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Movie Collectors Guide #1

The Complete James Bond Collection (Part 3)
 

November 2000

Brian Florian

1987, Color

 

Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1/16x9

Dolby Digital 5.1

 

2 Hr 11 min, Rated PG-13

 

Staring Timothy Dalton, Maryam d'Abo, Jeroen Krabbé, and Joe Don Baker.

 

Directed by John Glen.  Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson.

 

 

   0

5  

Entertainment:

 

Video Quality:

 

Audio:

 

Photography:

 

Violence:

 mild

Sex:

 mild

Language:

 no

 

The Living DaylightsA bogus KGB defector feeds British intelligence a fictitious plot by Russia to kill off western spies.  Bond investigates and discovers plans within plans, including an arms deal that will keep the war between Russia and Afghanistan going for years.

Revamping Bond again proves to be challenging.   Sam Neil was favored by many, but Brocolli wanted Pierce Brosnan for the role.   Brosnan was unable to break away in time from his work on "Remington Steel", so Timothy Dalton was ultimately cast for the role.  He had been considered much earlier, but it was felt at the time he was too young.

In preparation, Dalton read the Fleming novels, wanting to make a return to the classic Bond.  His portrayal of the character is real, gritty, and human, The Living Daylightsomitting the humor of Roger Moore's interpretation.  The more astute viewer will note that 007 has only one female interest and, with all the talk about safe sex in the late 80s, there is no implied sex scene, only passionate embraces.

The Living Daylights"The Living Daylights" presents one of the most complex plots for a Bond picture and is rewarded by the terrific casting of its many characters.   Krabbé, Baker, and Rhys-Davies in particular bring a flavor to their roles which fits like kismet.  In a dramatic departure from previous films, there is hardly any urgency to the story and no one is trying to rule the world.

The Living DaylightsIn its return to the Bond of Fleming's novels, "The Living Daylights" echoes many of the elements from Connery's films.  In particular, Bond's new car, an Aston Martin Volante, rushes in the same sense of excitement as the DB5 did in "Goldfinger".  Action sequences are ambitious, plentiful, and very well done, giving the film a very polished adventure feel.  These include the high-octane pre-titles sequence, the car chase, the cello case sled run, the elaborate battle at the air base, and the high-flying confrontation out the back of a flying Hercules.

The Living DaylightsThe DVD exhibits a very pleasing picture with balanced and natural color throughout.  Blacks are deep, and shadow detail is excellent.   There is a delicious sense of depth, while compression artifacts go unnoticed but edge enhancement is still unfortunately omnipresent.  The 5.1 remix of the theatrical Dolby Stereo mix is also excellent.  The sound space is well integrated, with all speakers being employed to immerse you in the scene.  Directional cues are subtle and effective with, at times, aggressive surrounds and judicious LFE.  Application of THX's Re-Eq may be beneficial on some systems.

Highlights of the exhaustive extras include an audio commentary, an Inside Of feature, a documentary on Ian Fleming, and deleted scenes.

Divider

1989, Color

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1/16x9

Dolby Digital 5.1

 

2 Hr 13 min, Rated PG-13

 

Staring Timothy Dalton, Carey Lowell, Robert Davi, and Talisa Siti.

 

Directed by John Glen.  Written by Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum.

 

 

   0

5  

Entertainment:

 

Video Quality:

 

Audio:

 

Photography:

 

Violence:

 mild

Sex:

 mild

Language:

 no

License to KillAfter an attack on Bond's long time helper Felix Leiter, 007 goes rogue in an effort to exact revenge.  In tracking down known drug lord Franz Sanchez, Bond finds there is a lot more going on than just his own personal vendetta.  By pitting Sanchez against his own henchmen, 007 brings down the operation with a bang and a lengthy truck chase finale.

"License to Kill" may not be measured as one of the most popular Bonds, though today's critics call it the closest Bond to the one depicted in Fleming's novels.  As such, it rewards a revisit now and again as one of the most unique story lines next to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".  Broccoli wanted to do something new, and the idea of Bond going out on his own certainly fit.  007 comes across as more hard edged in this film than any other.  License to KillCut from the comforts of home base, they still manage to write Q into the picture and even have a little fun with him.  While there is a relative de-emphasis on the Bond women, the villain is in fact one of the more memorable ones.  In trying to come up with something relevant to the day, the whole idea of a drug lord was an excellent choice.  With a tight budget, the crew had to abandon their traditional digs in Pinewood studios for location shooting which included Key West and Acapulco.  Other interesting anecdotes include David Hedeson playing Felix for a second time (the only actor to play him more than once), and the warning about the hazards of cigarette smoking in the credits.  This would be both Timothy Dalton and director John Glen's last James Bond film.     

