Review: Bond 50 Blu Ray Boxed Set

Thanks to the folks at shipping their Monday releases early, we were able to get our hands on the eagerly awaited Bond 50 blu ray boxed set a full two days before its September 24th release date.

A more comprehensive review of the set will likely be forthcoming, but here are some initial impressions for anyone who’s undecided about buying the set.

The Packaging
The sturdy cardboard slip case contains two sturdy hardcover books which hold the discs for the films. The first carries the discs from all the movies from 1962 – 1981, with the other book holding the films from 1983 to 2012 (there’s an empty slot for Skyfall when it comes out) and the bonus disc.

There are two films per page (slots are cut into the page with some sort of liner material on the part in contact with the disc) with the left-hand facing page offering a montage of images from the films – there are no liner notes or text.

The packaging is fairly nice, however getting the discs out of the books – especially the ones near the spine is a little tricky, requiring you to hold both page and the cover at the same time to stop the cover from bending back on itself. It’s not the worst I’ve seen but it is slightly annoying.

The Discs
Having popped a few of the discs in for a preview – the first thing I noticed is that the animated menus for the discs are identical to those in the old DVD ultimate edition. Extras on the films also appear to be identical to the ultimate edition. The discs appear to be region free.

On the plus side, the transfers do look quite nice – especially on some of the Connery Bonds with strong detail and vibrant colours. I’m not sure if these are new transfers, but given that this release appears to be little more than an HD upgrade of the ultimate edition it’s likely that they are the same as the previous blu ray releases. That said, the films do look and sound wonderful so if you are after the best home video presentation of Bond – this is most definitely it.

The Bonus Disc
Considering that this is Bond’s 50th anniversary year, you could be forgiven for expecting a little more from this release than an HD retread of the old Ultimate Editions. However, that said the bonus disc is frankly a disappointment.

Clearly intended to promote Skyfall, what you get are a collection of short featurette documentaries on the production of the new Bond film (no more than 3-4 minutes apiece), all of which are available online.

There are some new documentaries which are promoted on the notes on the back of the box:

  • Being Bond: All six actors who have played the legendary 007 are brought together through fascinating and revealing interviews.

  • Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style – a unique showcase of key moments in Bond history that reflects on the changing design and styles of the last 50 years.

These new documentaries only amount to about 3 minutes of run time each and are cobbled together from archive sources, so there’s nothing really new. There’s certainly nothing that will make you give them a second viewing – unlike the excellent ‘making of’ documentaries narrated by Patrick MacNee which are on the discs of the films.

The only other feature on the disc is World of Bond, which seems to be little more than a collection of montage clips from the films (each amounting to about 2 or 3 minutes each) under different categories (vehicles, gadgets, villains etcs), along with a scene list of time codes for where you can find them in the movies. As with the new documentaries, there’s very little here that’s going to make you come back to this material.

The possible exception to this is that you now have the option of watching all of the title sequences from the films in sequence. It’s interesting, but hard to see why anyone would want to do this.

For £90, you get the best presentation of all 22 Bond films to date and at £4 a film it’s hard to really argue about the price. However if you were expecting a little more in the extras department (such as isolated scores) to celebrate 007’s fiftieth anniversary, you’re probably going to be a little disappointed.

At the end of the day it will come down to how much you want those HD transfers and how bothered you are about a bonus disc that’s little more than a marketing ploy.

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