|James Bond Ultimate Edition - Vol. 2 (A View to a Kill / Thunderball / Die Another Day / The Spy Who Loved Me / Licence to Kill)
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Studio: Tcfhe/mgm Release Date: 05/13/2008
- Zowie - these DVDs blow me away!
I received advance copies of the Region 1 release and just had to gush about these incredible DVDs.
In October of 1999 the first wave of James Bond 007 Special Editions was released. It was in fact the second time that the series had seen a release on those shiny silver discs having first appeared in the much-maligned "snapper" cases two years earlier. But these special feature laden releases were immediately hailed as setting a new benchmark for back catalog releases of movies on DVD.
Times however have since changed. And the single disc editions that appeared in a set of three waves in 1999 and 2000 now look, at best merely serviceable and at worst wholly inadequate when compared to the bumper releases that have been afforded to the likes of other favorites from the last 40-plus years.
So on Tuesday Fox will release the first two of four volumes that are touted as the Ultimate Edition's of all 20 of the movies in the storied franchise. The collection of special features this time around are a virtual embarrassment of riches and each movie has been remastered by the team that oversaw the work on the original Star Wars trilogy - Lowry Digital. The result is so impressive that movies the likes of 1964's "Goldfinger" now look they were made last year instead of over 42 years ago.
John Lowry, who started his career with NASA, spent two and a half years restoring the picture and sound quality on all 20 Bond films, which in total consisted of 42 miles of film. According to information released by the studio the combination of automated computer processing and digital retouching led to the removal of 25 million pieces of dirt and 74,000 "hairs in the gate" in addition to restoring more than 30,000 frames of scratched or torn images.
The difference is most evident in the older movies and when I watched "The Spy Who Loved Me" (for example) I seriously felt like I was watching a new movie - particularly during the demise of the Liparus super tanker.
There has also been an improvement in the audio department has a brand new 5.1 DTS mix.
The special features will impress even the most ardent and knowledgeable James Bond fan. Take for example the DVD for the 1985 adventure "A View to a Kill." In the 2000 release fans were amazed to see the inclusion of a hitherto unknown deleted scene set in a Paris Police Station. In the release Tuesday the Paris scene is still there, but several more deleted scenes join it. These ranges from the scene where fishermen (along with Bond) demonstrate outside of the main villains San Francisco operations to a more minor scene that shows said villain and his henchman and henchwoman carrying cans of gasoline into City Hall. Director John Glen who explains why they were eventually cut from the movie introduces each.
This all-inclusive approach to special features pervades these releases with everything from the inclusion of archival reports from the set for British television to a home movie from the Egyptian set of "The Spy Who Loved Me."
Of course the real jewel in the crown of the releases are the newly recorded audio commentaries by James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore for his seven movies. Last year Moore recorded the commentaries over a period of five days starting with the last of his movies (A View to a Kill) and working backwards. He prefaces each of his commentaries by claiming not to remember much about the production history of the movies and urges the listener to merely approach them as a one-way conversation. However, despite his claim Moore does seem to recollect quite a bit about the movies and his light breezy tone and dry wit make the commentaries a real draw. He does have a habit of getting sidetracked on occasion and discusses other projects other than James Bond, but each of the commentaries is well worth a listen.
My particular favorite commentary in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 is the one that accompanies "A View to a Kill." For many years fans questionned where Maud Adams' cameo was in this movie (she had famously visited the set during the San Franciso shoot), with not even Maud Adams knowing where she was. Well, there's a big clue to where she appears when Roger Moore remarks that the man walking out of shot is Maud Adams boyfriend. Watch the couple in the background shortly after this remark on the commentary.
The only real quibble I have is regarding the "007 Mission Control" section of the DVDs. These are merely a collection of clips from the movie and as such seems a tremendous waste of valuable disc space. For example say you click on "Girls" from the Mission Control main menu. A menu appears listing the girls in that particular movie and if you click on their name you are provided with a menu listing a series of clips including that character. Not only is this highly redundant for those who have watched the movie (which one would presume people who own the DVD have done) but its also very selective. Take for example the character of Anya Amasova in "The Spy Who Loved Me." The first clip offered is her meeting with James Bond at the Kalba club. Surely the first should have been her famous introduction (where audiences expentations are turned on their head) and the scene where she learns of her lovers death.
Another minor gripe is the treatment of "Die Another Day" in this set. Whereas all the previous content from the other movies Special Editions are included in these Ultimate releases, the same cannot be said for the "Die Another Day" discs. Released already as a 2-disc set on its initial DVD release in 2003, this edition seems to have dropped the extensive documentary on the making of the movie. I was not a big fan of said documentary as I found it to be largely fluff, but its strange that it was not included here, especially since they probably used up space that could have accomodated it with the afore-mentioned "Mission Control" section. There are some interesting tidbits on the "Die Another Day" discs including the "From Script to Screen" doco (that had appeared previously only in Region 2) and a fascinating coverage of the parachite jump over Buckingham Palace, but the omission of the lengthy "Making of..." documantary from the previous release is puzzling.
