Release Date: March 24, 2009
Film Rating: 3 ½/5
James Bond Blu-ray Volume Three is the latest collection of Bond catalogue Blu-ray releases, this time intended to compliment the initial home video release of the newest Bond film, Quantum of Solace. For the most current trio of releases, UA has once again selected highlights from three different eras of Bond films: The World is Not Enough, Goldfinger and Moonraker. In this three-disc Blu-ray set, each disc presents its film in a lovely 1080p AVC transfer with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound mix and a treasure trove of extras carried over from the 2006 standard definition Ultimate Edition releases.
This collection spans roughly 35 years and 17 films in the series. The first film in the collection, The World is Not Enough represents the Pierce Brosnan era with what is probably the second best of his four efforts. In this case, the film tries to bend some of the formulas of the series, both in terms of characters switching their loyalties and in terms of trying some new ideas, like staging a major action sequence right out of the MI6 building itself. It can’t quite overcome some of the creakier moments (many of the quips and the double entendres are a bit forced), but the action sequences still amaze and the film has a solid sense of scale. Goldfinger, on the other hand, represents the peak of the Sean Connery era, and while it’s quite dated at this point, it’s amazing how much of the film works on its own terms. In addition to the original cast being in their best form, the plot mostly works. (I have some questions about how Bond manages to turn one character around so quickly, but the movie goes by so quickly it’s hard to quibble.) And even after 45 years, it’s still a pleasure to see the original Aston Martin in all its glory. The final film in this set, Moonraker represents the Roger Moore era, and has a mixed history, although it’s one of the more popular Moore outings. It is known as possibly the most gadget-heavy of all the films, and the most self-referential in its humor. It brings back one of the series most effective heavies, Jaws, but then plays him almost completely for laughs, including an absolutely bizarre romantic interlude in the middle of the film’s climax. But I have to also acknowledge a grudging affection for the film. The sheer spectacle of the whole thing, ranging all the way from Venice to Rio to outer space, is breathtaking at times. And Michael Lonsdale’s Drax is given some of the best villain dialogue in the entire series. (Second only to Gert Frobe’s Goldfinger...)
I should take a moment here to note the history of the multiple releases of these titles, given how many times they have been presented on home video and the resulting confusion. In the case of The World is Not Enough, this will be its third iteration on DVD, the first having come after its initial theatrical run and the second being in the Ultimate Editions released in 2006. Goldfinger and Moonraker are now in their fourth DVD releases, not including multiple VHS and laserdisc editions that span an additional fifteen years before that. On two prior releases, consumers were told the current release would be the “Ultimate Special Edition”, and yet here we are in 2009 with a new release of the title. So I feel I should address this directly here. If you have already purchased the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVDs of these titles, it’s simply a matter of whether the 1080p transfers are worth the additional purchase. In that event, I’d recommend renting them and evaluating the higher quality transfer. If, on the other hand, you’ve either never purchased these titles before or have only seen the editions available as of 2000, then the restorations and the 2006 special features are well worth your time. It’s also a more attractive price point to pick these up in the collected volume if you’re a fan of at least two of the titles. Casual observers will likely want to think about this carefully before making new purchases, so I will be as thorough as I can in describing the features to be found on each of these titles.
