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James Bond Blu-ray Collection, Volumes 1 and 2 Review

James Bond Blu-ray Collection, Volumes 1 & 2 cover art - click to buy James Bond Blu-ray Collection, Volumes 1 and 2

Volume 1: Dr. No (1962), Live and Let Die (1973), Die Another Day (2002)
Volume 2: From Russia with Love (1963), Thunderball (1965), For Your Eyes Only (1981)

16:9 Widescreen; Thunderball, For Your Eyes Only, Die Another Day: 2.35:1; Dr. No, From Russia With Love: 1.66:1; Lie and Let Die: 1.85:1

DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, all films), Dolby 2.0 Mono (English, all films except For Your Eyes Only and Die Another Day), Dolby 2.0 Surround (English, For Your Eyes Only), Dolby Digital Mono (Spanish, all films except Die Another Day), Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish, Die Another Day)

Subtitles: English, Spanish (all films) / See Below for Cast, Directors and Other Film Details
Release Date: October 21, 2008 / SRPs: $179.96 (Six-Pack), $89.98 (3-Movie Volumes), $34.98 (Individual)
Six single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50s) / Slim-line Blue Keepcases in Cardboard Slipcover

Buy the James Bond Blu-ray Collection from Amazon.com:
Six-Pack (Volumes 1 & 2) / Volume 1 (Die Another Day, Live and Let Die, Dr. No) / Volume 2 (For Your Eyes Only, From Russia with Love, Thunderball)

For Your Eyes Only movie poster For Your Eyes Only

Theatrical Release: June 26, 1981 / Running Time: 127 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: John Glen / Writers: Ian Fleming (stories); Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (screenplay)

Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Carole Bouquet (Melina Havelock), Topol (Milos Columbo), Lynn-Holly Johnson (Bibi Dahl), Julian Glover (Aristotle Kristatos), Cassandra Harris (Countess Lisl von Schlaf), Jill Bennett (Jacoba Brink), Michael Gothard (Emile Leopold Locque), John Wyman (Erich Kriegler), Jack Hedley (Sir Timothy Havelock), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenney), Desmond Llewelyn (Q)
For Your Eyes Only Blu-ray cover art

Buy For Your Eyes Only from Amazon.com:
Individual Blu-ray • Six-Pack (Volumes 1 & 2) • Volume 2 (3-Pack) • Two-Disc Ultimate Edition DVD • Ultimate Collector's Set DVD

Moore's fifth time playing Bond, For Your Eyes Only, opens with the series' final appearance by Blofeld, the ultimate villain who unfortunately gets very little screentime in the first wave of Bond on Blu-ray. The rest of the movie has nothing to do with him; instead, it focuses on 007's quest to find a sunken ship containing an important communicator before it falls into KGB hands. Along the way, he meets Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), the vengeful daughter of the recently murdered man who MI6 first employed to uncover the sunken ship.

For Your Eyes Only is easily the most instantly forgettable of the six movies included in this collection. There's nothing new or unique about this addition to the 007 repertoire, nothing to make it stand out from any that come before or after. The best thing I can say is that the many action sequences are decently entertaining in their own right. As someone who prefers Moore's light-hearted Bond to Connery's comparatively stuffy performance, I can at least enjoy the charisma but that's not enough to drive a whole film.

Die Another Day movie poster Die Another Day

Theatrical Release: November 22, 2002 / Running Time: 133 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Lee Tamahori / Writers: Ian Fleming (characters); Neal Purvis, Robert Wade

Cast: Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Halle Berry (Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson), Toby Stephens (Gustav Graves), Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost), Rick Yue (Zao), Judi Dench (M), John Cleese (Q), Michael Madsen (Damian Falco), Will Yun Lee (Colonel Moon), Kenneth Tsang (General Moon), Emilio Echevarrνa (Raoul), Michael Gorevoy (Vlad), Lawrence Makoare (Mr. Kil), Charles Robinson (Colin Salmon), Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenny)
Die Another Day Blu-ray cover art

Buy Die Another Day from Amazon.com:
Individual Blu-ray • Six-Pack (Volumes 1 & 2) • Volume 1 (3-Pack) • Two-Disc Ultimate Edition DVD • Ultimate Collector's Set DVD

