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Case Number 10532

Buy James Bond Ultimate Edition (Volume 3) at Amazon

James Bond Ultimate Edition (Volume 3)

From Russia With Love
1963 // 111 Minutes // Rated PG
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
1969 // 142 Minutes // Rated PG
Live And Let Die
1973 // 122 Minutes // Rated PG
For Your Eyes Only
1981 // 122 Minutes // Rated PG
Goldeneye
1995 // 130 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Released by MGM
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 1st, 2007

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All Rise...

A word of warning from Judge David Johnson: if you ever find yourself on the business end of a compressed-gas pistol, duck.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of For Your Eyes Only (published December 3rd, 1999), For Your Eyes Only (Blu-Ray) (published November 3rd, 2008), From Russia With Love (published October 16th, 2000), From Russia With Love (Blu-Ray) (published November 3rd, 2008), Goldeneye: Special Edition (published October 24th, 1999), Live And Let Die (published January 24th, 2000), Live And Let Die (Blu-Ray) (published October 21st, 2008), and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (published October 27th, 2000) are also available.

The Charge

"He always did have an inflated opinion of himself."

Opening Statement

In honor of the release of the much-hyped (and well-deserved of that hype, I might add) Casino Royale, Fox/MGM has unleashed a double-dip of Bond, repackaging all 20 films in sexy new boxes, slick audio and video remastering, and an Aston Martin load of extras.

Facts of the Case

James Bond and his pals have already made a splash on DVD, and the discs weren't anything to sneeze at. Though a lot of these releases are tough to track down, they were decent issues. Is it worth shelling out over $200 for the films again (four boxes, at least $50 a shot)? In short, if you're a Bond fan, probably. The transfers look great and the never-before-released bonus features that can only be found on the Ultimates are strong. More details to follow after the break…

The Evidence

Volume 3 sports five two-disc special edition Bond films: From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Live and Let Die, For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye. Disc 1 gives you the feature film and commentary tracks, Disc 2 the bonus features. Let's holster the Walther PPK and disembark. (Beware of spoilers.)

From Russia With Love

The Mission
James Bond's sophomore adventure finds 007 (Sean Connery, Dr. No) dispatched to Russia to track down a Soviet encryption device that will prove invaluable in the game of global subterfuge. The British Secret Service thinks the device may be bait for a trap, but the possibility of snagging it is too attractive to ignore.

Well, it is a trap, set up by the criminal group SPECTRE. Bond is their target, and they have sent their greatest weapon to retrieve him: Red Grant (Robert Shaw) the seemingly invincible badass. Now two super-agents are on a collision course, with SPECTRE's trigger-happy goons batting clean-up, leaving Bond and his comely Russian defector Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) to break free of the Soviet empire and make it to England.

The Debriefing
From Russia with Love is my favorite Connery Bond film because of its simplicity. Though espionage swirls about, it is essentially a road movie, as Bond and Tatiana bounce from car to train to boat to elude the Russian and SPECTRE pursuers. These two are carrying a gadget that can tilt the balance of power in the world, and have to smuggle it out of the country at all costs. And with Red Grant, a supremely dope Bond heavy, on their tail, the stakes are even higher.

Grant is Bond's equal in brawn and cunning, as evidenced by the pre-credits sequence (the very first one of the franchise) where he stalks and hunts a Bond look-alike. This sets up the showdown that we know is coming. Though perhaps the leanest in storytelling of any Bond film, From Russia With Love is also the one of the most exciting because of it. It's not hard to see why this film is one the most popular in the canon.

The Intel
This flick looks awesome. The details are striking and the video quality is sharp in the 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are strong, the highlight of the presentation being the fiery boat chase finale. Fox has delivered the goods. Though not a powerhouse of explosions and throbbing soundtrack, the sound mix in From Russia With Love is clean and effective. The helicopter sequence especially stands out.

The Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Terrence Young and Members of the Cast and Crew
• Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview
• Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler
• Ian Fleming on Desert Island Discs
• Storyboards
• Interactive Guide
• Inside From Russia With Love

• Harry Saltzman: Showman
• Trailers and Promo Spots

Quality of Main Bad Guy's Demise
The smackdown between Bond and Grant in the train has achieved iconic status and even now, 40-plus years removed, it stands firm as an exercise in cinematic brutality, more than living up to the face-off promised to us in the opening.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

The Mission
After Sean Connery hung up his Walther holster, George Lazenby was called into the shoulder the burden. Lazenby's debut adventure found his Bond going face-to-face with SPECTRE big-shot and longtime Bond nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas). Blofeld has developed a scheme to unleash proto-biological warfare on the planet, and Bond must infiltrate his mountain fortress, knock boots with the gaggle of nubile, impressionable young ladies, and ultimately align himself with a known criminal to bring the Blofeld down. Along the way, he just might find…love?