VIDEO QUALITY: 4 ½/5 ½
Each of the three films is presented in a lovely 1080p AVC transfer at an average of over 20 mbps, courtesy of the restoration work done by Lowry Digital around 2006. The World is Not Enough is likely not one that needed much restoration given its relatively recent production. It has a sleek look to it, with a lot of darker colors in its palette as photographed by Adrian Biddle. The high definition clarity reveals many fine details in the wardrobe and production design, and actually reveals a minor continuity error in the film’s teaser. (The opening sequence was shot mostly on location in Spain in overcast and rainy weather. So the exterior shots tend to show dark and grey skies over wet buildings and people. But the interior set used for much of the action has a translite backdrop showing the same buildings in bright sunlight. On a standard definition transfer, I could not discern this so much – but at 1080p it practically jumps at the viewer.) (I’m not saying that’s a problem with a transfer, by the way – that’s just an example of how much more you can see in a high definition image.) Goldfinger really benefits from the restoration work, with the transfer showing off a print that is remarkably clear and fresh for a film that is 45 years old! Again, there are many wardrobe and location details that jump out at the viewer, including Bond’s Miami bathrobe, and the clarity of the water in the Miami hotel pool. At the same time, the higher level of clarity makes the plate shots used for the Miami scenes stand out – it’s evident each time the actors are standing in front of projected backgrounds. There’s also one oddity I am still trying to figure out from the Flying Circus cockpit photography near the film’s climax. In at least three cockpit shots (two of which are on the team leader), large scratches can be seen on the cockpit glass behind the head of the pilot. I initially thought these were on the negative, but then realized that that the pilot’s head moves in front of them and partly blocks them from view. If anyone else notices these scratches, I encourage you to respond to this thread. You can find them at 1:28:35 to start, and then in at least two shots fairly soon afterwards. Moonraker similarly benefits from the improved clarity of its 1080p transfer, with the outer space effects coming across quite nicely. The space station reveal is particularly stunning, as it emerges into the light from an inky black. And again, the clarity is enough to give away at least one effects trick – one of the shuttle launches can clearly be seen to be on three wires pulling the shuttle and its booster rockets. Flesh tones for all three films are improved from earlier transfers, particularly on Goldfinger which has the best coloring of any of its releases to date. (I should mention here that I noted the same extreme paleness of Bernard Lee in the early scenes of Moonraker as Robert Harris has commented, but I attributed this to this being part of his final appearance as "M" and due to his age at the time. I recall John Glen noting in his book For My Eyes Only that Lee was ill during the production. By the same token, Desmond Llewelyn's appearance in The World is Not Enough makes his age quite apparent.) In short, these transfers are the best these films have every looked on home video. I should acknowledge here that I am viewing this film on a 40” Sony XBR2 LCD. If any viewers here are watching the film on a 60” or larger monitor and are seeing anything unfortunate, please put a comment here and I’ll check it out.
I’m going to address another issue here, which is the reason that I am holding back a ½ star in my evaluation of all three transfers. As has been noted on threads on this site, the credits for both The World is Not Enough and Moonraker have been windowboxed both for the opening titles and the closing credits. Distortions can be seen, particularly at the center of the image when circular objects take on a more oblong appearance. The reason for this is evidently to make sure that all the credits can be read, as they tend to go all the way from the left edge of the frame to the right edge. Thankfully, each film also has a textless version of the opening titles included in the special features, so that viewers can see the full unsqueezed image, albeit without credits. I also noticed that the end credits for Moonraker actually still go a bit off the right edge of the screen, and appear to shift slightly to the right as they roll up the screen.
One other controversy raised on the boards here has to do with a few frames apparently missing from one scene of Goldfinger, where Oddjob drives Mr. Solo to an important appointment. Given that Lowry Digital has already responded to this question (they restored the original negative supplied to them by UA), I see it as a moot point. There may in fact be three frames missing from that sequence, but it did not affect my enjoyment of the transfer, the scene or the film.
AUDIO QUALITY: 4/5
Each of the three films is presented in a 2.5+ mbps DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in French and Spanish that lives at 448 kbps. The bitrates go up a bit during the heavier action sequences as the explosions and such go off. These are fairly energetic mixes, albeit with the dialogue tending to stay in the front channels. Surrounds get more of a workout once the action sequences get going, in addition to showcasing two effective John Barry scores. Most of the mix lives in the front channels here, including most of the atmospheric effects. Goldfinger also includes the original English mono soundtrack from the 1964 release, and Moonraker includes an English Dolby Surround mix.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 4 ½/5 ½
It is in the Special Features area that things get really complicated here, so I will try to be both thorough and clear in my descriptions. The first thing to understand is that all the extras available here are conversions or lifts from the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVDs. Some features are now presented in high definition, while others are still in standard definition. Each film has a pair of commentaries and a brace of featurettes and other supplements to tell as much as possible about the making of these films. The second thing to understand is that while the 2006 releases were spread over two discs, the new Blu-rays keep each film and its supplements to a single disc. A single menu breaks everything up, and is pretty simple to follow, once you get the hang of it.