The Bond Blu-ray Collection jumps ahead twenty-one years (and skips over Timothy Dalton) for its sixth and last inclusion of Wave 1: Die Another Day. This time, it's Pierce Brosnan in his final performance as James Bond. Shortly after the film opens, Bond uncharacteristically falls prisoner to the North Koreans and as Madonna's catchy theme song plays, we see him tortured. When one of the people responsible for his downfall is captured by the good guys, the North Koreans agree to release Bond in an exchange for their guy.
M (Judi Dench) has bad news waiting for the agent upon his return, however; it appears that he may have leaked some classified info during his torture and it's going to cost him his 007 status. Seeking redemption, Bond takes it on his own to find those responsible for his capture. Along the way, he's joined by an American NSA agent, Jinx Johnson (Halle Berry). Their search leads them to Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a billionaire who is involved with diamond minds in Iceland.

Die Another Day is generally disliked, often for superficial reasons (read: too much ice, too much CGI). Those complaints are well-founded; after all, the effects do look a little silly at times. But to act like the Bond series consisted of serious dramas until Die Another Day came along and wrecked it with over-the-top action, endless gadgets, CGI, and minimal narrative is nonsense. The films have always been guilty of the very same vices; the clearly digital appearance of a few scenes here simply stand out a little more, that's all. But Brosnan is a solid Bond and Halle Berry, Judi Dench, John Cleese, and the rest compliment him well. The fact that the movie even begins on a daring note, what with Bond's fall and torture, is more than can be said for some that precede it. It is a shame that the potentially compelling implications of that weren't explored in further depth here, but the intrigue that it lends (at least early on) is notable.


Before going on, an important note on disc compatibility: Four of these discs loaded just fine in my primary Blu-ray player. Die Another Day prompted me for a firmware update to my player, but then proceeded to load everything save a little skipping in the menu at the beginning (this happened only one of the several times that I inserted the disc). For Your Eyes Only, however, would not load in my primary player at all beyond the initial FBI screens. I had to resort to a secondary Blu-ray player, which loaded it just fine. (Due to a temporary problem with my Ethernet connectivity, I couldn't perform a firmware update right away.)

Others have reported compatibility issues with the discs as well. Apparently, different players have problems with different discs, and some players have no problems at all. A firmware update may very well solve the problem; in some cases, it may not. Buyers beware, know your retailer's return policy, and hold on to your receipts!


The press release claims that "Blu-ray was made for Bond". Turns out they're right. The hi-definition transfers, presented in their respective original aspect ratios and in 1080p high definition with AVC MPEG-4 encoding, are nothing short of stunning. Dr. No is immediately arresting with skies that put the blue in Blu-ray. Honey Ryder's classic emergence from the water has never been so jaw dropping. It's incredible that something made in 1962 can look so vibrant, but it does. The following films do not fail to similarly amaze. As a newer movie, Die Another Day is perhaps less mind-blowing but nevertheless amazing. I had to verbally register my astonishment approximately every half-hour throughout all six movies. Fox/MGM have used the same hi-definition Lowry restorations that were employed for the previous Ultimate Edition DVDs, but on Blu-ray, it might as well be a whole new effort.

All six movies offer a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track. Sound clarity is amazing and when it comes to score and effects, I'm not sure I've ever heard a more pleasing surround mix. But the dialogue is a very different story. There's considerable disparity in volume levels between the speaking and all the other sound, such that you'll need to turn the dial up high to hear what's said but be comfortable with a rousing soundtrack when the action kicks in. Those who don't mind watching a movie with the sound cranked up probably won't mind too much, but their neighbors might. This is to be expected from a multi-channel presentation that has only original mono sound to work with, but the dialogue levels could probably have received a boost to even things out.

The movies also offer their original audio presentations, which for the first four movies (chronologically) is two-channel mono. With For Your Eyes Only, that's Dolby 2.0 Stereo sound. Die Another Day's only English track is the DTS-HD MA one, which makes sense for a 2002 production. The original audio tracks will solve the volume imbalance (and please the purists), but unless you need to keep things quiet, I'd still go with the DTS-HD MA option.

As for foreign languages, all six discs offer a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track in French. The first four movies (chronologically) offer a two-channel mono Spanish track. For Your Eyes Only offers a single-channel mono track in Spanish and Die Another Day offers a Dolby 2.0 Stereo track in Spanish. All six movies have subtitles in English and Spanish.


