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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Live and Let Die

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 3 Cameron Yee

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Posted October 28 2008 - 04:43 PM

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Release Date: Available now (original release date October 21, 2008)
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case with cardstock slipcover
Year: 1973
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2h02m
MSRP: $34.98

MAIN FEATURE
Video1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1
AudioDTS HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: English Mono, Spanish Mono, French 5.1
SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish

Note: Portions of this review include material from my review of the two-disc DVD included in the "James Bond Ultimate Collection, Volume 3." You can read the entirety of the review here.


The Feature: 2.5/5
James Bond (Roger Moore in his franchise debut) investigates the murder of three British agents, which leads him to a heroin operation run by a Carribean island's prime minister (Yaphet Kato).


Video Quality: 4/5
The film is correctly framed at 1.85:1, encoded in AVC and devoid of blemishes. Black levels are a little variable - at times they look a tad crushed while at others a little too gray. Fine object detail is very good - skin texture, foliage, and the intricate designs of Solitaire's costumes standing out in their clarity - though some shots may look a little softer than others. Colors have good depth and richness, most notable with reds as in the flames of the title sequence. Grain structure appears nicely preserved with no obvious signs of noise reduction or artificial edge enhancement.

In the previous DVD release the title sequence had problems with its contrast levels, looking washed out and blown out at various times. Fans should be pleased to know the problems have been corrected in this Blu-Ray release.


Audio Quality: 4/5
Presented in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, the mix is mostly front heavy with surrounds perking up only in support of the score and the occasional environmental effect. Dialogue sounds consistently clear and intelligible and though there are no instances of true LFE, there are a few moments of nice low end response, mostly during the action-packed finale. While there's nothing really to complain about technically, in general I found the experience a bit on the dull side, though I'm willing to admit that impression is influenced by my low opinion of the feature. The exception is the title sequence, in which the Wings' theme song has some nice dynamics and immersive effects.

Also included is the original mono track. Though not as detailed or crisp as the lossless option it is not a bad way to go and in some cases may seem more natural given the film's vintage.


Special Features: 3.5/5

All the special features from the "Ultimate Edition" DVD release have been ported over, with the "007 Mission Control" feature upgraded to high definition.

Audio Commentary with Sir Roger Moore: A few interesting stories spread over two hours make the commentary difficult to recommend, especially with the frequent moments of dead air and Moore's tendency toward mere description/reaction to scenes. There also doesn't seem to be much information offered that can't be learned on the other special features.

Audio Commentary Featuring Guy Hamilton: John Cork of the Ian Fleming Foundation returns as moderator and narrator with a collection of pre-recorded audio interviews with Director Hamilton and various members of the cast and crew. Though the track is not as replete with information as some others, it maintains the same level of quality.

Audio Commentary Featuring Tom Mankiewicz: Screenwriter Mankiewicz gets a commentary all his own and provides a fine blend of background information, production recollections and perspectives as a writer, though the track is not without gaps and it gets particularly sparse towards the end of the film. One of the recurring themes is the difference between writing for Roger Moore vs. writing for Sean Connery.

Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary (21m39s): Straightforward promotional style documentary with particular attention paid to stunts and action sequences. One bizarre moment - Julius Harris, who played Tee Hee, demonstrates his hook prop to a couple kids in a swimming pool - had me scratching my head.

Roger Moore as James Bond, Circa 1964 (7m44s): Moore's unearthed comedic portrayal of James Bond on television variety show "Mainly Millicent." Amusing.

Live and Let Die Conceptual Art (1m39s): Montage of poster art considered for promoting the film.

Credits (1m21s): Production credits for the "MI6 Vault."

007 Mission Control: An interesting feature, giving random access to scenes around a particular character or theme, all in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio and 1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1 video. Better than skipping through the feature disc? It depends. For fans of the opening title sequence, this is an easy way to access it. And obviously users aren't meant to watch all the clips, but only access their favorites; otherwise, why not just watch the feature disc? The one departure from simple clips from the film is the "Exotic Locations" item, which is a montage of film locales with narration by Maude Adams, presented in high definition with stereo audio.

Inside "Live and Let Die" (29m45s): Brief history of the film, featuring interviews with cast and crew and archival photos and film. Spends some time on the search for a new Bond and writing a film for a new generation. Nicely produced, entertaining, with some interesting archival footage, like all five of croc farm owner Ross Kananga's croc-hopping attempts. Presented in high definition with stereo audio.

On Set with Roger Moore: Funeral Parade (1m42s): Archival piece with Moore explaining the casting of a character in the funeral parade scene.

On Set with Roger Moore: Hang Gliding Lessons (3m51s): Archival piece showing Moore's preparation for the hang gliding scenes.

Theatrical Archive (4m40s): Two theatrical trailers in 4:3 standard.

TV Broadcasts (2m35s): Three TV spots with various themes, the first involving quite a bit of milk consumption for the UK Milk Board.

Radio Communication (1m30s): Two promotional radio spots.

Image Database: A modest image gallery with the requisite mix of promotional stills, on-set shots, and advertising materials.

"Quantum of Solace" Movie Cash: In promotion of the upcoming Bond film starring Daniel Craig, a cover sticker has a code to access an online coupon worth up to $10.50 toward the purchase of a ticket for the movie. The sticker left a fair amount of adhesive on the cardstock cover, though it was easily removed with duct tape.


Title Recap

The Feature: 2.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

For new fans of "Live and Let Die," the Blu-Ray release is an obvious choice, having very good audio and video to go along with a decent number of extras, one of which is now in high definition. For previous owners of the DVDs, the decision to re-purchase the title on Blu-Ray will ultimately come down to how much they enjoy the film. I found the movie one of the weaker titles in the franchise and the special features less insightful than those on other Bond titles. Ultimately, "Live and Let Die" won't be for everyone but should please those who consider themselves fans of Roger Moore's Bond debut.
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#2 of 3 Gary Murrell

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Posted October 28 2008 - 09:01 PM

fabulous looking release, 100% agreed, albeit slight black crushing that you noted

I have waited for years for the Bonds on a HD format and I just don't have enough good things to say about these

-Gary

#3 of 3 Osato

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Posted November 27 2008 - 04:41 AM

Nice to hear they have corrected the minor issues that the UE DVD had.

Jane Seymour and the boat chase are big highlights for me in Live and Let Die.

"Just being disarming."





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