Once you start each disc up, you are presented with the following options: “Initiate Mission”, “Mission Selection”, “MI6 Commentary”, “Language Decryption” and “Special Features”. Several of these are fairly obvious, but these essentially translate to “Play Movie”, “Scene Selection”, “Commentaries”, “Languages” and “Special Features”.
Once you get into the “Special Features” menu, there are several submenus: “MI6 Declassified Vault”, “007 Mission Control”, “Mission Dossier”, “Ministry of Propaganda” and “Image Database”. Basically, these submenus each cover a separate area.
-“MI6 Declassified Vault” holds the newer features assembled for the 2006 releases.
-“007 Mission Control” mostly holds bookmarks for key moments in each film as they apply to key characters or situations. It also holds the textless version of the opening titles and a brief narrated guide to the various “exotic locations” seen in the film. In the 2006 release, this section was available on the 2nd disc and would access clips arranged on that disc. For the current Blu-ray releases, this section accesses the bookmarks within the feature itself. As a sidenote, if you turn subtitles or commentary tracks on, those will still be active when you access the bookmarks through this section.
-“Mission Dossier” holds the various documentaries and featurettes carried over from the 1999/2000 editions of the DVDs, including a “Making of” documentary for each film, additional production featurettes and the occasional music video.
-“Ministry of Propaganda” holds the theatrical trailer, in addition to radio and TV advertising.
-“Image Database” holds a collection of production photos and promotional photos and artwork for each film.
As a general warning here, I have to openly state that a good number of the special features here contain MANY SPOILERS. If you want to experience the films as a fresh and new experience, DO NOT WATCH ANY OF THE SPECIAL FEATURES UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE ALREADY SEEN EACH FILM. I must also warn you that by necessity, my descriptions of the special features may in and of themselves contain spoilers as well.
I’ll add one more thing before breaking everything down. I have once again held back a ½ star even in light of all the special features here, for a single reason. There are no subtitles available for any of the featurettes or documentaries. It may be a little peevish of me, but there are times when it can be hard to understand what people are saying, and the lack of subtitles can be really problematic.
Let’s take each of the discs in order:
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH:
007 MISSION CONTROL
- Commentary with Director Michael Apted – Michael Apted provides a scene-specific commentary, discussing the shots at hand and his various choices throughout the film. This commentary has been available through each DVD release of the film.
- Commentary with Peter Lamont, David Arnold and Vic Armstrong – This is another scene-specific commentary, as done by a group including Production Designer Peter Lamont, composer David Arnold and second unit director/stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong. Like the commentary by Apted, this one has been available through each iteration of this film on DVD.
- DECLASSIFIED MI6 VAULT:
- Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Director Michael Apted (12:49 Total) (1080p, 16x9) (Dolby 2.0 sound) – Michael Apted introduces several additional scenes and extensions dropped from the final film. While this is presented in high definition, the scenes themselves appear to be video telecine dubs, so they are of a lower picture quality than you might think. The scenes are mostly unnecessary extensions or pieces of exposition that the audience doesn’t need. Most of the time here is taken up with Apted’s descriptions of them; the actual scenes are usually not that long.
- The Boat Chase – (1080p, 16x9) – This is actually a section unto itself, covering the boat to boat chase on the Thames in the film’s pre-credit sequence. There’s an introduction to the section by Michael Apted (1:10) that explains what you can find here. Next, there’s an extended version of the chase (8:27) which appears to be a rough early cut of the sequence on telecine video with no inserts. (The various close-ups of control panels, monitors, etc, are not part of the scene yet.) Next, there’s a three-fold way to view the actual scene. Viewers can switch between an “expanded angle” version, which presents anywhere from 2 to 5 different angles of the coverage at the same time. The final version can be seen at the lower right corner of the screen, with the unused additional angles filling the rest of the screen. An “alternate angle” version can be accessed by pressing the red button on your remote or selecting it directly from the menu. This just reassembles the same scene using additional unused coverage. Finally, the “Original Version” of the scene (the completed version) can be brought up to fill the screen either by pressing the red button again or selecting it from the menu. This three-fold section runs 6:24. The completed version of the scene is lifted from the 1080p transfer with full DTS-HD MA sound. The other two optional angles use the same soundtrack but the visual image is a much lower quality video transfer.