None of the bonus features on the Blu-ray Collection are new to Blu-ray. However, a number of them have been upgraded -- at least in part -- to feature hi-definition video where available. That's more work than Fox could have gotten by with and in fact, even carrying over the majority of the supplements bestowed upon previous home video releases is a bit surprising.
Die Another Day is notably an exception to this -- while it carries everything over from the most recent DVD release, it offers far less in the way of supplementary material than the other movies.

Each of the six discs divides bonus features into the same sections. I'll address those sections individually below and then talk about what each movie offers within them.

M16 Commentary

Each of the Bond Blu-rays features at least one audio commentary. All the commentaries are carried over from previous DVD or laserdisc releases; none are newly recorded. That's okay, as the ones here are pretty good and more than comprehensive.

On Dr. No, John Cork from the Ian Fleming Foundation hosts a montage of interviews with director Terence Young and many members of cast and crew. From Russia with Love and Thunderball are both given the same. These tracks are interesting in terms of content but with a format that samples many solo speakers, they're also a little dry. In addition to that track, Thunderball also offers a second commentary track featuring editor Peter Hunt, screenwriter John Hopkins, and others -- again with Cork hosting.

Live and Let Die offers three commentary tracks. The first is by Sir Roger Moore, the second again hosted by John Corke and featuring interviews with director Guy Hamilton and others, and the third by screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz. Of the three, Roger Moore's is unquestionably the most interesting and, despite some lulls in his comments, one of the best commentaries offered on any of these discs.

For Your Eyes Only also has three commentary tracks, the first again coming from Sir Roger Moore. The second and third commentary are compilations similar to those on the other discs, only now hosted by David Naler. The first of these focuses on John Glen while the second focuses on Michael Wilson. I listened to selections from each and all were enjoyable, with Moore's commentary featuring more spaces of silence than would be preferred (I won't fault him -- how often do stars sit down for audio commentaries, let alone solo ones?).

Die Another Day offers three commentary tracks as well. The first and best is by stars Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike. The second is from director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G. Wilson. The final track is a visual "M16 Datastream", which puts on-screen factoids at the bottom of the picture and occasionally minimizes the movie to show a related video featurette. This is a neat idea but I've never found watching and reading to be particularly complimentary activities.

Top Level Access

The only disc to feature this section is Dr. No. Inside is "007: License to Restore" (11:56), a somewhat in-depth look at the restoration process that produced such beautiful transfers. The folks at Lowry talk about their restoration philosophy, which makes this particularly interesting.

Declassified: M16 Vault

This is the section for each disc's random featurettes. Dr. No opens with "The Guns of James Bond" (5:06), an old black and white bit featuring Sean Connery in an overview of Bond's weaponry. There's also "Premiere Bond: Opening Nights" (13:09), another vintage featurette that looks at the world premiere event for Dr. No and other Bond films.

From Russia with Love presents "Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview" (7:42) and "Ian Fleming & Raymond Chandler" (5:11), both brief 1960s featurettes on the author behind 007.
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Finally, there's "Animated Storyboard Sequence" (1:28), which puts together illustrations used to plan the boat chase scene.

Thunderball offers lengthier material, starting with "'The Incredible World of James Bond' - Original 1965 NBC Television Special" (50:54), which is exactly what it sounds like. That's followed by a vintage short film, "'A Child's Guide to Blowing Up a Motor Car' - 1965 Ford Promotional Film" (17:09). Next is "On Location with Ken Adam" (13:06), in which the production designer gives the viewer a look at Thunderball sets. "Bill Suitor: The Rocket Man Movies" (3:54) is simply a collection of footage showing test runs of the rocket pack seen early on in the movie. Then there is "Thunderball Boat Show Reel" (2:51), which is nothing more than a promo piece put together for a boat show back in the day. Finally, there's a set of 3 commercials entitled "'Selling Bonds' - Original 1965 Television Commercials" (2:05 using 'Play All').

