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Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2008

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"The James Bond Series" (Six Films) (Blu-ray)

movie-october-2008-james-bond-series.jpgSynopsis

Here we go with the first of six James Bond thrillers, and I am sure the rest will eventually come. Why Goldfinger was not in the first group is a good question.

Anyway, let's start with Dr. No (1962), which finds Bond taking a trip to Kingston, Jamaica to find out what happened to a government agent named Strangways. This is the first Bond movie, so when M is telling Bond of his mission, he also mentions that the organization is MI-7, and that the "00" in Bond's agent number means he is licensed to kill.

In Jamaica, Bond discovers that Dr. No is a mad scientist who is bent on destroying the US Space Program. It is in this movie that we see the now famous scene with Ursula Andress coming out of the water onto the beach, in what was then a very small swimsuit. The expression on Bond's face is priceless.

Together, Bond and this first "Bond Girl" (Andress) make a dash through Dr. No's facility to stop whatever it is they are trying to do with all those old fashioned knobs and dials.

In From Russia with Love (1963), we are introduced to a secret organization called SPECTRE, run by a guy whose face we don't see because the camera is focused on a white cat sitting in his lap (this is another famous scene).

SPECTRE's goal is to steal a Russian decoding machine that Bond says he has been wanting for years. But SPECTRE doesn't just want to get the decoder, they want to blame Great Britain in the process.

So, SPECTRE sends a supposedly defecting Russian - actually a SPECTRE agent - to meet with the British in Istanbul to turn over the decoder. The defector is our second Bond girl, Lotte Lenya. We are also treated to a bleached blond Robert Shaw as one of SPECTRE's henchmen.

Thunderball was released in 1965, and the aspect ratio was now 2.35:1 instead of the old 1.66:1 format.

SPECTRE (Number 1 is still shown from the waist down with that white cat in his lap) announces to NATO that they have stolen two nuclear missles and unless they are paid 100,000,000 pounds in uncut perfect diamonds, they will launch one missle into the UK and the other into the USA.

So, Bond is sent to Nassau to track down the people who have issued the threat and stop a nuclear disaster.

For Live and Let Die (1973), we have a new Bond in Roger Moore. It's shot at 1.85:1, but the sound is much better than the previous three discs. Much more depth and clarity.

With the loss of three agents, MI-7 discovers an international drug cartel that is threatening to deliver lots of nasty substances of abuse to the streets.

Bond goes to New York, first to the Oh Cult Voodoo Shop. He finds that the leaders of the drug cartel are immersed in voodoo as part of their plans.

He meets Solitaire (Seymour) who predicts the future, another aid to the cartel. Of course, she becomes a Bond girl, apparently to her own surprise.

On to New Orleans, another city where voodoo is a big thing, and the climax to the story.

For Your Eyes Only (1981) begins with SPECTRE's Number 1, with the white cat still in his lap, taking control of Bond's helicopter in order to crash it and kill Bond. But the tables are turned when Jimmy takes back control of the helicopter and dumps Number 1 into a deep chimney. What I want to know is why didn't the SPCA complain that the cat went down the chimney too.

Anyway, when a British ship that has ATAC (Automatic Target Attack Communicator) installed is sunk before the ATAC hardware can be destroyed, Bond is sent to Greece to infiltrate the underworld and make sure that ATAC does not fall into the wrong hands. It turns out that ATAC can control the complete British fleet of nuclear submarines.

Finally, in this set of six films, we have Die Another Day (2002), with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, and Halle Berry as the Bond girl.

It begins with Bond in North Korea on a secret mission, only to be discovered, imprisoned and tortured for more than a year.

He is exchanged, and M (now played by the inimitable Judi Dench) is not taking any chances, knowing that James had been under severe interrogation for so long by agents in North Korea, so she has James kept under quarantine and close watch.

James is finally back on the job though, and his assignment is to discover and terminate a group of terrorists whose plan is to control their enemies with a powerful laser in space.

The story takes us to an ice castle, where Bond faces his adversary, and soon discovers who he really is.

 

Specifications

  • MGM
  • 1962, 1963, 1965, 1973, 1981, 2002, Color, Rated PG and PG-13 (Die Another Day), 1 Hr 50 min, 1 Hr 51 min, 2 Hr 5 min, 2 Hr 2 min, 2 Hr 8 min, 2 Hr 7 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1, 1.66:1, 2.35:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1, 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC @ 22-29 Mbps
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Ursula Andress, Robert Shaw, Jane Seymore, Halle Berry, Judi Dench
  • Directed by Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, John Glen, Lee Tamahori
    Rating
  • Entertainment (Average)
  • Video (Average)
  • Audio (Average)
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Mild
  • Language: No

Commentary

It is very interesting to watch the progression of the electronic sophistication in the bad guys' secret hideaways, from 1962 to 2002. I used to think Roger Moore played the best Bond, until the latest, with Daniel Craig.

Technical

I am surprised at how good the picture quality is even in the 1962 film. The original camera negative must have been stored away very tightly wrapped. The sound in the early films is mono that has been adapted to 5.1 surround. Of course, the last one, Die Another Day, has a spectacular sound track.

Extras

All six films have lots of extras, with commentaries, historical features, and many other things.