- James Bond Down River (1999 Featurette) (25:04) (480p, Full Frame) – A “Making of” featurette from the time of the film’s release is included here in standard definition.
- Creating an Icon: Making the Teaser Trailer (4:26) (480p, Full Frame) – This featurette is essentially a discussion with Tom Kennedy of how the film’s trailer was created, including some outtake footage of Pierce Brosnan and the female model whose outline would be filled with flames in the completed teaser.
- Hong Kong Press Conference – (9:46) (480p, Anamorphic) This is an appearance by Pierce Brosnan in Hong Kong to answer questions and promote the film. Brosnan makes some interesting comments here about wanting to make a non-formula Bond film next time out.
- Credits (1:16) (480p, 16x9) – This is a quick credit roll for the team that put together the MI6 Vault features, headed by John Cort.
This section mostly consists of scene clips accessed from the film on the disc, so it can be seen as a series of bookmarks based on characters, action or gadgets.
007 – (1080p) – This section includes bookmarks for the opening “Gun Barrel” moment, and then two further character moments during the film. In the middle are presented two versions of the film’s opening titles and song. One version is the windowboxed opening seen on the disc, and the other is a textless alternative that presents the film in its correct aspect ratio. A “Play All” function is available if you wish to view both versions of the titles back to back.
WOMEN (1080p) – Bookmarks are presented for the two “Bond Girls” of the film, with Dr. Christmas Jones getting 8 bookmarks, and Dr. Warmflash getting 3.
ALLIES (1080p) – Bookmarks are presented for Bond’s allies here. M gets a whopping 14, Moneypenny gets 4, Q gets 2 and Zukovsky gets 8.
VILLAINS (1080p) – Bookmarks are here for the film’s villains. Elektra gets 22, Renard gets 7 and the Cigar Girl gets 3
MISSION COMBAT MANUAL (1080p) – 7 bookmarks are here for the various fight scenes in the film.
Q BRANCH (1080p) – 11 bookmarks are here for in-scene demonstrations of the various gadgets used in the film.
EXOTIC LOCATIONS (3:48) (1080p, 16x9) – Samantha Bond narrates a series of clips from the film, discussing the locations used by the production.
The Making of The World is Not Enough (15:06) (480p, Full Frame) – A brief making-of featurette covers much of the same ground as the longer one found in the MI6 Vault.
The Bond Cocktail – (22:52) (480p, Full Frame) – This featurette goes over the typical mix of elements found in Bond films, ranging from the earlier films through this one.
Tribute to Desmond Llewelyn (3:22) (480p, Full Frame) – As Desmond Llewelyn passed away one month after the film’s premiere, a brief featurette is included with clips of various scenes of Q at work.
The World is Not Enough Music Video by Garbage (4:01) (480p, Non-Anamorphic) – A music video by Shirley Manson and Garbage is included here, showing a decidedly different take on the song than that seen in the film’s opening titles.
The Secrets of 007 Alternative Video Options (22:31 Total) (480p, Full Frame) – This is a mixture of on-set footage, storyboards and clips from the film of several key sequences.
MINISTRY OF PROPAGANDA
- Release Trailer – (2:13) (1080p, 16x9) – The film’s theatrical trailer is presented here in 1080p.
The final special feature on the disc is a series of photos of the cast and crew, the locations, and some of the marketing for the film.
DECLASSIFIED MI6 VAULT:
- Commentary with Director Guy Hamilton – John Cort moderates a scene-specific commentary by Guy Hamilton. Hamilton goes silent for some periods, but Cort then fills in the gaps with additional notes and information. This commentary has been available since the 1999 DVD release, and is not to be confused with the now-legendary Criterion laserdisc commentary.
- Commentary with Various Cast and Crew – John Cort moderates a second commentary track, this time with various members of the cast and crew, including stunt players and on-set effects men. Like the Hamilton commentary, this one has been available since the 1999 DVD.