The movies are in slim cases. The big fear among Bond fans when images of the cover packages were released was that it would be a gatefold design. The slim cases are 2-disc sets with disc 1 facing disc 2.
For those fans and collectors who like to place the DVDs in chronological order when displaying them on the shelf, there is a solution. The inner casingo for the DVDs are in the familiar shape common to storing magazines. This allows the collector to place this casing back in the box backwards so that the spines of the DVDs (with their titles on them) are facing out.
Recommended for everyone from the casual viewer to the most fervent Bond fan....more info
- Great DVDs, not-so-great packaging
The DVDs themselves are great, as are all Bond movies. The Bond volumes each contain 10 DVDs (2 discs per movie for film and special features and 5 movies per set) and 5 little booklets about each movie. These booklets tell you about the general filming/production experiences. They are fun reads. However, the cases in which each DVD is packaged are not that high of quality. So far, I have volumes 1 and 2, and the cases for 2 of the 10 movies have broken little pegs that hold the DVD in place.
The pegs that hold the DVD in place seem to be slightly too big. The DVD does not come out easily, so you have to really push on the pegs or really pull on the DVD, both of which can break the pegs.
But don't let that stop you from purchsing the sets because they truly are great box sets....more info
- Mandatory For the Bond Completeist
Though I enjoyed a few James Bond films when I was younger, I did not get around to tackling the entire series until recently. Having thoroughly enjoyed the films in the James Bond Ultimate Edition Volume 1, I recently viewed the films contained in the second volume over the course of a week. As with the first box set I found I like them all, but to varying degrees.
I'm not going to natter on about the technical marvels and all the extras which make this edition the one to own, others have done that. I'll just rank the films from first to "worst" and tell you why.
1)Licence To Kill-Some other reviewers have not liked this much. I do. To my surprise, I have really enjoyed Timothy Dalton as 007. He has a rough edge about him that I find more appealing in a character who is supposed to be an intelligence agent than the overly suave urbanity of Roger Moore.
The riveting action, the ingenious gadgetry, the exotic locales, the beautiful women, and the superb portayal of arch villain Franz Sanchez by actor Robert Davi make this very memorable entertainment indeed.
2)A View To A Kill-Many reviewers lightly pan this as well. I like it however. Remember, the Bond films have long since passed the point where the storyline is remotely plausible. Its pure entertainment! Roger Moore is getting a little doddery, but he still plays his 007 role with elan. Christopher Walken is excellent once more in the part of a villain, this time as megalomaniacal industrialist Max Zorin. Grace Jones excels as Zorin's wicked sidekick; her spectacular exit from the Eiffel Tower is truly a scene to remember.
3)The Spy Who Loved Me-It was hard to pick this for third place in the set because in many ways its truly a remarkable film. First of all, there is the spectacular ski jump at the start of the film...whew! That must have been a heart-stopper for the guy who did it. Then there are all the scenes where it seems that Bond had met his match in the virtually indestuctible character of Jaws and finally the undersea action sequences that put an end to shipping tycoon Karl Stromberg's dreams of a world controlled by him. Roger Moore is at his best here as James Bond and Barbara Bach is excellent as his KGB counterpart/ally in battling Stromberg who threatens both their nations.
4)Thunderball-As one of the most famous of the James Bond movies you might wonder why I put this in fourth place. Simply because they can't all be in first. There is only a very tiny difference in the excitement generated when viewing Licence To Kill as opposed to that which I felt watching Thunderball. When this was first released, the Bond franchise was new, glamorous and exciting. Now Thunderball is just one among many. The most memorable scenes here are the underwater action sequences and of course any scenes featuring the lovely Claudine Auger. For some, however, the biggest draw will always be the iconic Sean Connery as James Bond.
5)Die Another Day-There are many things to like about this film. The villains are from countries that were ( and still are) the chief US enemies at the time this is filmed: North Korea and Cuba. Rick Yunes as Zao is splendid as 007's particularly resourceful and ruthless North Korean adversary who puts his own country in danger of nuclear annihilation in pursuit of personal gain. But he thinks that he has his country covered on that score and that his carefully laid plans will set in motion a juggernaut of events that will overwhelm US and South Korean forces on the DMZ. He almost succeeds but of course you know that Bond will win out in the end.
In addition to Yunes' fine performance, Pierce Brosnan is very good here as Bond and Halle Berry excellent as his tough sidekick/love interest. Scenery as always is breathtaking and the gadgetry as usual beyond credibility. Check out the Castro double in one of the Cuban scenes. Its all in good fun as its meant to be.
As with the James Bond Ultimate Edition Volume 1, each of these films is accompanied by a bonus disc loaded with extras making this set a mandatory purchase for the James Bond completeist. I haven't viewed the extras yet, but just the quality of the digital restoration alone gives the buyer value for money.