Live and Let Die has three 'Declassified' featurettes. First is "Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary" (21:41), which is an old-school overview of Bond movies running through the Connery era and up to Roger Moore. After that is one of the best bonus features on any of these discs, "Roger Moore as James Bond, circa 1964" (7:44), which is a very funny skit from '60s TV series "Mainly Millicent" that shows a younger Moore playing a less serious James Bond on vacation. Finally, "Live and Let Die Conceptual Art" (1:39) quickly shows a reel of marketing artwork for the film.

For Your Eyes Only starts off with two deleted scenes that are each introduced by John Glen. Together and with the introductions, they run 3:12. The deleted scenes have not been restored. Glen also introduces a scene ("Death of Locque", 0:43) that is available in its original form, an extended angle view, and a split-screen with both side-by-side. The red button on your Blu-ray player toggles between them. After that are "Bond in Greece" (5:58), "Bond in Cortina" (4:17), and "Neptune's Journey" (3:33). In these three odd featurettes, footage from the respective titular locations plays while producer Michael Wilson gives an audio commentary that is only sometimes related to what is seen.

Die Another Day features "From Script to Screen" (51:40), an interesting but dated time-of-release piece that contains some great interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. "Shaken and Stirred on Ice" (23:15) looks at the icy locale of the twentieth Bond film; it looks really great on Blu-ray. "Just Another Day" (22:39) looks at a helicopter stunt. "The British Touch: Bond Arrives in London" (3:32) covers the filming on an airplane set. Finally, there's "On Location with Peter Lamont" (13:51), Lamont being the longtime James Bond renaissance man who worked as a production designer on Die Another Day.

007 Mission Control

This section is pretty pointless and more of a headache than it's worth. The idea is that you can click on a topic and jump straight to a short clip within the movie that illustrates that topic. Each disc has the same sub-categories -- 007, Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual, and Q Branch -- with options inside differing. Several of the discs offer the gun barrel sequence or opening title sequence in "textless" form under the '007' heading.

There's also a short featurette presented in glorious HD called "Exotic Locations". The featurette recurs on each disc, looking at the respective settings and shooting locations for each movie. They run 2 to 5 minutes apiece.

Mission Dossier

This section is home to more substantial documentary-like bonuses. Dr. No starts with a recent and very well-made documentary entitled "Inside Dr. No" (42:10).
This also ranks up there as one of the better supplements found in the Blu-ray Collection. After that are two shorter featurettes entitled "Terence Young: Bond Vivant" (17:57), which is an homage to the director of three of the first four Bond movies, and "Dr. No 1963 Featurette" (8:40) which is time-of-release promotional piece.

From Russia with Love similarly offers "Inside From Russia with Love" (33:46), a retrospective documentary that is also quite good. That's followed by "Harry Saltzman: Showman" (26:42), which is a look at the important producer.

Thunderball includes "The Making of Thunderball" (27:34), "The Thunderball Phenomenon" (31:04), and "The Secret History of Thunderball (3:56). Together, these three form a great documentary look at the movie.

Live and Let Die starts with another inside look: "Inside Live and Let Die (29:47). That's followed by "On Set with Roger Moore: The Funeral Parade" (1:42) and "On Set with Roger Moore: Hang Gliding Lessons" (3:58), which are very short looks at Moore behind the scenes and the set-up of hang-gliding action, respectively.

For Your Eyes Only continues the trend with "Inside For Your Eyes Only" (29:48). After that are "Animated Storyboard Sequence - Snowmobile Chase" (1:14) and "Animated Storyboard Sequence - Underwater" (1:46), which are just what they sound like. That's capped off by Sheena Easton's music video for "For Your Eyes Only" (2:46), which basically repeats the film's opening title sequence, which is already available in "textless" form in the '007 Mission Control' area. I'm unsure as to why Fox pulled out extra stops for this lackluster theme song in particular.

'Mission Dossier' is probably the best part of any of these discs and it's the section to check out if you're just sampling the supplements (and most of it is in HD!). That makes it all the more disappointing that Die Another Day doesn't include a 'Mission Dossier'.

Ministry of Propaganda

Cleverly titled, 'Ministry of Propaganda' is where you'll find most of the publicity-related supplementary material. Each disc has a sub-section for a Theatrical Archive, TV Broadcasts, and Radio Communication. The radio material plays audio only while a cool-looking still screen is displayed.

