Let’s get this out of the way now. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade your dusty VHS Bond Library, or have been content thus far to assuage your Bondage related activity with the regular TV outings, then this is the box set for you.
The films have never looked or sounded better and you could stun a herd of villainous foreigners with the amount of extras included on the discs. Likewise if you’re an eager Bond completist you’ll already have your handsome box set sitting on your shelf next to the DVDs and Laserdiscs, though there are a few issues you should consider before your 007 DVD library gets a shiny HD upgrade.
A film series which lasts half a decade inevitably becomes something of a document of genre and film history. Though the other, similarly initialed, super spy has recently become a template for the espionage action movie fifty years of 007 have seen the secret agent become the pinnacle of sophistication, a sign of the times, a bandwagon jumper, a dinosaur and finally a reinvented man; on through parody and beyond. Being able to sit down and chart the adventures of one of cinema’s most dynamic characters and also the changing face of the action thriller is a rare treat.
The presentation of the discs themselves gives you idea of the lavish attention which has been paid to this new collection. The twenty-two films come in two hardback books with slots for two discs per page, the opposing pages filled with images from the films. There is, in the final page of the second book, a space for the Blu-ray disc of Skyfall, a small touch which makes a great impression. There is an attention to detail here which goes some way to justifying the price of the set, and though it’s a small part of the overall experience it’s a thing of beauty.
The earlier films look resplendent, not though as is claimed in one of the new bonus features ‘as period films shot now’, the crisp detail and the vibrancy of the colours helps the familiar films hold your eye. The earlier Connery films look better than the later Moore dalliances, though rumours of a heavy hand with the DNR have been overplayed. It’s true that Goldeneye suffers, but for the most part the films benefit from the upgrade in definition, in some films the jump from DVD to Blu-ray is spectacular.
The extras are where you’ll find yourself making the decision one way or the other. Many of the one hundred and twenty hours have already been seen on the previously released discs, and excellent though they are (and they really are excellent) if your bent runs to Bond to the extent that you’ve already picked up the entire DVD or previously available Blus you’ll be most interested in the new disc of bonus features. Having ploughed through the entire disc in little under an hour this is undoubtedly the weak spot of the box set.
The World of Bond breaks up the constituent parts of 007’s sphere and runs through the films in order highlighting the various elements. Villains, Bond Girls, Cars etc etc all get the treatment It acts as a bizarre slideshow of Bond miscellany, adding absolutely nothing to the enjoyment or understanding of the man or the series. I cannot see a time when I’ll sit down and want to watch a scrap of a scene from every Bond film which involves a car. Being Bond was the real draw for many Bondians waiting for this box set as it featured interviews with the men who were Bond. It would have been a fascinating documentary if it lasted longer than the few minutes it is afforded here. There are the previously released Skyfall web documentaries which are an unnessecary, but still welcome, addition. The restoration of the series provides the greatest bounty here as there’s a neat look at the work done to repair the films. I’m a sucker for this type of documentary but it’s hardly groundbreaking stuff.
The jewel in this beautiful presented crown are the films themselves, and that’s as it should be. The set delivers twenty films of naturally varying quality in a striking fashion. It’s been an absolute pleasure revisiting the film on Blu-ray and while the extras are a let-down I doubt you’ll find a better way to enjoy fifty years of callous murder, dubious sexual politics, exhilarating action and the Martini-soaked travails of the most famous secret agent of them all.
Extras: (3/5) (new Extras: (2/5)
For a complete list of the extras click here to see full details of the box set here.