When speaking of serious art, few would ever mention a Bond film as one of the greatest ever made. But when one speaks of imagination, innovation and sheer bang for the entertainment dollar, there is no doubt that James Bond films offer some of the best entertainment around. I'm sold on them and will return soon with a review of set number three.
- james bond vol 2
Received it timely. Hsven't watched it yet since it's an xmas gift to household member. Box was shrinked wrap and hope quality it just as good....more info
- Happy Valentines Day
License to Kill came with scratches on it, but I didnt open it for too long after I received it, so I am not worried. I havent tried watching it but I cant imagine it wont work. My boyfriend loves these sets. I just bought volume 3 and plan to get the 4th next month. ...more info
- Picked up whole collection in one pack - great deal
Great deal for the hard code Bond fan...more info
- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Strikes Again!!!
ONE: Put these films in chronological production order, then I'll show you my money. Or TWO: Give me the chance to purchase them individually. I'm giving two good options. I'm being given only a poor one. ...more info
- License to Kill (a Whole Lot of Time)
This is probably the weakest volume in these new James Bond Ultimate Collections...but I think I'll get them all anyway. I've never had all the Bond films before and this certainly looks like a collection jammed with enough extras to make them worthwhile.
The only great movie in this volume is THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, Roger Moore's personal favorite of his Bond films (when asked which one was his least favorite, he famously said, "The other six").
Connery said he had the most fun making THUNDERBALL but after the first three films, it felt overlong and the underwater scenes slowed everything down.
LICENSE TO KILL works as a good revenge story but I think the reason Timothy Dalton never really clicked for me as 007 was his choice to play the character with no sense of humor. I liked his serious take otherwise, and LICENSE definitely needs angrier Bond, but Bond has to have his sense of humor to really work.
I thought DIE ANOTHER DAY relied too much on CGI effects and A VIEW TO A KILL was Moore's weakest entry.
But I think I'll get them all this time around. There appears to be an incredible amount of material to keep me busy for a very long time!...more info
- $25.00 Each!..Wow what a steal!
I was shocked to see that these Ultimate Edition box sets are now only $25.00 each. The extras alone are worth that price.
You can have the whole James Bond collection on DVD for a mere $100.00.
Minus of course the Daniel Craig ones.
Thank you Blue Ray for making this so affordable.
If you have an LCD HD TV of at least 50 inches or large and a 7.1 sorround sound system, you really do not need Blue Ray.
I mean how often are you watching these anyway.
My picture is amazing and the sound is incredible.
To finally watch anamorphically each Bond is a dream come true!
Edited on 02-12-09: What happened? When did the pricee jump back to $40.00 each set? Amazon always tells you when the price drops, but now that the price has mysteriously risen back to what it was before, I'm a bit upset! It's almost as bad as the jump/flip in "The Man With The Golden Gun"....more info
- Second of the Dazzling Remastered Bonds is Fabulous Fun!
"James Bond Ultimate Edition - Vol. 2", the second volume of the frame-by-frame restorations of the 007 Library, offers an eclectic collection of titles (with 3 actors' final appearances as Bond), and a quality of picture and sound that WILL take your breath away!
"A View to a Kill" (1985), Roger Moore's swansong as 007, is, sadly, the worst of his seven Bonds. Looking far too old for the role, he battles youthful villain Christopher Walken, beds Amazonian henchwoman Grace Jones (which should have, by itself, killed him!), and winds up with staggeringly inept Tanya Roberts...While it's a joy to see Moore work with lifelong friend Patrick Macnee, the Silicon Valley plot is dumb, the action sequences, silly, and you'll wish Roger had retired after "For Your Eyes Only". (1 1/2 stars out of 5)
"Thunderball" (1965), the BIG Bond hit from the peak of the 007 craze, has so MUCH spectacle that it nearly sinks the story! SPECTRE crashes a NATO bomber, using the nuclear weapons to blackmail the world, and it's up to 007 Sean Connery to save the day! Sexy women (Claudine Auger and Luciana Paluzzi), a sneering villain (Adolfo Celi), and glorious Bahamas locations are highlights; the climactic underwater battle does, however, become boring, and the film seems overlong...but Connery is magnificent! (4 1/2 stars out of 5)
"Die Another Day" (2002), Pierce Brosnan's final 007, begins spectacularly (with Bond captured and tortured by the North Koreans), then collapses into silliness (an invisible Aston-Martin???). Much was made of Halle Berry as 007's CIA counterpart, Jinx, but she looks far better than she acts. The weapon is simply a rehash of the "Diamonds Are Forever" laser satellite, and even a terrific, near-superhuman henchman (Rick Yune), can't save this mundane tale. Brosnan deserved a better send-off! (2 stars out of 5)
"The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977), Roger Moore's third 007 outing, is a bona fide Bond classic, reworking the character and plot line into more of a 'Connery' mode. Working with sexy Soviet counterpart Barbara Bach against a fish-like megalomaniac (Curt Jurgens), the film is best-remembered for 7'2" Jaws (Richard Kiel), the best villainous henchman of the entire series. Whether in Egypt, on a train, or in the ocean, Jaws gives 007 Moore all he can handle! (5 stars out of 5)
