History Channel // 2002 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 10th, 2012
The world's greatest spy and the devices that got him out of every situation imaginable.
If there is one thing James Bond is known for, it is all of the wonderful toys that Her Majesty's Secret Service provides him with to do his job. Gadgets, survival items, and the coolest cars on the planet all outfit the super spy in film's longest running franchise. The History Channel presents James Bond Gadgets that delves into chronicling all the most iconic devices that Bond has used throughout his career. The first program is divided into five chapters including a look at the rocket pack, Little Nellie the micro helicopter, the "Q" boat and toys, Bond cars, and finally real-life spy training. There is a second installment that covers a mini jet, the Thunderball sled, the spiral jump, more vehicles, and finally a look at a spy museum.
The most amazing part of this documentary is that it focuses on where the actual props are now, and shows us who has them in many instances. They have hunted down archivists and collectors who specialize in anything Bond-related, which makes for a fascinating journey. If there is one flaw with this whole presentation, though, is that we never get to see any clips from the actual Bond films. They simply mention the movie by name and skip any small beat that would let us see it in action. That's the big drawback here. But it is nice to see these iconic gadgets where they live now, and it triggers a lot of memories for any 007 fans.
The transfer is straightforward in a television-appropriate 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen along with a basic Dolby 2.0 stereo track. There are not really any tricks here, and it all looks quite clear. The sole extra is the Biography episode about Bond author Ian Fleming from A&E, which, ironically, has a ton of clips from the movies. It's a strong supplement that almost overshadows the main feature because it does such a great job of explaining how Bond was created. It is a fascinating portrait of the author who came up with all the stories that the films were based on.
James Bond Gadgets marries two documentaries on the tools of the spy trade used by cinema's most celebrated secret agent. They originally hit the History Channel airwaves in 2002 and 2004, and appear here with the A&E-produced Biography of author Ian Fleming. They are good, solid pieces that do justice to their topic even though they lack any clips from the famous film franchise showing these devices in action. It's great fun to see how these props work and where they are now; a testimony to the staying power of the world's greatest spy.
Guilty of showing the world where to get 007's greatest gadgets.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episode
* IMDb: Modern Marvels
* IMDb: Biography Ian Fleming