License to KillAlthough it shows some minor nicks and scratches from the print, the DVD's visual quality is on the whole good and sure to please.  Rich color, sharp detail, and deep blacks characterize this transfer with almost nothing in the way of noticeable compression artifacts but the edge enhancement sticks out.  Though released theatrically with a Dolby Stereo SR soundtrack, the DVD features a full 5.1 mix.   This is evidenced by engaging split surround effects, LFE content, and a decidedly dynamic quality.  Although clear and clean in nature, the soundfield dances between an immersive experience, and hard directional cues which on occasion are distracting.  Application of THX's Re-Eq may be beneficial on some systems.

Highlights of the exhaustive extras include commentary tracks, an Inside Of feature, music videos, and still gallery.  

Divider

1995, Color

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16x9

Dolby Digital 5.1

 

2 Hr 10 min, Rated PG-13

 

Staring Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izaballa Scorupco, Famke Janssen, and Joe Don Baker.

 

Directed by Martin Campbell.  Screenplay by Jefferey Caine and Bruce Feirstein.  Story by Michael France.

 

 

   0

5  

Entertainment:

 

Video Quality:

 

Audio:

 

Extras:

 

Violence:

 mild

Sex:

 mild

Language:

 no

GoldeneyeA new military helicopter is stolen and is used to snatch the controls to 'Goldeneye', a secret weapon that wipes out anything with an electrical circuit.  When the isolated control station for Goldeneye is destroyed, Bond must track down and hook up with the only survivor who knows who is responsible.  Bond hits such locations as Russia and Cuba to stop the villains before they use the Goldeneye on London.  007 not only has to tame the luscious Russian femme fatal Xena Onatop, but the head villain turns out to be an ex-00 agent/partner from years gone by.

"Goldeneye" may not be 'the best' Bond, but it is certainly up there.  Coming six years after "License to Kill", it was the longest break ever between films.  GoldeneyeDetails of why this is are sketchy (the Making Of feature on the DVD makes no mention of it), but word of mouth has it that rights and ownerships had slipped around, and the Broccolis would hold out until 007 was back in the hands of United Artists.  For a comeback, it simply had to be spectacular, new, and fresh, but still Bond.  Expectations were high, and many thought that Bond could not keep up with the new world order of the 1990s. Ultimately, what resulted was a blockbuster hit and a welcome addition to the long line of films.   New blends with old The Aston Martin makes an appearance, Q is his good old self, Martini is shaken not stirred, the game with the villain is Baccarat, and so on.  At the same time, we have a new M character, female for the first time, a new Money Penny, and above all, a new Bond.

GoldeneyeBrosnan had been captivated by "Goldfinger" as a boy back in the 60s, and some speculated that he would one day take up the role.   Ultimately, he delivers all the necessary and classic Bond elements while adding a forward, 90s grit to the whole persona.  007 comes across as cavalier, blending the gentleman-spy persona of old, with a modern witticism.  With "Goldeneye", Bond was back . . . big time, accompanied by ever more over-the-top action.  The visual flavor of the film naturally had to keep up with the expectations, and it delivered in spades.  A more modern action style distinguishes this film from previous ones with wild guns fights and so on.  The outrageous opening airplane stunt harkens us back to the memorable ski jump in the opening of "The Spy Who Loved Me".

GoldeneyeThe first 007 film to have a Dolby Digital soundtrack in theatrical release, it follows that it should be a phenomenal one.  The DVD replica of that soundtrack is simply sublime.  Perfectly integrated sound space, aggressive surrounds, and a down right rambunctious LFE track propel Bond sonically into the next generation of cinema sound.  From its first release at the dawn of DVD, the video quality has come to be known as genuinely reference material.  Balanced colors, fine detail, and phenomenal blacks all come together in some rather fine telecine but edge enhancement is still unfortunately present.

This is the first title in the sequence which breaks from the pattern of EXCELLENT extras included in all the previous DVDs.  The behind the scenes piece narrated by Patrick Macnee is sorely missed.  There is an audio commentary track, a Making Of feature with little substance, and the Tina Turner Goldeneye music video. "The World of 007" documentary, hosted by Elizabeth Hurley, is the best piece (though it has almost nothing to do with Goldeneye). 

Divider

1997, Color

 

Aspect Ratio 2.35:1/16x9

Dolby Digital 5.1

 

1 Hr 57 min, Rated PG-13

 

Staring Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher, Joe Don Baker, and Judi Dench.

 

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode.  Written by Bruce Feirstein.

 

 

   0

5  

Entertainment:

 

Video Quality:

 

Audio:

 

Extras:

 

Violence:

 mild

Sex:

 mild

Language:

 no

tmd-01.jpg (45465 bytes)In order to get a good story, media mogul Eliot Carver begins to orchestrate a war between England and China.  After getting reacquainted with Carver's wife, a flame from years ago, 007 gets the low-down on the mogul.  He then connects with Chinese agent Wai Lin, herself in the same case, and the two rush to expose Carver's plan and stop the two countries from destroying each other.  A spectacular 'classic bond' confrontation on Carver's stealth boat rounds out the adventure.