The Debriefing
Yes, I understand there is a committed strain of Bond-fans out there who cling to OHMSS as one of the best Bonds ever produced. I'm sorry, but after reacquainting myself with Lazenby's first and last outing as 007, I fail to see what the hype is about. Frankly, I found Lazenby's Bond a total dork, and a horny one at that. His dialogue is cheesy (especially that fourth-wall breaking comment in the pre-credits sequence) and I don't buy him in his action sequences (almost as much as I don't buy Roger Moore). And all that Sir Hillary stuff was unending and brain-numbing.

Much has also been made about the action sequences in the film, and while I agree for the most part that there is a lot of cool stuff here—the ski chases are my favorite—bad dubbing ("He's branched off"—eccchhhh) and primitive rear-projection screen work hurt the excitement. Plus, the action is almost entirely loaded on the back end, which, while allowing for an exceptionally brisk final hour, makes for a lot of tedium to plow through.

It's almost certainly the final scene that has earned the film much of its dramatic accolades. I won't ruin it in case the 12 of you don't know what happens, but in my opinion, it's a trump card, allowing for instant gravitas. It's fair to employ, but I don't think the movie as a whole deserves to be ranked among the best in the Bond canon because of a last-minute Oscar clip.

The Intel
I presume OHMSS looks about as good as it can ever look on DVD. Too bad the crisp transfer provides an even starker contrast of the real-time stunts and the lame back screen work. When John Barry's score kicks in during the snowtop assault, those DTS and Dolby Digital tracks hit hard.

The Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Hunt and Members of the Cast and Crew
• Casting On Her Majesty's Secret Service

• Press Day in Portugal
• George Lazenby in his own words
• Shot on Ice: Original 1969 Ford Promo Film
• Swiss Movement: Original 1969 Featurette
• Interactive Guide
• Inside On Her Majesty's Secret Service

• Inside Q's Lab
• Above it All—Original 1969 Featurette
• Trailers and Promo Spots

Quality of Main Bad Guy's Demise
Well, maybe "demise" is too strong a word…

Live and Let Die

The Mission
Continuing the trend of new Bonds and their first films, Roger Moore (The Saint) dons the tux in his first outing, squaring off with a mysterious drug-runner, his gorgeous Tarot card reader (Jane Seymour) and Baron Samedi, the flamboyant voodoo priest. Bond's investigation into a string of assassinations on MI6 agents leads him to Harlem, New Orleans and a secluded island drenched in voodoo mystery. All the while, 007 dodges the henchmen of Mr. Big, nefarious drug kingpin as well as the sinister Kananga.

The Debriefing
Moore is certainly in the best shape of his Bond career in this, his first go at the role. In fact, it's almost jarring to see a "youthful" Moore here (he was in his mid-40s when he stepping in as Bond, though) versus the long-in-the-tooth Old Man Bond we would see in A View to a Kill. But agility and suaveness—which I readily admit Moore had in abundance—can only take a Bond film so far, and Life and Let Die, ultimately falls short of noteworthiness. Maybe it's the slow pace or the ho-hum plot or the transparent attempt to cash in on the blaxpoitation craze, but Moore's debut does little for me.

His Bond girl, a smoking Jane Seymour, has the mysticism thing going and that gives her a slight edge, but overall she's pretty dull. And while the villains are written with the maximum eccentricity (Tee Hee's got a fearsome hook on his hand, Whisper speaks quietly, Mr. Big is concealing a secret identity with entry-level latex, Baron Samedi wears a top hat) none succeed in differentiating themselves in the 007 rogues gallery.

Finally, a word about the action scenes. Much is made of the extended boat chase through the Louisiana bayou, and there are indeed some great moments, but the sequence never quite hit the thrilling mark (probably because of the forced insertion of the bumbling Sheriff Pepper). The "croc walk" was pretty sweet, though, considering it was done for real.

Overall, a weird, unsatisfying introduction to the Roger Moore Bond era.

The Intel
A very, very crisp 1.85:1 transfer awaits you. Truly, Live and Let Die has never looked better, and the expansive bayou scenes are absolutely gorgeous to look at. Top-notch. The soundscape of this film isn't breathtaking, but both digital tracks are still impressive, especially in the busier parts of the film (boat chase, torching the drug crops).

The Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Sir Roger Moore
• Audio Commentary with Director Guy Hamilton
• Audio Commentary with Tom Mankiewicz
• Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary
• Roger Moore as Bond, Circa 1964
• Concept Art
• Interactive Guide
• Inside Live and Let Die

• On Set with Roger Moore
• Trailers and Promo Spots

Quality of Main Bad Guy's Demise
By far, the worst end bad guy death of any action movie ever. In one move, the evil Kananga transforms into the lovable cartoon character, The Incredible, Inflatable Supervillain!

For Your Eyes Only

The Mission
Moore is back, this time in pursuit of a top-secret missile tracking doohickey, which has been captured by a diabolical Greek criminal called Kristatos (Julian Glover). Tagging along with Bond is the alluring Melina (Carole Bouquet), who's after Kristatos to settle a blood vendetta. The pair find themselves globe-trotting from the Winter Olympics to shark-infested waters and finally to a mountain-top monastery to track their prey. Also along from the ride, that crazy scientist guy from Flash Gordon.

The Debriefing
Bouncing back from the ludicrous Moonraker, Moore cradles the martini in his best effort. The producers made a conscious effort to strip the more outrageous camp elements that had besieged the franchise—and reached their zenith in Moonraker—and reintroduce Bond with a harder edge and fewer space laser rifles. The fruit of their labor is my favorite Moore film and one of my favorite Bond installments. There is still cheese to be found, but the producers have shown remarkable restraint, which, unfortunately, gets tossed out in the laughable Octopussy.

The most memorable aspect of the film is Moore's harder, grimmer Bond. He still retains the charm and comedic timing that are key to the Moore dynasty, but there's a more sinister side of Bond that we haven't seen since Connery and would later bloom with the emergence of Dalton in the tux. His dispatching of "The Dove" in particular stands out as a cold, jarring moment.

For Your Eyes Only also has some eye-popping stunts, which, for my money, have yet to be eclipsed in the series for pure bravado (though that Casino Royale foot chase comes close). The skiing sequences are fantastic, especially the bobsled run, and the climb up the sheer mountain face for the finale generates authentic tension.

Oh, and Carole Bouquet is super-hot and one of my favorite Bond girls, though the fact Moore could have easily been her father is slightly troubling.

The Intel
Another whopper of a technical treatment. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is excellent and the digital audio mixes sound great. I loved the skiing sequences, though the crisper detail continues to make that rear projection work look chintzy.

The Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Roger Moore
• Audio Commentary with Director John Glen and Actors
• Audio Commentary with Michael G. Wilson and Crew
• Deleted Scenes
• Bond in Greece
• Bond in Cortina
• Neptune's Journey
• Interactive Guide
• Inside For Your Eyes Only

• Storyboards
• Sheena Easton Music Video
• Trailers and Promos

Quality of Main Bad Guy's Demise
Cold, dirty, with very little fanfare and satisfying—sort of like the film itself.

GoldenEye

The Mission
Wrapping up the motif for this set, Pierce Brosnan debuts as 007 in this post-Cold War adventure that finds Bond tangling with Russians, orgasmic femme fatales and a blast from his past. Someone has hijacked the top-secret GoldenEye satellite, which is capable of firing a powerful EMP pulse on any Earth-bound target, crippling all electronics and generally screwing over all the people that live there.

Bond is unleashed to reveal the identity of the heavy in charge and during his investigation, he picks up a glamorous Russian immigrant, smacks around a assassin that uses her legs to squeeze people to death (that would be the luscious Famke Janssen), drives a tank through St. Petersburg, exchanges verbal quips with the new M (Judi Dench in her first go-round as the head of MI6), and eventually kicks all kind of ass on a gigantic satellite dish.

The Debriefing
Ahh, a fine way to cap off the set. GoldenEye is hands-down my favorite Brosnan film, and proved to be an excellent way to usher in the tenure of one of the series' best Bonds. Brosnan does have it all—the suaveness of Moore, the physicality of Connery and the jawline of Dalton—and while Timmy D. and Daniel Craig are currently vying for tiles of My Favorite Bond, Brosnan is a force to be reckoned with.

His maiden voyage combines a host of familiar villains (the always-happy-to-be-shot Russian bullet magnets), some good-looking ladies, a great score, impressive action and one of the best villains the series has ever seen.

It's got its flaws however, mainly some obvious model-work that proves distracting, a bland Bond girl (Izabella Scorupco, a looker sure, is as dull as Janssen is electric) and a goofy doomsday plot. But the checkmarks are heavily in the "pro" column for the film, which, when all is said and done, remains one of my preferred Bond entries.