Dr. No offers the theatrical trailer (3:23), three theatrical spots (7:34 using 'Play All'), two TV spots (1:23 using 'Play All'), and six radio spots (6:38). From Russia with Love also offers the theatrical trailer, entitled "S.P.E.C.T.R.E." (3:46), two theatrical spots (3:55), three TV spots (1:34), and three radio spots (1:38). Thunderball has three trailers/spots (8:24), five TV spots (3:31), and eleven radio spots (5:03). Live and Let Die serves up two trailers/spots (4:40), three TV spots (2:35), and two radio spots (1:35). For Your Eyes Only provides the theatrical trailer (3:49), three TV trailers/spots (11:46), and two radio spots (1:11).

Die Another Day does not include a 'Ministry of Propaganda' section. As such, there are maddeningly no trailers or related material available -- pretty inexcusable for such a recent movie when films that are decades older offer multiple of the same.

Image Database

Finally, each disc features an 'Image Database' menu, which contains multiple image galleries. The number of galleries are as follows: Dr. No (8), From Russia with Love (16), Thunderball (11), Live and Let Die (9), For Your Eyes Only (15), and Die Another Day (5).


Die Another Day reportedly includes two additional bonus features on BD-ROM: Madonna's "Die Another Day" music video and a "Ministry of Propaganda" photo gallery. Currently unequipped with a BD-ROM drive, I can't comment on these, except to say that the music video would have been cool to have in hi-def. It's unfortunate it wasn't included that way, especially since Die Another Day has so little to offer, comparatively.


All six discs employ the same menu scheme; a curvy woman points a gun provocatively while various scenes from the movie play in rotating circles that call to mind 007's famous gun barrel opening. A bit of Bond score plays in the background. Fox has employed its SmartMenu system, which it lists as a bonus feature (calling to mind the days when DVDs advertised "interactive menus" as bonuses). SmartMenu allows you to pull up the main menu in a sleek overlay during playback of the feature itself without any interruption. This makes toggling between commentary tracks and audio options especially easy.

A note on the menu options: Play is labeled as "Initiate Mission", scene selection as "Mission Selection", and languages as "Language Decryption". The "M16 Commentary" menu is separate from the rest of the "Special Features".

If you're buying the movies individually, each is packaged in a slimline blue keepcase with a cardboard slipcover over it. The slipcover repeats the cover art. Inside is a note about the potential need for a firmware upgrade for your Blu-ray player and an advertisement for other Blu-ray titles. Each slipcover dons a code for a free movie ticket for the upcoming Quantum of Solace. The sticker that you must pull off to receive your code (which is then entered online) is extremely hard to remove and leaves a complete mess on your slipcover.
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Given that and the ease with which dishonest shoppers could help themselves to a "free" Bond ticket without buying the movie should have prompted Fox to locate the code elsewhere. If you buy all six movies in the first wave, you'll have six codes (which means six attempts to successfully peel off the sticker)!

If you buy the movies in the Volume 1 or Volume 2 box set, then you'll receive three discs in each set (blue for Volume 1 and gold for Volume 2). As Fox supplied the individual cases for review, I can't comment further on the box set packaging except to say that it looks pretty cool. Each box set comes with a code that will get you two movie tickets each. So if you buy both volumes, you'll have four movie tickets.


Just as MI6 gave James Bond a license to kill, moviegoers have given him a license to repeat. Hollywood's longest-running film series has managed to rake in countless millions for decades despite relying on an action-heavy, story-light formula that has only recently been (moderately) shaken up with Casino Royale's franchise reboot. The first wave of Blu-ray Collections offers an even mix of highs and lows from the series.

The Blu-rays present supreme picture quality and a good hi-def audio mix (despite the dialogue's low volume levels). There's only one reason for those who already own the movies on DVD to upgrade: picture quality. That's reason enough, though. Those looking to make a first-time purchase might sample one disc at a time, as the movies certainly do not warrant a blind buy all at once. Of course, you probably already know if you're a Bond fan or not. For those who are, hours of worthwhile supplementary content and a first-rate presentation make this a no-brainer.

Buy the James Bond Blu-ray Collection from Amazon.com: Six-Pack (Volumes 1 & 2)
Volume 1 (Die Another Day, Live and Let Die, Dr. No) / Volume 2 (For Your Eyes Only, From Russia with Love, Thunderball)

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Reviewed October 29, 2008.

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