James Bond Ultimate Edition Volume 2 – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Terence Young

Sean Connery….James Bond
Claudine Auger….Dominique “Domino” Derval
Adolfo Celi….Emilio Largo
Luciana Paluzzi….Fiona Volpe
Rik Van Nutter….Felix Leiter
Guy Doleman….Count Lippe

MGM, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment present Thunderball. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum & John Hopkins. Running time: 130 minutes. Rated PG. Theatrical release Dec. 21, 1965. DVD released Nov. 7, 2006.

The Spy Who Loved Me
Lewis Gilbert

Roger Moore….James Bond
Barbara Bach….Major Anya Amasova
Curt Jurgens….Karl Stromberg
Richard Kiel….Jaws
Caroline Munro….Naomi
Bernard Lee….M

MGM, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment present The Spy Who Loved Me? Screenplay by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum. Running time: 125 minutes. Rated PG. Theatrical release July 13, 1977. DVD released Nov. 7, 2006.

A View to a Kill
John Glen

Roger Moore….James Bond
Christopher Walken….Max Zorin
Tanya Roberts….Stacey Sutton
Grace Jones….May Day
Patrick Macnee….Sir Godfrey Tibbett
Desmond Llewelyn….Q

MGM, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents A View to a Kill. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson. Running time: 131 minutes. Rated PG. Theatrical release May 24, 1985. DVD released Nov. 7, 2006.

License to Kill
John Glen

Timothy Dalton….James Bond
Carey Lowell….Pam Bouvier
Robert Davi….Franz Sanchez
Talisa Soto….Lupe Lamora
David Hedison….Felix Leiter
Wayne Newton….Professor Joe Butcher
Benicio Del Toro….Dario

MGM, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment present License to Kill. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson. Running time: 133 minutes. Rated PG-13. Theatrical release July 14, 1989. DVD released Nov. 7, 2006.

Die Another Day
Lee Tamahori

Pierce Brosnan….James Bond
Halle Berry….Jinx
Toby Stephens….Gustav Graves
Rosamund Pike….Miranda Frost
Rick Yune….Zao
Judi Dench….M
John Cleese….Q
Michael Madsen….Damian Falco

MGM, 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Die Another Day. Screenplay by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Running time: 133 minutes. Rated PG-13. Theatrical release Nov. 22, 2002. DVD released Nov. 7, 2006.

The Movies:

Do you really need a rundown on the Bond movies in this boxset? Somewhere on the cable spectrum, a Bond marathon is guaranteed to be on Spike, AMC or the Travel Channel. Tune in and enjoy your first mission, newbie. After you’re addicted to the British super spy adventures from TV viewings, then shift from those shabby broadcast pan and scan versions to these magnificent DVDs. For those of you that haven’t bought any Bond DVDs, I envy you. There’s no struggling with the question of upgrading for you.

This is the third re-issue of Bond on DVD. And each time the folks at EON have improved them. Originally I had the resolve to hold out until the Hi-Def versions hit the market. I thought the Special Editions were good enough for my viewing pleasures. But after one look at what the Lowry restoration process did to the prints, I couldn’t write off the Ultimate releases as just another repackaging designed for a money grab. They looked fantastic on an HD TV.

There’s no real order to how the 20 titles were shuffled into the four boxsets except to mix them so you can’t merely buy one set and be satisfied. Fans of Sean Connery must deal with Roger Moore’s films. The only person who can be happy is George Lazenby’s cousin. The folks in charge of the Bond library know that people like myself won’t merely buy one of these boxes. Volume 2 is a mixed batch of titles. Squeezed inside the box are a few are my favorites and the absolute dogs of the series. Here’s a quick rundown of the movies:

Thunderball has all the top creative talents behind Bond working at their peak. This was the last Bond film that Terence Young directed. He refined the suave nature of Bond with his rough work. Maurice Binder perfected his iconic opening credit sequence with the sexy rotoscoped bodies swimming across the screen to Tom Jones’ title song. Connery looked his best as Bond. His hair piece seemed to fit wrong in You Only Live Twice. The plot involves Bond trying to recover two stolen nuclear bombs before SPECTRE sets them off. There’s plenty of action in the film including a huge underwater fight with a cast of hundreds. This is the Crackerjack prize in the boxset.

Spy Who Loved Me was one of the better Roger Moore-era Bonds. It balanced the high adventure and high tech gadgets upon his glib nature. I dug the Lotus that transformed into a submarine. As far as sex appeal, we’re given Barabra Bach as the Soviet agent Triple X. She joins Bond in tracking down an underwater madman. The film also introduced Jaws, a behemoth with metal teeth. Whatever he couldn’t crush with his fists, he’d merely eat. He was the last great henchman to chew on Bond. The film was over the top, but entertaining.

A View to a Kill could have been called A Bond Too Far. Roger Moore was pushing 50, but he looked like Willard Scott was going to wish him a happy 100th. He made M look youthful. Christopher Walken played a rich industrialist who wants to control the microchip industry by destroying San Francisco. They even give Walken a badass bodyguard played by Grace Jones, but it’s hard to feel the menace. The highlight stunt is a jump off the Eiffel Tower. But not much in the script elevates it above the mundane.

