Blu-ray: 'Bond 50" Presents All 22 James Bond Films
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of 007 with the Complete Bond on Blu-ray
"Bond 50" (Fox) – Five decades, six James Bonds, and 22 films in this deluxe box set: the complete official James Bond series to date, from "Dr. No" (1962) to "Quantum of Solace" (2009), including the Blu-ray debuts of nine classic Bond films and over 120 hours of bonus features! (This does not include the non-series "Never Say Never Again" or the 1967 Bond spoof "Casino Royale.")
The previous Blu-ray releases were pretty much a random selection and did not include some of the most desired titles, including the "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969), the lone George Lazenby Bond, and Sean Connery's final Bond appearances in "You Only Live Twice" (1967) and "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971). Also debuting in Blu in this set is "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977), "Octopussy" (1983), "A View to a Kill" (1985), "The Living Daylights" (1987), "Goldeneye" (1995), and "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997).
Each disc features a copy of the film (see below for thumbnail reviews) with flashy Maurice Binder-esque menu designs, rich commentaries which range from traditional give-and-take running observations to veritable audio documentaries, and a wide range of original featurettes, archival footage, and interactive supplements. There's even a placeholder for "Skyfall" with a disc featuring promos for the upcoming 23rd Bond film, right next to the bonus disc.
Exclusive to this set is a collection of mostly brief original featurettes: "Being Bond," a mere three-minute featurette with brief interview clips of each of the six actors discussing their approach to Bond (all from archival interviews); "Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style," a four-minute survey of a museum exhibition of costumes, sketches, models, props, and other production artifacts from forty years of Bond movies; and "World of Bond" with six segments, all of them essentially clip montages. "Gadgets" and "Villains" run under three minutes each and "Bond Girls," "Locations," and "Bond in Motion" each run under two minutes (the films are identified in a "Shot by Shot List" but no subtitle option). "Title Sequences" is the longest by far: every single opening credits sequence, one after another, which you can view straight through or pick your film. It runs over an hour. "Skyfall" video blogs, essentially promotional materials for the new movie, fill out the disc.
Even added all together, the original supplements are pretty sketchy overall, which is disappointing in some respects and negligible in others. There are already over a hundred hours of high-quality supplements carried over from previous editions in the individual discs.
This is the most efficient and logical packaging of the films to date. Previous sets randomly tossed films together from different eras into boxes. The DVDs came with little booklets of notes and credits, the Blu-rays simply with credits and a menus of supplements, both featured separate cases for each film, so you could pull them out and line them up on a shelf in proper order.
This set arrives with a pair of hefty 11 x 7 ½ inch books in a solid slipsleeve, holding the discs in sturdy pockets, two per page in chronological order. The facing page features artwork but no notes, not even brief credits, which I would have preferred, as I assume most Bond fans would. I like to peruse the cast lists and credits, which are useful for following villains and Bond girls.
Also available in a DVD edition.
A thumbnail guide to the 22 films in the set is after the jump. Just click on "More" below.
Sean Connery gave birth to the cinema’s most cruelly charismatic cold warrior in "Dr. No" (1962), Bond’s first big screen appearance. It’s lean and hard edged, far from the glitzy, gadget laden sequels, but it establishes one 007 standard when Ursula Andress, the original Bond girl, makes her entrance rising from the Mediterranean sea in a bikini. "From Russia With Love" (1963), 007’s second and perhaps finest outing, features a blonde, buff Robert Shaw as Bond’s most ruthless nemesis. Lotte Lenya and Pedro Armindariz co-star in this sleek, high energy trip through the Iron Curtain, which concludes with a non-stop chase across Europe.
"Goldfinger" (1964) was the first blockbuster hit of the series and it solidified the Bond formula: groaning wit, Q’s glorious gadgets, a megalomaniac supervillain bent on world domination, and of course girls, girls, girls. Connery is as suave as ever, and the villain is dastardly indeed: "Do you expect me talk?" "No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" "Thunderball" (1965) was the biggest (and longest) film in the franchise to that time and climaxes with an elaborate underwater battle that still impresses. The gadgets almost take over in this Nassau based tale of stolen atomic weapons but Connery, more charming and ruthless than ever, commands. SPECTRE rears its conspiratorial head for the first time and Connery’s Bond travels to the Far East to take on its cat loving mastermind Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) in "You Only Live Twice" (1967). Love that underground headquarters in an active volcano!
