- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
By 1967, James Bond fever had peaked in America dissipated by a flood of spies both on television and at the movies. Lewis Gilbert’s You Only Live Twice did very well at the box-office (the second highest grossing movie of the year), but it was the first Bond film which didn’t outgross its predecessor, a sure sign of espionage fatigue setting in. Before the release of its twenty-fourth 007 film SPECTRE, MGM has re-packaged some of its previous Blu-ray releases of the films in which SPECTRE plays a major role and is offering them in attractive new steelbook cases with a digital copy code along with it.
Distributed By: Fox
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 1.0 DD (Mono), English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 57 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraVioletsteelbook case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 09/15/2015
The Production Rating: 4/5
SPECTRE under the command of Ernst Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) decides it can take over the world if it pits the two major superpowers, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., against one another, so a space missile launched from a hidden military installation in Japan swallows both American and Soviet space capsules confounding both countries with the occurrence. With the U.S. threatening war if their next launch ship is harmed in any way, the British send James Bond (Sean Connery) to Japan to learn all he can about what SPECTRE is up to.
Often denigrated by Bond enthusiasts, the film is actually quite action-filled and entertaining. There’s a marvelous car chase through Tokyo streets, a most entertaining dogfight with SPECTRE helicopters at the mercy of Bond’s gyrocopter Little Nellie, and a slam-bang finish to the film as Bond and his Japanese allies invade Blofeld’s underground headquarters hidden inside a dormant volcano crater. While Connery has obviously lost his zest for performing the role in the increasingly mammoth productions (he makes the unlikeliest looking Japanese peasant ever), the producers seem intent on outdoing their own previous successes by fashioning the world’s largest (at the time) indoor set and cramming huge action set pieces into the storytelling. The result is a film that’s giant in scope and yet relatively small in emotion. The Japanese locations are often breathtaking, and we get some great local color with a visit to a sumo wrestling match and a tour of a ninja training school. Shot by Oscar-winner Freddie Young, the film is beautiful to look at even when the drama is at its meekest.
Besides Connery’s less than gripping performance, the three ladies who spend the most time with the master spy are beautiful but lacking in much acting ability: Akiko Wakabayashi as the tragic Aki, Mie Hama as the plucky Kissy, and Karin Dor as Blofeld’s operative Helga Brandt don’t make the same kind of impressions that previous Bond girls and villainesses managed to burn into our brains. But Donald Pleasence, the first of the actors to play a Blofeld that we actually see full figure, turns out to be the best the lot to come. Tetsuro Tamba makes a great impression as Tiger Tanaka, the head of the Japanese Secret Service.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Though the digital clean-up has performed miracles in terms of clarity and sharpness, there’s a slight brownish tone to the color timing that seems to age the picture a bit. Flesh tones are also on the brown side, and color, while solid, doesn’t always snap with vivacity. The blacks, however, are excellent with the dark of space often blending right into the letterbox bars and aiding greatly in shadow detail. The main titles have not been windowboxed here. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 reconstituted sound mix has real explosive power for a film of this period. Excellent panning effects with the helicopters have been worked into the presentation, and the climactic fight inside the volcanic crater is impressive in its aural dynamics. John Barry’s beautiful music for the film gets a relatively frontcentric spread in the mix but there are occasional bleeds into the rears. Dialogue is always clear and resides firmly in the center channel. There is a Dolby Digital 1.0 track for purists, but it has a low bit rate and lacks fidelity on either end of the sound spectrum.
Special Features Rating: 5/5
Audio Commentary: presided over by John Cork who introduces the various members of the cast and crew as their previously recorded comments are edited expertly together to fit the proper places in the film where the remarks are pertinent. He also makes important observations at moments where there are no archival remarks to fit a particular moment. A very entertaining and informative commentary.
Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond (52:23, HD): a television special recapping the gals, gadgets, and action scenes from the previous four Bond films as a publicity point for the upcoming number five. There are also some highlights of Q’s contributions to the films with cameo appearances by Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn.
Whicker’s World (5:22, SD): excerpt comes from a 1967 BBC documentary featuring director Lewis Gilbert and producer Harry Broccoli commenting on the new film.
On Location with Ken Adam (13:59, SD): production designer Adam’s recollection of his astounding work on the film building the massive volcano interior set for a then-astonishing $1 million.
Exotic Locations (4:06, SD): a discussion of locations used for the film narrated by Maud Adams.
Inside You Only Live Twice (30:24, SD): the documentary summarizing the salient points about the production narrated by Patrick Macnee and featuring interviews with key cast and crew members.
Silhouettes: The James Bond Titles (23:24, SD): a loving tribute to the work of Maurice Bender who created many of the main title sequences from Dr. No up to his death in 1999. Examples from many of the credit sequences are shown (including follow-up sequences created after his death but in something of his signature style).
Plane Crash Storyboard Sequence (1:38, SD): exactly as it says, a montage of storyboards and film clips.
Three trailers (3:17, HD; 3:18, SD, 2:29, SD), one TV spot ad (0:59, SD), and seven radio ads can be watched separately or in play all functions for each.
Image Database: contains dozens of black and white and color pictures and artwork dividing the production photos into fifteen classifications.
Steelbook Packaging/Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.
Overall Rating: 4/5
You Only Live Twice with its rather intoxicating Nancy Sinatra-sung title song is a very entertaining James Bond adventure. Connery announced it would be his last one (though later he changed his mind and came back for one more with Eon Productions). Best Buy currently has the exclusive on these steelbook releases though Amazon is offering them for sale at an unspecified date, and marketplace vendors are asking outrageous prices to buy from them. In any event, for those who don’t already have it, recommended!
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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