"Licence to Kill" (1989), Timothy Dalton's second (and last) appearance as 007, is considered a 'lesser' Bond, which is unfair. If you enjoyed Daniel Craig's portrayal as Bond, give this a try, as Dalton goes 'renegade' to take out the drug dealer (Robert Davi) who mutilated best friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison), and murdered Leiter's wife. Hard-edged and gritty, with little of the 007 campiness, featuring future stars Benicio Del Toro and Carey Lowell, this is a Bond far closer to Ian Fleming's vision. Though a box-office failure, it is truly a gem! (4 stars out of 5)
Another 'must' collection for every Bond fan! ...more info
- Great James Bond Collection
the product was ship quickly and in Great Working condition. this set comes with Thunderball,The spy Who love me, a view to a kill,Licence to kill, and Die Another day. It was greatly digital remasterd and the disc are in great working condition. ...more info
- James Bond
This is the best set ever! A View To A Kill is my favorite Bond Movie!!!...more info
- The Blue Set
James Bond Ultimate Edition - Vol. 2 (A View to a Kill / Thunderball / Die Another Day / The Spy Who Loved Me / Licence to Kill). As a whole, the collection is wonderful mostly because of the bonus features. You get behind the scenes, interviews, tributes to various Bond family, documentaries, audio commentary from directors, cast and sometimes Bond (Roger Moore), music videos and much more!!
As wonderful as this collection is, it's a mixed bag because of the quality of some of these films. The best film of this collection is Thunderball (which is Sean's last best Bond effort). The Spy Who Loved Me is Roger Moore's second or third best Bond outing and is one of the best in the whole series. Licence To Kill is good, but wasn't as successful at the box office. A View to a Kill is gross to look at because Roger looks OLD in this film and is either the worst or second worst Bond film. Die Another Day is awful to the core.
Get this volume to complete your collection, but I think this is the collection you will collect but not view....more info
- These Ultimate Collections deserve Ultimate Respect...
Hi all you Bond fans!...
I don't understand what all the big disappointment is with the order of the films in these sets!!! Sure, it'd be nice if everything was in chronological order, but who are we to decide that?
The amount of hard work that went into the making of these sets, and the quality of the sets themselves, are nothing to disregard! I don't understand how anybody could put chronological order over the quality of something itself... If you really wanted what was in these sets, then how can you argue over the order of the DVD's in them???
To me, the makers did a fantastic job of ordering them, because then the not-so-popular movies get somewhere to live too! How would you feel if you had to release sets in an order that not so many people would buy a certain volume of, just because less people liked what was in it? You have to respect the makers' wishes, and go for it.
I, myself, am profoundly interested in these sets, and to me... they are a MUST to have! I can see how people who have already bought the previous DVD sets would be upset, but I think these sets justify re-buying them 100%. (Too bad these North American releases aren't in the attache case, though!)
As another reviewer (Eric D. Zdrojewski "Lockport Eric") said, you can sell your other DVD sets (if you wanted to), and you'd have a decent amount to go for these sets.
... and as another reviewer on here (The JuRK) said... I'm definitely getting these for Christmas this year too!!! :-D
- James Bond, Vol 2
Excellent DVDs and background notes. A fun collection for Bond fans of any age....more info
- JAMES BOND VOL II
IT WAS EXACTLY AS I EXPECTED. VERY HAPPY WITH MY PURCHASE.
I WILL CONTINUE TO SHOP ON AMAZON...more info
- The Ultimate Sets are the way to go! Dump the Special Editions when you can!
After waiting for a very long time to acquire the Bond Ultimate Edition sets at a reasonable price, I finally ditched my Special Editions in favor of the new ones. I, perhaps like many others, was always reluctant to give up my Special Editions because frankly I spent a lot of time and money putting the original, Special Edition set together.
After watching the Special Edition and Ultimate Edition of "Dr.No", I finally realized how "ultimate" the new discs are. Gone are the film scratches, imperfections and faded colors that plagued most of the Bond early films such as the Connery & some of the Moore films. The new Dolby & DTS 5.1 surround sound are fantastic! The 1962 "Dr. No" looks like it was filmed yesterday. The special features on "Dr. No" includes a segment on the outstanding work put into the frame by frame restoration. A truly tremendous effort and much appreciated!
I like the slim-line cases for the new sets. My entire Bond collection now only takes up less than half the space on my shelves than it did before. Although I tend to agree with other reviewers that it's kind of cheesy how the booklets for each film are stored in the box and not the individual cases, the overall quality of the DVD's negate any negatives. I spend more time watching the films than browsing the booklets. Forget buying any of the Ultimate Editions individually which are single discs because the DVD's in the Ultimate Edition box sets are double-disc sets. One disc for the feature film for optimized quality and one disc for the special features.