Handsome, self-effacing Australian model George Lazenby made his only 007 appearance in the underrated "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" (1969). It features great ski chases, a wild, careening car chase on icy roads, and the only time Bond married the babe (Diana Rigg – who could blame him?). After a brief retirement, Connery returned for his final “official” appearance in the “official” Bond series with "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971), a tongue-in-cheek adventure in Las Vegas where he battles Blofeld (this time played by Charles Gray), a pair of fey, sardonic henchmen, and bikini-clad karate killers named Bambi and Thumper.
Roger Moore, already aging past his romantic prime, inherited the Bond mantle from Connery (after the interim appearance of one trick 007 George Lazenby) with style in "Live and Let Die" (1973), a Caribbean adventure of voodoo and drug smuggling. Jane Seymour is heavenly as the fortune telling Domino. His second appearance in "The Man With The Golden Gun" (1974) pits him against master marksman and million dollar assassin Christopher Lee, one of Bond’s most charismatic villains, and his memorable sidekick Herve Villachez. It gets a little goofy but watch for the great corkscrew car jump.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) is one of Roger Moore’s best outings finds the suave but deadly agent in a post-cold war adventure with magnificent sets. Bond initiates détente with the exotic Russian agent Barbara Bach, but it’s still best remembered as the debut of Richard Kiel’s Jaws, who returns in "Moonraker" (1979), a "Star Wars"-inspired outer space adventure, but this goofy, misguided sci-fi extravaganza uses him as comic relief. Gorgeous effects can’t overcome a bland set of heroes and villains.
In "For Your Eyes Only" (1981), Topol plays Bond’s most charming ally, a gregarious smuggler, and Roger Moore leaves the tongue-in-cheek silliness behind for a slim but lavish action packed globe-trotting adventure. The colorful cold war thriller "Octopussy" (1983) was one of Moore’s better Bond outings. Louis Jordan is a corrupt Afghan prince and Maud Adams (making her second Bond appearance) is the ringmaster of an all-babe traveling circus that unknowingly carries a nuclear bomb. Christopher Walken hams it up under a platinum blonde hairdo while his Amazon bodyguard Grace Jones growls through "A View To A Kill" (1985), a silly but often visually impressive adventure. Moore was too old and stiff to carry on the Bond legacy and Tanya Roberts is a lifeless Bond babe.
Timothy Dalton made his 007 debut in the lean, mean mode of Sean Connery in "The Living Daylights" (1987), doing away with the jokey camp of Roger Moore’s final outtings. It misses the larger than life characters and spectacle of previous Bond pictures, but it’s a sleek script with a no-nonsense attitude and Dalton made a tough, ruthless 007: a worthy inheritor of the legacy. He followed up with "Licence To Kill" (1989), another disappointment. Dalton got a bad rap as the series returned to the tough, lean action style of the first Bond films, eschewing gadgetry and glamour for grit, but the problem was in the scripts, not in Dalton.
Pierce Brosnan resurrected the franchise after six years as the new Bond in "GoldenEye" (1995). His debut is the best Bond film in years, combining the grit and cool of Connery with the romance and humor of Moore in an international caper that takes him from Siberia to Jamaica. Famke Jansen is the most deliciously untamed villain in decades. "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997) is neither as fun or clever as Brosnan’s debut , but it’s nice to see a Bond babe (Hong Kong action star Michelle Yeoh) hold her own against the suave super agent and Jonathan Pryce is fun an old-fashioned super-villain with global aspirations. "The World Is Not Enough" (1999) is a bit silly (Denise Richards as a physicist named Christmas Jones?), but Sophie Marceau glows with feral glee as nemesis. And the series celebrated its 40th Anniversary with "Die Another Day" (2002), the 20th Bond feature, and the fourth and final go round for Brosnan, who crosses paths with slinky CIA spy Halle Berry (she rises from the surf like Ursula Andress in "Dr. No") and fights his way through some of the best set pieces the series ever delivered.
Daniel Craig steps into the tuxedo of the world's most famous spy in "Casino Royale" (2006), the back-to-the-basics thriller that refreshes the series by returning to Ian Fleming's first Bond novel (previously made as a telefilm and a big-budget movie comedy) and charting the career of a still rough-around-the-edges British agent as he's elevated to "00" status: the legendary "license to kill." Martin Campbell, who also christened Pierce Brosnan's debut in "Goldeneye," returns as director. "Quantum of Solace" (2008) picks up right where to "Casino Royale" left off, with Bond on a mission of revenge and his rogue investigation takes him to the heart of the mysterious “Quantum” organization (the 21st century answer to SPECTRE?) and a conspiracy to hijack the world's natural resources.