Licence to Kill was Timothy Dalton’s second and last turn in the tux. Bond quits the service in order to track down and kill a Latin American drug lord played by Robert Davi (Showgirls). The film seems more rough and tumble than the comic battles orchestrated in Roger Moore’s missions. But the writers can’t resist working in lame jokes which bring down the intensity. The highlight of the film is Wayne Newton as a televangelist whose pledges are orders from drug syndicates.

Die Another Day was the third strike in a row for Pierce Brosnan’s Bond. It has a couple sleek action moments, but the script’s a complete waste. The filmmakers were too busy playing tribute games to the series than truly entertaining the audience. The faux Richard Branson villain is forgettable. Plus we get to tolerate a Madonna cameo. This is the least enjoyable of all 21 Bond movies. But I’m not going to blame Pierce for this film stinking it up. His performance in The Matador shows he could have done more with the character. Even Halle Berry mimicking Ursula Andress’ bikini moment doesn’t fix anything. It’s a sad pathetic mess of a film.

Basically you’re stuck with two worst Bonds in order to get your hands on Thunderball and The Spy Who Loved Me. But at least you get amazing bonus features thrown in with each title. If you’re going to have A View to A Kill on the shelf, wouldn’t you want the Duran Duran music video inside it? The old Special Editions bonus features were lumped on the same DVD as the movie. This shared space cut into the picture quality. For the Ultimate Editions, all the bonus features are on a second DVD. They’ve dug up more vintage elements and behind the scenes footage. By the time you’ve made your way through the second DVDs of each film, you’ve received a Master’s Degree in Bond. You can’t completely dump your Die Another Day DVD since the bonus disc on Ultimate doesn’t include any trailers or Madonna’s theme song video.

Between the immaculate transfers, the expanded bonus features and the price, there’s no need to resist upgrading to the Ultimate Edition.

The DVD:

The Video:

All the films are in 2.35:1 anamorphic video. The transfers will make you drool.

The Audio:

Thunderball‘s audio tracks include Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS and original mono. There’s also a French dub. Two commentary tracks feature director Terence Young, editor Peter Hunt, screenwriter John Hopkins and others. The Spy Who Love Me‘s audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS and French. It has a solo commentary track from Roger Moore and a group effort with director Lewis Gilbert, Ken Adam, screenwriter Christopher Wood and Michael G. Wilson. A View to a Kill‘s audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS, the original Dolby Surround and French mono. The two commentary tracks are Moore solo in the studio and John Glen with cast and crew. Licence to Kill‘s audio is Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS, the original Dolby Surround and French. The two commentary tracks have John Glen with cast members while the other has Michael G. Wilson with the crew. Die Another Day‘s audio tracks are Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS and French. The commentary tracks have Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike on one while director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G. Wilson chat on the other. There’s also an MI6 Datastream that gives background information and video briefings as you watch the film. This is a carryover from the original DVD release.

The subtitles are in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Thai. The commentary tracks have subtitles in Chinese, Korean and Thai.

Special Features:

The Incredible World of James Bond – Original 1965 NBC TV Special (50:50) – This is a great special that hyped Thunderball while giving a recap of the first three films. Plus it tries to analyze the Bond character with a semi-biography of his early years as found in the books. Parts of this was featured on the Special Edition DVD.

A Child’s Guide to Blowing Up a Motor Car – 1965 Ford Promo Film (16:01) – breaks down the stunt where the motorcycle launches a rocket into a car.

On Location with Ken Adam (12:00) – the famed production designer shows off his home movies he took while scouting locations. Ken does a swell job at letting us know what and who we’re watching.

Bill Suitor: The Rocket Man Movies (3:55) – we get the skinny from the guy who flew the “jet pack” in the first scene. There’s lots of home movies showing off the flights need to make the scene.

Thunderball Boat Show Reel (2:32) – an early cut of the scuba battle that was presented at a Boat Show to hype the film’s release.

Selling Bond – Original 1965 TV Commercials (1:34) features 3 ads that sold 007 raincoats, slacks and action toys.

007 Mission Control is the quick study guide to the film with film snippets that show off the women, allies, villains, combat, gadgets and locations used in the film.

The Making of Thunderball (27:12) is imported from the Special Edition.

The Thunderball Phenomenon (31:00) is also from the Special Edition.

The Secret History of Thunderball (3:46) – deals with various changes between theatrical and video releases.

Ministry of Propaganda has three theatrical trailers, five TV ads and 10 radio commercials.

Image Database goes beyond the usual promotional stills. There’s pictures of the various toys tied in with the film.

Spy Who Loved Me:
007 in Egypt (6:11) has behind the scenes footage including Cubby’s legendary spaghetti dinner.