007 MISSION CONTROL
- Sean Connery from the set of Goldfinger (3:12) (480p, Full Frame, Black and White) – A brief BBC interview with Sean Connery on the dungeon cell set is included here, with Connery discussing the various projects he’s been working on over the past year.
- Theodore Bikel Screen Test – (5:39) (1080p, 16x9, Sepia) – Theodore Bikel’s screen test for the role of the villain is included here in high definition. He performs Goldfinger’s dialogue from the infamous laser scene twice, with and without glasses.
- Tito Vandis Screen Test (4:13) (1080p, 16x9, Sepia) – Tito Vandis tests for the role of Goldfinger, using a different scene from that of Bikel.
- On Tour With the Aston Martin DB5 (11:43) (1080i, 16x9) – Mike Ashley narrates an assembly of footage covering the promotional tour he did with the gadget-laden vehicle at the time of the film’s release. Several commercials and promotional films are included in the mix, along with a children’s show featuring a promotional miniature version of the car. As a sad final note, Ashley notes that the original Aston Martin from the film was stolen out of Boca Raton in 1997 and hasn’t been seen since…
- Honor Blackman Open-Ended Interview – (3:58) (480p, Full Frame, Black and White) Several minutes of one-sided interview footage with Honor Blackman is presented here. The idea is that reporters at the time could insert themselves asking the appropriate questions and thus have an instant interview with the female lead of the latest Bond film.
- Credits (1:23) (480p, 16x9) – As before, this is a quick credit roll for the team that put together the MI6 Vault features, headed by John Cort.
- 007 – (1080p) – As before, this section includes bookmarks for the opening “Gun Barrel” moment, and then two further character moments during the film. In the middle is presented two versions of the film’s opening titles and song. Given that this film is presented in a 1.66:1 ratio, no windowboxing is involved with the opening titles. Thus, the only difference between the feature version and the textless one is the lack of printed credits. As before, both versions can be viewed in succession with a “Play All” function.
- WOMEN (1080p) – Bookmarks are presented for the three “Bond Girls” of the film, with Jill Masterson getting 4 bookmarks, Tilly Masterson getting 4, and Pussy Galore getting 8 bookmarks.
- ALLIES (1080p) – Bookmarks are presented for Bond’s allies here. M gets a whopping 2, Moneypenny gets 1, Q gets 1 and Felix Leiter gets 6.
- VILLAINS (1080p) – Bookmarks are here for the film’s villains. Bonita gets 2, Capungo gets 1, Goldfinger gets 13 and Oddjob gets 8.
- MISSION COMBAT MANUAL (1080p) – 6 bookmarks are here for the various fight scenes in the film.
- Q BRANCH (1080p) – 5 bookmarks are here for in-scene demonstrations of the various gadgets used in the film. Be advised that two of the bookmarks are mislabelled. The “Grappling Gun” and “Seagull Snorkel” are neatly reversed on the bookmarks, so they refer to each other.
- EXOTIC LOCATIONS (3:15) (1080p, 16x9) – Maud Adams narrates a series of clips from the film, discussing the locations used by the production.
MINISTRY OF PROPAGANDA
- The Making of Goldfinger (26:00) (1080i, 16x9) – Here we have a “Making of” featurette that dates back to the VHS box set release from 1995. Narrated by Patrick Macnee, it’s a solid look at the making of the film, and for the Blu-ray, it’s been upgraded with a high definition transfer.
- The Goldfinger Phenomenon – (29:14) (1080i, 16x9) – As with the prior featurette, this one was originally produced for the 1995 VHS box set. It includes radio interview material with Connery, a Vicks commercial with Harold Sakata, and a publicity featurette for the film from 1964.
- Original Publicity Featurette (2:15) (480p, Full Frame) – The publicity featurette included in the prior item is presented here on its own. It includes Harold Sakata’s screen test and footage of Bond and Galore’s roll in the hay.
- Original Theatrical Trailer – (3:08) (1080p, 16x9) – The film’s theatrical trailer is presented here in 1080p and 2.0 sound.