I'm not bothered in the fact that all films in all four volumes are not packaged chronologically, since I went through the same process when I purchased the Special Edition box sets. I understand the studio's logic for "mixing it up", since a chronological DVD order would mean more popular sales for the Connery sets and lower sales for the Moore/Dalton sets. I'm a fan of all the Bond films as I appreciate all of the different actors from Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Bronson to Craig and for what each one of them has contributed to the Bond Legacy. Many thanks to Daniel Craig for resurrecting this franchise with his outstanding debut in "Casino Royale". Looking forward to "Quantum of Solace" later this year.
VOLUME 2; Well this is my least, favorite set because it contains my least favorite Bond film "A View to a Kill" (somehow, I can still hear Tanya Roberts yelling "Oh James, help me!"), but the Duran Duran tile song is great (very nice music video in the special features disc). However, to even the score for Moore the set contains one of Moore's best film "the Spy Who Loved Me" with Bond's most popular henchman, Jaws played by Richard Keil. The Lotus car/submarine scene was kind of neat too! "Thunderball" is a solid hit for Connery. Bronson's last film "Die Another Day" has many Bond iconic moments playing homage to previous bond films such as Halle Berry's white bikini homage to Ursula Andress. Somehow I never get tired of that scene! The set rounds out with Dalton's last effort "Licence to Kill". ...more info
- James Bond Ultimate Collection Vol # 2
Just bought the James Bond Ultimate Collection Volume 2. got the best price and it shipped out quickly....more info
- Bond, James Bond
Excellent collection but the extras are very cool. If you like the 60's and 70's with all their Bond mania, this collection will provide some excellent films and some revealing extras. ...more info
- A must have for me...
I already own all of the 'Special edition' DVDs, however, after reading what they done with the movies - scans of the original film (not copies) with 4000 lines (digitizing) per picture and remixes of the original sound tracks to DTS - I decided to buy them all, well yes, again.
I am OK with a small waiting time and no chronological order - for what reason ever the Studio released them this way. The special edition was also not in chronological order and the only thing which counts for me is that I have all of them and that in a never before seen and heard quality. You can buy them as single ultimate editions in Europe but much more expensive than here - browse Amazon UK and you will see. For me there is no choice and I already ordered/bought all of them. ...more info
- 007 Digital
I tried to rent "A View to A Kill" because Patrick McNee (John Steed, Avengers) was in it along with Sir Roger Moore,(who by my estimation is every bit as great as Connery or Brosnon, etc.), and ended up buying this set which replaced some of my old VHS tapes...Each actor brings something unique to the role of Bond and if you have read Ian Flemings' books, Bond was definitely a product of his time--1950s-1960s. Great vintage Bond with Moore, Connery, Brosnon, and sorry I forgot his name...this digital remastered set is crisp...a good investment for all 007 lovers....more info
I purchased the whole collection of James Bond DVD's for my boyfriend for Christmas and it was a huge hit. He loves them! The DVD's have all of the Bond's on them but are not in order of how they came out, that is my only complaint with them, but he likes the way they are organized so I guess it's okay....more info
- The overkill collection
'Here comes the biggest Bond of them all!' screamed the ads for Thunderball. But while this is still the high water mark of the series at the box-office - selling more tickets than any other Bond, inflation-adjusted to today's prices its box-office take would exceed a billion dollars - it's also pretty much the clunkiest Bond in its determination to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the mix.
Opening with an excellently choreographed but very badly over-edited fight sequence, the formula is fully established here: the megalomaniacal villain, the ruthless disposal of underlings, perverted villain ("Vargas does not drink, does not smoke, does not make love. What do you do, Vargas?"), the obligatory three women for Bond to dally with and the archetypal Maurice Binder title sequence replacing Robert Brownjohn's earlier efforts (here an underwater ballet of men with harpoons pursuing silhouetted naked girls). It does tend to drag in places, but is still markedly superior to the majority of Roger Moore's efforts.
Much has been made over the years of the film's convoluted legal history. Fleming's novel was an unauthorised adaptation of a screenplay he co-wrote with Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham in an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to launch the series. After much wrangling, McClory was awarded the screen rights and formed an uneasy alliance with Broccoli and Saltzman to co-produce the film, a move that was have legal consequences beyond remake Never Say Never Again and lead to decades of law suits.
The new cook in the broth leads to a rather more schoolboyish Bond, but the film does take a few enjoyable swipes at him, such as Lucianna Paluzzi's villainess taunting his sexual arrogance - "I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, the one where he has to make love to a woman, and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, and turns to the side of right and virtue..." The saddest sight is Earl Cameron, the black actor who distinguished such 50's British films as Sapphire and Flame in the Streets reduced to the role of messenger boy, though at least he fares better than Quarrel in Dr No. If the role of Felix Leiter was intended to paper over gaps in the narrative, Cameron's Pinder is there only to drop Bond off at the next setpiece.