Roger Moore: My Name Is Bond (4:31) shows Moore’s press interviews done on the day the 007 Soundstage opened. Roger has an amazing reply to murdering his wife if he played the lead in Othello.

On Location with Ken Adam (5:55) shows how the production designer really enjoyed sneaking home movie footage of Barbara Bach sun tanning.

007 Stage Dedication (1:10) the original 1977 featurette shows off the mammoth soundstage that was made at Pinewoods.

Escape From Atlantis: Storyboard Sequence (2:20) allows us to see how the final battle between Jaws and Bond was mapped out in pre-production. The folks at EON didn’t settle for stick people.

Inside the Spy Who Loved Me (40:38) details the drama behind the first Bond film that didn’t have Harry Saltzman producing with Cubby Broccoli.

Ken Adam: Designing Bond (21:41) gives a moment to the man whose sets defined the 007 look. Odd piece of trivia, during World War II, Ken Adam was a German citizen, but flew combat missions for the RAF.

007 Mission Control is for those wanting just to see the Ski Pole Gun clip, here’s direct access.

Ministry of Propaganda has three theatrical trailers, six TV ads and eight radio commercials.

Image Database has production stills and international posters from the film.

A View to a Kill:
Film ’85 BBC Report (4:36) has an interview with the cast on the outdoor location used for the mine scenes.

Original Promotional Featurette (7:43) gives a mix of behind the scenes footage and interviews with preview clips.

The Streets of San Francisco – The Deleted Footage (3:04) has extra stunt footage of the fire truck going down the hills and around cable cars.

Float Like a Butterfly – Test Footage (1:32) shows the weird butterfly on a fishing pole scene being demonstrated.

Deleted Scenes (6:27) – the best “lost moment” is when Bond drops an F-bomb. There’s a comic scene where Bond gets back his posessions from a French cop. Director John Glen says it was cut cause it looked too much like a Pink Panther moment.

Alternate and Expanded Angle Scenes has three stunt scenes redone with unused footage. “The Eiffel Tower,” “The Drawbridge” and “Bond Rescues Stacey” get a second take.

Inside A View to A Kill (37:24) probes Roger Moore’s final mission as Bond.

The Bond Sound – The Music of James Bond (20:30) gives tribute to John Barry and other composers who defined music for spying and assisination.

“A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran (4:31) – Did you sister shriek when this video came on MTV? Simon LeBon and the boys prance around as spies.

007 Mission Control – For those who forget which women were the Bond Girls.

Ministry of Propaganda has three theatrical trailers and 4 TV ads.

Image Database has production stills and international posters from the film.

Licence to Kill:
Deleted Scenes (10:10) – Nine scenes that were snipped away. Director Glen intros each scene. None of the scenes make you wonder why they were knifed out.

Bond ’89 (11:42) consists of clips from location interviews with cast and crew including Dalton and producer Cubby Broccoli.

On Set with John Glen (9:26) has behind the scenes footage with the director explaining what’s going down on screen.

On Location with Peter Lamont (5:18) has home video shot by the production designer.

Ground Check with Corky Fornoff (4:46) gives the pilot a chance to explain his small plane stunts.

Inside Licence to Kill (31:59) – This documentary was made for the Special Edition.

Production Featurette: Behind the Scenes (4:56) – A quicky promo for the film with interviews and behind the scenes action.

Kenworth Truck Stunt Film (9:29) breaks down how the truck stunts were done at the end of the movie.

“Licence to Kill” by Gladys Knight (4:26) – Damn shame the Pips didn’t get to dance around in this faux-Maurice Bender music video. Truly a classic of cheesy 80s movie music.

“If You Asked Me To” by Patti LaBelle (4:00) has a lot of slow flowing curtains and water. Patti sports a lion’s mane hairdo.

Ministry of Propaganda (3:08) has two theatrical trailers.

Image Database contains the stills and promotional material. They also include the mock up posters from when the film was slated to be called “Licence Revoked.” The annoying part is the pics are presented inside a roulette wheel so they aren’t proper dimensions.

007 Mission Control has more of those notes for folks who aren’t sure what happened in the film.

Die Another Day:
From Script to Screen (51:40) – Of all the Bond movies, this script really doesn’t need to get any extra attention. Luckily it proceeds to how the film was made instead of lionizing the screenwriters.

Shaken and Stirred on Ice (23:33) captures the production’s visit to Iceland. It shows how the guys altered the cars for stunts and gadgets for the ice chase scenes.

Just Another Day (22:34) deals with the crew filming the parachute drop in front of Buckingham Palace.

The British Touch: Bond Returns in London (3:32) is a British Airways semi-promo for the scenes shot on their planes. We learn that the airline hostess serving Bond his martini is Roger Moore’s daughter.

On Location with Peter Lamont (13:52) has the production designer’s video footage of location scouts in Iceland, Alaska and Cuba. He also checks out the Ice Hotel in Sweden.

007 Mission Control cuts to the facts about this mission.

Image Database contains the stills shot for the film.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for James Bond Ultimate Edition Volume 2
(OUT OF 10)