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James Bond - Ultimate Collection
on 27 January 2007
My review of this set will not look at the films individually in-depth, as Bond is very much a marmite thing - people either love it or hate it. I personally find these films very enjoyable. I like the Connery films for their old-school storylines, I like Lazenby's film because although he was a weak Bond, he did star in one of the most emotionally powerful Bond films ever (with a knockout, very unconventional ending). I like the Roger Moore films as they were just there for fun, escapist entertainment, and they served that function well. Timothy Dalton brought a harder edge to the side of James Bond and was the closest to a ruthless, cold-blooded assassin until Daniel Craig got into the tuxedo. Pearce Brosnan made some of the best Bond films, aside from of course Die Another Day, which is perhaps a bit too far-fetched for its own good.
Yes, this set is missing Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, but my personal feeling is that this set is complete, given that all of these films are made in a similar way and show the evolution of Bond from one film to another through a number of different actors, but are all respectful of what came before. Casino Royale is an excellent film, but is a completely different, younger Bond, so I consider it to be separate from this collection.
Anyway, what you get in this collection is stunning. I just finished watching Dr No, and I have to say, the visual and audio restoration make it look and sound as though it was made yesterday rather than yesteryear! Special effects aside (which are always going to show a film's age) these films have never looked better. Also, Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies are uncut for the first time in the UK, as certain moments of violence had to be cut for their theatrical releases.
You also get 1 disc of extras for each film, and they are extremely insightful, thorough documentaries, commentaries, trailers, countless deleted scenes and still galleries. Some of these documentaries were made at the time of release for promotional purposes and thus give a wonderful insight to the time of release for some of the older films, and other documentaries take a more retrospective look at the films. It's interesting to look at how the filmmakers viewed a film at the time, and how they view it now.
Also, the packaging for each of the releases is wonderful, but a special mention must go to the packaging for the case as a whole. It's a wonderful, sturdy case with pictures from each of the films in order on the cover. The top flips up to release the individual cases stacked in 4 piles of 5, with straps to assist with removing them easily. All this slips inside a wonderfully minimalistic and stylish silver cover with the 007 logo on the front.
As for comments about this set losing its value because of the release of Casino Royale and future Bond films on DVD, firstly as I mentioned earlier, Casino Royale is seen by myself and many others as separate from the 20 films in here, so to some extent, this set does represent a definitive collection. Secondly, I previously owned all 20 of these films in their single-disc special edition formats (aside from Die Another Day, which was a 2-disc special edition) and was able to get a great price for them on eBay when I heard these Ultimate Editions were coming out. I actually got the same amount of money for the old versions to cover the cost of this new set, so I would say that if you can get the right price for this (some stores are selling it for £99.99) then it won't lose it's value much at all. Buy it, and enjoy it. It's certainly one of the crowning jewels of my DVD library!