Although it appears there is no definitive version of the film - there are various cuts in circulation because of the rush to get the film ready for its premiere, while the `James Bond will return in On Her Majesty's Secret Service' caption seems lost forever - this is as close to it as we're likely to see, though a featurette does handily point out the differences between various versions. Handily one of the audio commentaries also offers the chance to hear the original Dionne Warwick title song Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, possibly the best song ever written for a Bond film ("He's smooth and he's sharp/And like a shark he looks for trouble/That's why the zero's double/Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") only to get ditched for the Tom Jones song built around the title for promotional reasons. There's also a 48-minute TV special The Incredible World of James Bond, a radio spot advertising a beauty contest to find girls for OHMSS (planned as the next Bond film), production designer Ken Adams' home movie footage, the famous documentary A Child's Guide to Blowing Up a Motor Car and more besides on a well-packed two-disc set.
The Spy Who Loved Me holds up, along with You Only Live Twice, as the best of the special effects show Bond movies (like Lewis Gilbert's other Bond, the dire Moonraker, it more or less shares the same plot and even identical camera set-ups in places). Planned to turn the Bonds back into blockbusters after the somewhat more down to Earth Harry Saltzman left the series, Cubby Broccoli plays safe with a virtual `greatest hits' compilation album of all your favorite Bond setpieces (the train fight from From Russia With Love, a gadget-filled car a la Goldfinger, a ski chase a la OHMSS, etc), but its put together with skill, panache and a sense of the epic that carries you along. Moore's Bond still has a bit of steel in him and the script is so good you find yourself wondering if it really is the same Christopher Wood responsible for the British soft-porn Confessions series credited as co-writer.
As with others in the series, this repackaged upgrade to 2-disc `Ultimate Edition' from the original single disc issue at times feels more cosmetic than actual in terms of extras (as usual, there are plenty of other potential supplements, such as Movietone newsreel footage of the shoot, that have not been included), although alongside brief archive footage of the massive purpose-built 007 Stage being dedicated, a vintage Roger Moore and a 1977 promo featurette covering the shoot in Egypt there are production designer Ken Adams' home movies of the shoot and a storyboard sequence. But, alongside Moore's new commentary, perhaps the most enjoyable extras are the TV spots and the teaser trailer introduced by Moore in character carried over from the previous issue.
Roger Moore and Lois Maxwell's last Bond film, A View to a Kill, was the commercial lowpoint of Moore's Bond tenure (only Licence To Kill would sell fewer tickets), but it's not the worst of his films even if it is probably the dullest. Almost entirely gadget-free, there's a pleasing return to a self-reliant Bond - trapped in a sunken car, in an oil pipeline or in a burning lift, he uses his wits and what is immediately to hand to extricate himself, which at least puts him, not the toys, firmly at the centre of the action. Although, like so much of the film, a bit on the lacklustre side, the horse-doping subplot is also a nice change of pace that feels more like genuine Fleming than EON, and Patrick MacNee makes a good foil for Moore as one of Bond's many ill-fated sidekicks.
Unfortunately some of the action scenes seem to lose energy rather than gain momentum, the Parisian car chase in particular despite some impressive stuntwork from Remy Julienne, while others - especially the firetruck chase - suffer from lousy back-projection even by Bond film standards. The opening pre-title sequence is nearly very good but shoots itself in the foot with dull scoring, a horrible overlong jokey burst of the Beach Boys on the soundtrack and a terrible joke submarine feeling like an unwelcome sharp elbow in the ribs from a very loud and very unfunny warmup comedian who keeps on asking you if you got the joke because you haven't laughed. It's not the film's only cringeworthy moment - as if Bond making quiche for Tanya Roberts wasn't bad enough (forget Denise Richards, Roberts has to be the worst Bond girl ever), the poor old boy is practically raped by Grace Jones!
Then there are the villains. Christopher Walken, a man who can turn battle-hardened Marines to quivering masses of jelly just by looking in their general direction, makes a surprisingly weak and unmenacing psychopathic mastermind (whodda thunk it?) and his Nazi war criminal mentor who looks like a cross between British astronomer Patrick Moore and eccentric Tory MP Boris Johnson cuts a particularly laughable figure fighting with a past-his-prime but still game Roger Moore on the Golden Gate Bridge. That the villain's big scheme is a melting pot rehash of Superman's engineered earthquake, Gold's mine flood and Goldfinger's monopolising the market scam doesn't help the feeling of the series just going through the motions, and while John Glen's direction shows some improvement, he's still horribly lazy with any scene that doesn't take his fancy. Throughout there's a feeling that this is a film that's been made by too many people who've just been doing the job too long and are starting to think about the size of their pension funds: it seems to have been made more out of habit than genuine desire. In many ways the worst that can be said of it is that it's rather dull, while the best that can be said is that there are worse Bond films.
The gem among the new extras on this repackaged two-disc Ultimate Edition is Roger Moore's audio commentary - just as well, since there's not a huge amount of additional material otherwise: 4 additional deleted scenes, expanded multi-angle scenes, some outtakes of the firetruck chase and test footage of the butterfly act, with all the extras from the original release carried over.