The Intel
Great picture (2.35:1 anamorphic) and great sound (DTS and Dolby Digital) make GoldenEye a real treat for the senses. The action is loud and the sound mix is active (that tank chase stands out).

The Extras:

• Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell and Michael G. Wilson
• Deleted Scenes
• Directing Bond: The Martin Chronicles
• Building a Better Bond: Pre-Production Featurette
• The Return of Bond: Press Event
• Driven to Bond: Remy Julienne
• Anatomy of a Stunt: Tank Versus Perrier
• Making it Small in Pictures: Derek Meddings
• On Location with Peter Lamont
• GoldenEye: The Secret Files
• Storyboards
• Interactive Guide
• "The World of 007" TV Special
• Video Journal
• Promotional Featurette
• Tina Tuner Music Video
• Trailers and Promo Spots

Quality of Main Bad Guy's Demise
It's a winner as said bad guy takes a huge plummet and, on top of that, finds himself impaled by a flaming piece of satellite dish debris. Overkill? Sure. But he had it coming.

Closing Statement

Before I wrap this sucker up, a word about the extras. Yes, many of them have appeared on previous releases, but the add-ons stand out, particularly the newly recorded commentaries with Roger Moore. Moore is lucid and witty and it's a real treat to listen to him on both of his films. There are plenty of other brand-new extras on each disc, all of which are substantial, and these, combined with the outstanding technical merits and the gorgeous packaging, make this Ultimate Edition a real score.

The Verdict

Guilty. Not…Guilty.

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Scales of Justice, From Russia With Love

Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 95
Acting: 90
Story: 95
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile, From Russia With Love

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Korean
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1963
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, From Russia With Love

• Audio Commentary with Terrence Young and Members of the Cast and Crew
• Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview
• Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler
• Ian Fleming on Desert Island Discs
• Storyboards
• Interactive Guide
• Inside From Russia With Love
• Harry Saltzman: Showman
• Trailers and Promo Spots

Scales of Justice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Video: 95
Audio: 100
Extras: 95
Acting: 80
Story: 75
Judgment: 79

Perp Profile, On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Korean
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 142 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, On Her Majesty's Secret Service

• Audio Commentary with Director Peter Hunt and Members of the Cast and Crew
• Casting On Her Majesty's Secret Service
• Press Day in Portugal
• George Lazenby in his own words
• Shot on Ice: Original 1969 Ford Promo Film
• Swiss Movement: Original 1969 Featurette
• Interactive Guide
• Inside On Her Majesty's Secret Service
• Inside Q's Lab
• Above it All -- Original 1969 Featurette
• Trailers and Promo Spots

Scales of Justice, Live And Let Die

Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 95
Acting: 85
Story: 70
Judgment: 82

Perp Profile, Live And Let Die

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Korean
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, Live And Let Die

• Audio Commentary with Roger Moore
• Audio Commentary with Director Guy Hamilton
• Audio Commentary with Tom Mankiewicz
• Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary
• Roger Moore as Bond, Circa 1964
• Concept Art
• Interactive Guide
• Inside Live and Let Die
• On Set with Roger Moore
• Trailers and Promo Spots

Scales of Justice, For Your Eyes Only

Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 95
Acting: 85
Story: 90
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, For Your Eyes Only

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Korean
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 122 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, For Your Eyes Only

• Audio Commentary with Roger Moore
• Audio Commentary with Director John Glen and Actors
• Audio Commentary with Michael G. Wilson and Crew
• Deleted Scenes
• Bond in Greece
• Bond in Cortina
• Neptune's Journey
• Interactive Guide
• Inside For Your Eyes Only
• Storyboards
• Sheena Easton Music Video
• Trailers and Promos

Scales of Justice, Goldeneye

Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 100
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 93

Perp Profile, Goldeneye

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Korean
• Spanish
• Thai
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks, Goldeneye

• Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell and Michael G. Wilson
• Deleted Scenes
• Directing Bond: The Martin Chronicles
• Building a Better Bond: Pre-Production Featurette
• The Return of Bond: Press Event
• Driven to Bond: Remy Julienne
• Anatomy of a Stunt: Tank Versus Perrier
• Making it Small in Pictures: Derek Meddings
• On Location with Peter Lamont
• GoldenEye: The Secret Files
• Storyboards
• Interactive Guide
• "The World of 007" TV Special
• Video Journal
• Promotional Featurette
• Tina Tuner Music Video
• Trailers and Promo Spots








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