- TV Broadcasts – (1:46 Total) (480p, Full Frame) – Three TV spots are included here, 2 of which have a shot of Ursula Andress from Dr. No.
- Radio Communication – (31:08 Total) – This is really a combination of radio material from 1964, starting with 11:50 of open-ended interview material with Connery. (In other words, this is the same idea as the Honor Blackman interview seen in the MI6 Vault material.) John Cort fills in for the local reporters who would insert their questions before Connery’s prepared answers. The remaining 19:18 consists of 33 radio advertisements, most of which run in the neighbourhood of 30 seconds.
As before the final special feature on the disc is a series of photos of the cast and crew, the locations, and some of the marketing for the film.
- Commentary with Sir Roger Moore – Roger Moore provides a scene-specific commentary that provides rewards throughout the film, although there are some gaps. Moore starts off all of his commentaries by saying that he really doesn’t remember much about the filming, but as things get underway, he reveals a wealth of information about the production, the cast, and his own insights about his career in the business. During the opening titles, he mentions the possibility that the film’s song could have been performed by Frank Sinatra and tells stories of spending Easters at Sinatra’s compound in Palm Springs. As the film comes to a close, he relates David Niven’s metaphor of every production being like going on a cruise where you see the same people every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but may never see those people again when the ship docks. As a valedictory statement, Moore says “I was very lucky; I got to get on the right cruises.” This commentary, like all of Moore’s Bond commentaries, was recorded for the 2006 Ultimate Edition DVDs, and is thankfully carried over here.
- Commentary with Lewis Gilbert, Christopher Wood, William Cartlidge and Michael Wilson – This is another scene-specific group commentary, done with everyone assembled to watch the film together as John Cort moderates. Contributing here are director Lewis Gilbert, screenwriter Christopher Wood, associate producer William Cartlidge, and of course, producer Michael G. Wilson. This commentary has been available on the DVD releases of this film since 2000.
DECLASSIFIED MI6 VAULT:
- 007 in Rio (1979 Featurette) (12:45) (1080p, Full Frame) – The original “making of” promotional featurette from the film’s release is included here, emphasizing the South American portion of the shoot.
- Bond ‘79 – (1080i, Full Frame) – Michael Wilson introduces this assembly of interview footage taken during the South American shoot. Cubby Broccoli, Lewis Gilbert, Roger Moore and Lois Chiles each discuss the production and Bond films in general.
- Ken Adam’s Production Films (12:03) (480p, Full Frame) – Ken Adam narrates an assembly of the “home movies” he shot while on location for the film in South America and Venice. Some people are identified with on-screen titles along the way, although Adam tends to announce who they are as well.
- Learning to Freefall – Skydiving Test Footage (3:56) (480p, Full Frame) – Narrated by Michael Wilson, this is an assembly of the test footage shot by Rande DeLuca with parachutists including B.J. Worth, in preparation for the mid-air fight that opens the film. Wilson discusses a matter here that is repeated both in the commentary and the featurettes, but it’s an important point: In order to film with a 35mm camera mounted on the helmet of a parachutist, the producers had to find a lightweight camera and a lightweight anamorphic lens. Otherwise, the force of the parachute opening could well snap the man’s neck from the weight of the camera! Wilson also discloses that DeLuca died of cancer at the age of 37, only a few years after working on this and several other Bond films.
- Skydiving Storyboards – (1:21) (480p, Full Frame) Nearly 90 seconds of storyboards are presented for the skydiving sequence, including a surprising idea about having the characters lose each other inside a cloud bank.
- Circus Footage (1:19) (1080i, 16x9) – Michael Wilson introduces nearly a minute of interior circus tent footage shot for the opening sequence at the Hippodrome. In the end, only a single shot of this was used. A few stills are shown from a lost shot of Jaws walking out of the wreckage of the tent and glaring upward.
- Cable Car Alternative Storyboard 1 (1:23) (480p, Full Frame) Michael Wilson narrates an assembly of storyboards for the end of the cable car sequence. In the storyboards, the idea of Jaws’ girlfriend is shown for her to be as tall and strong as him. The actual clip of Jaws encountering the much smaller Dolly is included at the end for contrast.
