the U.K. gets an early holiday gift with an October 26, 2012 release date). Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes, stars Daniel Craig in his third appearance as the famous 007 agent with his boss M, played by Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, and Bérénice Marlohe.
The high-definition transfer (1080p/AVC MPEG-4) to visuals and sound is largely amazing besides a couple visual noticeable visual glitches in the Goldeneye presentation and a couple of the early Bond films. Producers keep the technical aspects at a high quality and include an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track with a Dolby Digital track for retro fans. The aspect ratios range include 1.67:1, 1.85:1, 2.39:1, and 2.35:1, which usually corresponding with the film’s date.
Viewers get almost all of the bonus content from the previously released DVDs and Blu-rays (e.g. the high quality “Highly Classified: The World of 007” from Tomorrow Never Dies ultimate DVD version) with a few exceptions like the 40-minute “Bond Girls Are Forever from Casino Royale disc and the recalled audio commentary track from the Dr. No Criterion Collection, which is a big collector’s item. Tomorrow Never Dies features over nine hours of bonus content. All main film disc have a similar format with a selectable menu located in the lower left corner.
The bonus disc includes five sections all individually viewable and selectable menu similar to the main film discs.
The “World of Bond” section features submenus with play all options and list text overlay options. This section features “Titles”, which allows consecutive and continuous viewing of all the title sequences (a little over an hour and two minutes) or singular viewings. “Gadgets” features Bond’s most memorable gear from the quartermaster (Q) branch in a segment just over three minutes. “Villains covers all the baddies in about two and a half minutes while “Bond Girls” features the famous female characters in one and a half minutes. “Locations” covers Bond’s worldwide travels amid the international espionage in one minute and 40 seconds.
The second section, titled “Bond in Motion”, covers vehicles, machine and other unique contraptions. This fast paced montage includes special shots like Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton waving to each other as producers take the time to find them in opposite camera angles.
The third section “Skyfall Videoblogs” contains almost 11 minutes of promotional style footage about the next Bond film coming in 2012 and includes Skyfall: Behind the Scenes, Sam Mendes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Production Update from Shanghai, Dennis Gassner Takes Us Inside the Look of Skyfall, and Jany Temime on Dressing 007 for Action.
The fourth section is “Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style” and lasts about a four-minute museum exhibition tour through a special James Bond exhibit at the Barbican Centre in London, England that will also tour Spain, Canada and the United States. Props, weapons, architectural models, scene depictions, concept art, costumes, and related art work are all included.
The fifth section, “Being Bond” features an approximately three-minute segment all the actors who have portrayed Bond. Viewers can also access different languages in the immense “Language Decryption” option that includes English SDH, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, , Korean, Polish, Indonesian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Mandarin, Czech, and Chinese Mandarin (Traditional and Simplified).
Other bonus materials accessible on each respective film’s blu-ray disc include extensive interviews, cast/crew commentaries, behind-the-scenes features, music videos, theatrical previews, vintage interviews, test screenings, premiere footage, and retrospective documentaries. Viewers can go as deep as they want.
An outstanding 23-Disc set offers a 50th anniversary commemorative experience that captures the allure, escapism, and aura that made the James Bond franchise popular all over the world. The set has a total 2748 minutes running time with ratings ranging from PG to PG-13.
Here are my best and worst Bond film picks:
“Best of Bond”…:
- Goldfinger-The third Bond film establishes the cornerstone for the series.
- Casino Royale-Craig’s debut impresses…so does returning director Martin Campbell.
- Live and Let Die-Roger Moore makes a great debut.
- Thunderball-The first film ever to make more than 100 million dollars worldwide.
- From Russia With Love-Connery’s acting appeal elevated Bond to a new level.
…and the bottom of Bond:
- Moonraker-This lengthy, boring installment has dated space themes that won’t help this movie stand the test of time.
- A View to a Kill-Even baddie Christopher Walken can’t save this one – Roger Moore’s last outing as Bond.
- World is Not Enough-Denise Richards as a scientist? Pierce Brosnan’s weakest outing as Bond.
- License to Kill-The semi truck stunt is amazing, but the overall visual style/directing doesn’t match the attempted edgy, revenge theme.
- Man With the Golden Gun-Another Bond detour that doesn’t quite hit the mark.
What are your best and worst Bond films?
Review: Bond 50 (Blu-ray version)
Where to Buy: Amazon and other stores
Price: currently ranging from $150.00 to $299.99
What I Like: Quality hi-def presentation, improved sound/visuals, varied bonus features, multiple panel case design with slip slots for the discs, all-in-one convenience
What Needs Improvement: A few missing extra features
Source: Personal copy