Prior to "Goldeneye" there was much debate over whether Bond films could still be relevant in a post cold war world.  Though popular, "Goldeneye" still featured classic corrupt Russian military personal and their corresponding secret weapons.  It is Tomorrow Never Dies that actually crosses over and gives us a villain, and a cause, that are up to date.  tmd-02.jpg (38024 bytes)It has been suggested that the Carver character was crafted after real media moguls, somehow relating to the events between "License to Kill" and "Goldeneye", but this writer has nothing concrete on the matter.  Regardless, this Bond proved that the 90s still hold a place for 007.

tmd-03.jpg (28622 bytes)The Aston Martin again makes an opening cameo, but the new BMW finally got some road time in what is among the most outrageous of Bond car action sequences, second only to the underwater Lotus.  Michelle Yeoh brings some fantastic flavor to the picture as one of the few Bond girls with such an integral part in the action.  In true Bond fashion, said action is absolutely outrageous.

tmd-04.jpg (31453 bytes)Punchy, aggressive, and integrated describe the superb 6 channel Dolby Digital soundtrack.  Delicate pans and cues artfully submerse you in the action, while judicious, not exigent, LFE reinforcement adds just the right oomph.  The soundtrack is somewhat less memorable than the fresh new sounds in "Goldeneye" but pleases nonetheless.  Visually, the DVD is exemplary.   Characteristics go beyond just good color and nice shadow detail.  This DVD enters the realm of delivering a delicious sense of depth and life to the picture, thought on large screens edge enhancement will be noted.

For extras there are audio commentaries, story boards, "Secrets of 007" feature, and music video.  Again, on these extras, we wish they had kept the formula started in Dr.No and carried through to A View to a Kill.

Divider

1999, Color

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16x9

Dolby Digital 5.1 EX

 

2 Hr 8 min, Rated PG-13

 

Staring Pierce Brosnan, Sophie Marceau, Robert Carlyle, and Denise Richards.

 

Directed by Michael Apted.  Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Bruce Feirstein.

 

 

   0

5  

Entertainment:

 

Video Quality:

 

Audio:

 

Extras:

 

Violence:

 mild

Sex:

 mild

Language:

 no

The World is Not EnoughThe adventure begins with Bond investigating the murder of an oil pipeline tycoon.  When the suspicion is that the daughter of the tycoon, Elektra King, will be next, 007 discovers there is more to the heiress than is apparent.  She's teamed up with the terrorist Renard, and now plots a nuclear detonation that will secure her inherited pipe-line's future.  Bond and nuclear scientist Christmas Jones must stop the evil duo before they can get away with their plan.

"The World is Not Enough" (TWINE) is a delicious Fleming phrase borrowed from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".   There, it is presented as part of Bonds family crest, and in this film causes one to reflect on the heritage.  The World is Not EnoughSome fans feel the film would have done well to borrow more than just the iconic idiosyncrasies of the past, as TWINE is such a departure that it is not as favored as the more staple Bond pictures.  With a director whose work includes more emotionally fueled movies, TWINE delivers a corresponding 007 who is more about people and less about action.  Even M is out of the office, vulnerable, and actually does a little gadget hot wiring to help save the day.  The story is more intricate, and the makers try to do something interesting with the relation Bond has to the vileness.

The World is Not EnoughThat's not to say the film is without action.  In this installment, it is high tech and calls to mind the antics of "Moonraker".  The opening boat chase, as well as the later ski sequence, are both outrageous (as it should be in a Bond film), and the scene with the helicopter cutting machines has to be seen to be believed (incidentally, it is a segment that was intended for "Goldeneye" but did not make it in).  While Sophie Marceau makes a welcome entrance into the long line of Bond vileness, Denise Richards, or at least her character, is a disappointment.  Bond women have always been provocative, but not without their intelligent demeanor.

Hats off to Desmond Llewelyn in his final appearance as Q, as he had been with Bond since "From Russia With Love", and passed away recently.  It is up to newcomer John Cleese to carry the torch.

The World is Not EnoughThe Dolby Digital replica of its theatrical EX counterpart is absolutely delicious.  Besting the previous two digital soundtracks, TWINE offers something genuinely special in soundtrack art.  The fidelity is unusually high, and thus (hardware permitting), one can enjoy the reference level playback without any discomfort.  All speakers are employed as the soundtrack pro-actively creates the sound spaces with uncanny believability.  This DVD is genuinely reference material.  The video quality is in the same class as the soundtrack: blacks are rich and deep with shadow detail that is remarkable.  A nice film-like quality characterizes the visual presentation though there is some amount of edge enhancement.

"The World Is Not Enough" is not sold in any of the three gift sets, but there is a 'placeholder' for it in Volume 2.

For extras there are audio commentaries, a weak Making Of feature, alternate video option, and the music video.

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Extra

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