- Cable Car Alternative Storyboard 2 (2:10) (480p, Full Frame) Michael Wilson narrates a second assembly of storyboards for the cable car sequence, this one for an alternative version where Jaws stays at the dispatch station with his sidekick Ratz and tries to bite through the cables from there.
- Credits (1:22) (480p, 16x9) – As with the other discs, this is a quick credit roll for the team that put together the MI6 Vault features, headed by John Cort.
007 MISSION CONTROL
As with the other discs, the final special feature on the disc is a series of photos of the cast and crew, the locations, and some of the marketing for the film.
- 007 – (1080p) – This section includes bookmarks for the opening “Gun Barrel” moment, and then two versions of the film’s opening titles and song. One version is the windowboxed opening seen on the disc, and the other is a textless alternative that presents the film in its correct aspect ratio. The textless alternative also allows the viewer to see an undistorted view of the first shot in M’s office, which is still windowboxed in the feature presentation on the disc. And again, a “Play All” feature is available for viewing both versions of the title sequence.
- WOMEN (1080p) – Bookmarks are presented for the three “Bond Girls” of the film, with Holly Goodhead getting 10 bookmarks, Corinne Dufour getting 4, and Manuela getting 3.
- ALLIES (1080p) – Bookmarks are presented for Bond’s allies here. M gets a 7, Moneypenny gets 3, Q gets 5, the Minister of Defence gets 4, General Gogol gets 1, Colonel Scott gets 2 and Jaws’ girlfriend Dolly gets 4.
- VILLAINS (1080p) – Bookmarks are here for the film’s villains. Hugo Drax gets 10, Jaws gets 12, Chang gets 5, the Apollo Jet Crew gets 1, the unsuccessful Tree Assassin gets 1, and the Venice Assassins get 1. I should note again that in my opinion, Drax has some of the best Bond villain lines of the series, all of which can be enjoyed here with the bookmarks. One classic: “James Bond, you appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.”
- MISSION COMBAT MANUAL (1080p) – 11 bookmarks are here for the various fight scenes in the film.
- Q BRANCH (1080p) – 9 bookmarks are here for in-scene demonstrations of the various gadgets used in the film.
- EXOTIC LOCATIONS (4:37) (1080p, 16x9) – Maud Adams narrates a series of clips from the film, discussing the locations used by the production.
- Inside Moonraker - An Original Documentary (42:02) (1080i, 16x9) – A fairly thorough look at the making of the film is presented here, narrated by Patrick MacNee as he did with the Goldfinger featurettes. There’s a lot of ground covered here, including the various locations chosen (and some material put off for Octopussy four years later. And there’s a priceless bit with Derek Meddings about the rejection of a major American visual effects company for bidding way too high, which of course left Meddings with the task of figuring out how to do all the visuals himself.
- The Men Behind the Mayhem – The Special Effects of James Bond – (19:01) (1080i, 16x9) – This featurette reviews the various major physical and visual effects (mostly explosions, of course) through the history of the Bond movies. Interview material with the late John Stears and the late Derek Meddings is appropriately included, as are mentions of both of their passings.
MINISTRY OF PROPAGANDA
- Release Trailer – (3:41) (1080p, 16x9) – The film’s long-ish theatrical trailer is presented here in 1080p.
The usual pop-up menu bar is present and can be accessed during the film. The menu activates automatically when you put the disc into the player. There is a thorough scrolling chapter list included under the “Mission Selection” screen. The films are subtitled in English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin, but as mentioned earlier, the special features have no subtitles or any other audio option besides English.
IN THE END...
James Bond Blu-ray Volume Three assembles three popular Bond films from different generations in a single attractive package. For those who have already picked up one or more of the earlier incarnations of these films on DVD or other home video formats, the real question will be whether the high definition picture and sound make an additional dip worthwhile. For serious Bond fans, I would say absolutely yes. For more casual fans, I recommend a rental first to evaluate the picture yourself. And for those who have either never seen or owned these films before, this is a great way to see the films and learn a lot about them.
April 15, 2009.