Although Moonraker is the popular fan favorite for worst Bond movie, Licence To Kill runs it a close second for some. Whereas the Moore films had a fairly gradual lowering of standards, the superiority of The Living Daylights made the drop in quality of LTK seem that much more dramatic. The lowest-grossing movie in the series' history, it's a classic case of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. "This time Bond bleeds," claimed the producers, promising a tougher, more credible Bond film only to lack the nerve to deliver on their promise. Instead they wimped out and delivered something distinctly half-hearted that adheres to many of the weakest elements of the Bond formula but which throws out much of what makes Bond himself Bond in a disastrously counterproductive attempt to widen the series' appeal in the US market. Change the main character's name and you'd never know it was a Bond film - the character has been pared down and simplified to such an extent that there's little relation either to the previous films or even Fleming's novels (despite using aspects of Fleming's Live and Let Die). Casino Royale got around having Bond as a blunt instrument by showing the character develop, but in LTK he's just a standard issue guy they pushed too far. The result is a standard issue OTT 80s action movie that owes more to Commando and Elmore Leonard's 52 Pickup and The Tall T and which feels like Lethal Weapon 2 had it been remade with Roger Moore.
It has some novelty value as the only film where Bond isn't a secret agent, though turning him into just another vigilante is a big part of the problem. This time Bond goes against his superiors, his licence to kill revoked, to extract bloody revenge on the drug lord who fed Felix Leiter's legs to a shark and killed the CIA man's wife. But where The Living Daylights made the most of its narrative economy, here script, editing, scoring and direction all combine to provide a lack of momentum - poorly paced, this feels a good half hour too long. Frustratingly there is the occasional germ of a good idea, such as Bond blundering into and compromising wider issues with his vendetta, but they are never pursued. Rather than explore the increasingly fine line between good or evil or the psychosis that Bond's quest should hint at, it simply spends most of its running time coming up with unimaginative ways to kill the bad guys. This Bond makes no demands on his audience.
Almost nothing in the picture works on any terms. It's certainly in no way the gritty, realistic or down to Earth movie its supporters frequently claim. Wayne Newton playing a comic religious cult leader, Bond and Felix Leiter parachuting into a wedding in full morning suit attire (in a remarkably clumsily sped-up shot) after a midair hijack of a plane, Uncle Q coming along for comic relief on what's supposed to be a grim revenge mission, inept comedy ninjas, the obligatory villain's giant lair being blown up and an exploding head almost as ridiculous as the inflatable Yaphet Kotto in Live and Let Die are hardly the stuff of The French Connection, and nor is the surprisingly weak villain (the curse of the Dalton films). Sanchez may work on paper, but onscreen he's a damp squib, which is surprising as Robert Davi has repeatedly shown - as had Jeroen Krabbe before him - that outside Bond he could deliver real menace. There's certainly a potentially more interesting character there than the script allows Davi to show. The Bond girls are pretty atrociously written too: to see Talisa Soto's "I love him so much" moment is to know pain. Even Dalton, so impressive in The Living Daylights, is a lot less impressive second time round despite his best efforts.
Worse, it doesn't work as either a Bond film or as a standalone action movie: like too many of the weaker Bond films, if it weren't for the Bond brand and the loyalty the series has it probably would have sunk into obscurity long ago taken purely on its own merits as a film. In some ways it's a bold attempt to shake up the franchise, but that's the saddest thing about it. About the only two scenes that do work are when Bond throws a suitcase filled with a blood money at a heavy balanced on the edge of a shark tank (hardly a giant leap from [I] "Where's Fekkish?", "You've had your six" or Moore kicking a car containing a killer off a cliff in previous entries) or the factory scene where he's trying to disguise himself from Benicio Del Toro. Elsewhere it's certainly no harsher nor more serious than previous efforts: even Felix doesn't seem that bothered over his wife's rape and murder and is able to laugh it off by the end of the film.
There are also a lot of plot holes and absurdities: just why does Bond attack the MI5 agents after his licence to kill is revoked and why does M suddenly have his minions shooting at his most valuable agent? Why exactly are inept suicidal Japanese ninjas working for the HONG KONG Narcotics Agency? Why, in a moment that could have come out of a Leslie Nielson film, does one tiny fire in an enclosed laboratory within seconds become an impossible-to-extinguish raging inferno that causes a massive complex to blow up? Well, because someone thought they'd make for cool scenes is about the only explanation.
It's possible this could have been made to work with a more assured sense of tone, but the larky mood, cheap gags and poor execution do it no favors. Maybe a John McTiernan could have done something with the material even with such a weak script and no chance of proper rewrites due to the writers' strike, but John Glen just flattens it all with his lazy direction. It's professionally made but it fatally lacks the courage to go all the way in the way that Casino Royale did. LTK is like a nervous bather, constantly dipping one toe in the water only to almost immediately draw back to its imagined comfort zone. Even Moonraker, bad as it was, knew exactly what kind of film it was and stayed true to itself. Alone among the Bond films, LTK is the one people constantly have to make excuses for.
