James Bond: Ultimate Edition review, James Bond: Ultimate Edition DVD
Starring
Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan
Director
Various
James Bond - Ultimate Edition: Volumes 1- 4

Reviewed by Jason Zingale

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et’s get one thing straight: this critic does not support the annoyance that is the DVD double-dip. With two or more releases of several classic films currently on the market, it can become quite a bear on the consumer’s wallet to continuously repurchase new versions of their favorite films simply for an improved digital transfer, added special feature or even worse, nothing at all. In spite of being against this sort of greedy behavior, however, it would be positively careless of me not to recommend the new, four-volume ultimate edition of the popular James Bond series, which isn’t necessarily overdue for a digital rebirth (a similar set was released in 1999), but is so well done that it will likely top the wish list of every fan.

The first thing that you’ll notice when watching these films again – especially the old Connery ones – are just how darn good they look now that they’ve been digitally re-mastered. Thanks to the guys over at Lowry Digital (who were given the original camera negatives for all twenty Bond flicks), “Dr. No” may still appear to be taking place in the 60s (you can’t escape fashion trends), but the film looks like it was shot today. The colors are crisper, and every tarnished scene has been fixed, with all of the dirt, scratches, tears and even gate hairs that used to plague current prints no longer an issue.

Along with new and improved video transfers, each movie is given the two-disc treatment featuring all of the bonus material that appeared on the ’99 set (including a director audio commentary for every film), as well as additional special features like making-of featurettes (“Mission Dossier”), updated interviews and stunt featurettes (“Declassified: MI6 Vault”), and an interactive guide highlighting the villains, women, gadgets, locations and more (“007 Mission Control”). Each two-disc set is also supplemented with a six-page insert booklet that covers everything from the state of the world at the time of the film’s theatrical release (“World of Bond”), to the process of the digital restoration that the film went through in readying the new transfer. The latter subject is also discussed in full (with visual examples) by the Lowry Digital team on the “Dr. No” special feature, “007: License to Restore.”

Unfortunately, while there’s really no question as to how great these DVDs are, the manner in which they’re presented is certainly open for discussion. What’s the big problem, you ask? Well, the films haven’t been released in chronological order. Instead, Fox seems perfectly content with delivering grab bag-like volumes where several actors playing the role of Bond are represented. For purists, this is truly annoying, and for those that only like one specific Bond will certainly be irked by the idea that they’ll have to buy all four volumes to own the re-mastered versions of their favorite films. And if you take in to account that this minor setback is the only thing keeping the “James Bond Ultimate Edition” from receiving perfect marks, you can’t help but ask, “Why, Fox?”

Despite this dispute over why exactly certain films were packaged in certain volumes, it’s hard to deny this new Bond collection as not only the best DVD treatment the franchise has ever received, but also one of the best DVD collections of the year.

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