New extras for the two-disc Ultimate Edition are fairly thin - 9 deleted scenes, one of Bond unpacking in a hotel room while watching TV coverage of Sanchez arriving at a charity gala good enough to have stayed in the film - location scouting footage, archive interviews with John Glen and interview footage from 1989, with the extras from the original release carried over.
Die Another Day was surprisingly impressive first time round but doesn't hold up well to a second viewing for a number of reasons. The pre-title sequence is particularly strong, and the film is plot-led with a good premise that it explores far more effectively than License to Kill - Bond screws up, gets captured and finds his license to kill revoked and has to go it alone. But to many wrong choices are made in the casting of those both in front of and behind the cameras to do it full justice.
Brosnan is certainly a major problem here, getting lazier in the role far sooner than his predecessors. He takes too much for granted and doesn't seem to be putting much effort into it in the assumption that he's got it down pat, when in reality he's starting to go to seed - certainly he must be the only man to come out of 14 months of torture in a Korean prison chubbier than when he went in, something his tendency to spend much of the opening of the film with his shirt off and hidden under a bushy Monty Python castaway beard only exacerbates.
He's not helped much by his co-stars either: Halle Berry, who seems to become a worse actress with each successive film, really can't handle sass or wisecracks, which is a shame since that's almost all her part consists of, and their initial meeting exchange of innuendoes seems more like eavesdropping a married man picking up a hooker to prove he's still got it than anything else. Rosamund Pike's other fatale femme fares a little better purely on he grounds that, while an extremely one-dimensional performer, to least her limited abilities fit the part. Toby Stephens' villain is a bigger problem. While it's a neat touch that he models himself on an unflattering portrait of Bond's vanity, Stephens actually seems to be basing his performance on Rik Mayall's caricatured MP Alan B'stard from sitcom The New Statesman, and the results aren't pretty - a largely ineffectual screen actor, it's no accident that he needs to don an electronic suit of armour to become a credible foe for Bond in the final punch-up. Curiously, two of the better performances on display come from bit-players John Cleese (pleasingly restrained) and Michael Madsen as a distinctly unimpressed company man. Even Madonna's unnecessary cameo as a lesbian fencing instructor is considerably less painful than her terrible title-song, easily the series' worst. Still, the resulting overly enthusiastic swordfight is okay but would probably have been even better had they hired William Hobbs to choreograph it instead of Bob Anderson (Anderson may have coached Errol Flynn, but only in some of his worst films).
The direction adds to the problems. Lee Tamahouri is a maddeningly variable director, and too often its his weaknesses on display here. For a series that prides itself on globe-trotting, he has a very poor sense of place (aside from the Iceland scenes, this is the first Bond film that really looks like they were afraid to leave the studio backlot) and his handling of action isn't always effective - indeed, the car chase actually looks like several shots are missing. Still, at least they manage to just about get away with the science behind the invisible car more effectively than the awful CGI that undermines the series' reputation for doing daring stunts for real: along with the occasionally slo-mo or sped up scene intros, it just seems horribly out of place without ever quite ruining the film.
Another big problem is the tone. As the 20th entry in EON's series, the desire to celebrate its heritage threatens at times to overwhelm the film as it becomes increasingly self-referential. With almost every scene having an homage, a prop or an audio or visual reference to a previous movie, it stops being fun and becomes labored long before the halfway point. Bond is feeding off himself so much here that at times it reminds you of one of those animals that, when caught in a trap, gnaws its own leg off. It just about gets away with it, but it gets messy. There's fun to be had, most of it in the first half before it goes all Diamonds Are Forever, but there's still the feeling that this could and should have been much better.
It's well-worth tracking down the original 2-disc DVD release for the wealth of extra features that weren't carried over to the very underwhelming recent 'Ultimate Edition,' but if you just want the film to fill in a gap in your collection, this version or the single-disc version are good enough.
- Must Own Them All!
The entire collection is a must have. Box sets 1-4 make a great collection. As a Bond lover, I could leave out the Bronson movies, but then I guess what collection would it be!
The sets each include small booklets with a little bit of neat info on the movies. I really enjoyed learning a little bit more.
You cant go wrong...more info
- Great Christmas Gift
My mother is a huge fan of James Bond movies, so when I purchased this collection for her as a Christmas gift, she absolutely loved it. She has watched and enjoyed these DVDs, and they have performed flawlessly for her....more info
- Watch out if you order whole series
I ordered all 4 of these box sets recently from Amazon during one of their sales. There's nothing wrong with these discs if you get a good copy. But two of my sets were tainted with a defective disc - movie disc (haven't watched any of the bonus discs). I guess I should have done "20 Days of 007" like TBS used to do years back when there was only 14 or so movies. Bottom line is that if you order these, watch them quickly to be sure you don't have any defective discs and miss Amazon's short no-charge return window. I'm giving Amazon 3 stars, not the movies. I'd give the movies 5 stars....more info