Ultimate James Bond Collection, The
Release Date(s)1962-2015 (September 15, 2015)
Studio(s)EON/UA/MGM/Columbia (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: A-
- Overall Grade: A-
As longtime movie disc enthusiasts know, the impending release of a new James Bond film virtually guarantees one thing: A new re-release of all the previous Bond films on disc. With the twenty-fourth film in the series, SPECTRE, set to arrive in theaters on November 6th, Fox’s has acted accordingly by releasing the new The Ultimate James Bond Collection Blu-ray box set as an Amazon.com and Fox Shop exclusive.
Anyone who owns (or has seen) Fox’s previous Bond 50 Blu-ray collection might reasonably ask: “What could Fox possibly add to a new Blu-ray box set that we don’t already have?” This review will attempt to answer that question for you.
As you’d expect, all twenty-three previous films in this series have been included here, in Blu-ray versions identical to those included in the Bond 50 set. They include: Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), Licence to Kill (1989), GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), and Skyfall (2012).
As with Bond 50, the highlight of this set is an exclusive Bonus Disc, but not the same one. It includes some new content, the centerpiece of which is – at long last – the feature-length documentary Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 directed by Stevan Riley (98 minutes). This was produced in 2012 and released in the UK on DVD in the run-up to Skyfall. It played here in the States on cable and Netflix, but went unreleased on disc. Thankfully, it’s presented here on Blu-ray for the first time in full 1080p HD. It’s a really terrific piece of work. It details the origins of Ian Fleming’s creation, the early history and inspirations for the character, his difficult journey to the screen, the various rights disputes, all the various efforts to cast new Bonds over the years, and the twists and turns the franchise has taken in response to the changing times. New interviews with virtually every key participant are included, save for Sean Connery and those key figures no longer living, and they’re represented by archival interview footage. The documentary is fantastic. If you’re a fan of this classic film series, I can’t imagine a more interesting look at its history.
Also newly-produced for this set (and included here) are The Shadow of SPECTRE (8:41) and The Story So Far (10:22) featurettes. In the first, current Bond screenwriters Robert Wade and Neil Purvis discuss all the Bond films in which SPECTRE has played a role and talk about the organization itself. In the second, they run down a basic plot summary of the Daniel Craig Bond films thus far. Both featurettes are obviously designed to catch people up in time for the new film.
From here, the Bonus Disc also offers a collection of additional featurettes, most of which were included on the previous Bond 50 set’s Bonus Disc. There’s Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style (4 minutes) which offers a quick look at a recent Bond design exposition of props, costumes, and production artwork. Being Bond (3:08) features short interview clips of each of the Bond actors talking about what it means to play the character. World of Bond is its own archive containing the complete Title Sequences for every film in the series in full HD (66 minutes in all), plus a look at the series’ Gadgets (3:03), Villains (2:22), Bond Girls (1:24), Locations (1:40), and Bond in Motion (i.e. cars and special vehicles – 1:43).
But (and this is a key point) missing from this Bonus Disc are the 6 Skyfall Video Blog featurettes that were included on the Bond 50 set’s Bonus Disc. Presumably, they were omitted for disc space reasons, but it’s a real shame to lose them (note that they have not been added to the Skyfall BD in this set). It’s also worth nothing that this set continues to omit a some of the legacy Die Another Day DVD features (listed here in our previous Blu-ray review) and some of the 2-disc Casino Royale: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray features (listed here), which means this set isn’t truly the “ultimate” box it claims to be.
All of this set’s discs come packaged in a very nice and sturdy slipcase, inside of which are a trio of blue plastic multi-disc Blu-ray cases. The first contains all the films from 1962 to 1977, the second contains the films from 1978 to 2002, and the final case contains the Craig films from 2006 to 2015 as well as the Bonus Disc. In a nice touch, this last case also includes an empty spot to add SPECTRE when it’s released on Blu-ray in 2016. The set also includes a paper slip with a code that allows you to access UltraViolet digital copies of all the films, and there’s a 52-page mini paperback that’s an excerpted edition of DK’s James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters book. It includes a pair of poster images for each film, with limited liner notes.
The loss of a bit of bonus content, as well as the continued omission of other legacy content, is a bit disappointing. Still, if you don’t already own Bond 50, this is a damn fine package. It packs a great deal of 007 entertainment (the complete official filmography and a huge archive of bonus content) into a very nice and compact package indeed. It’s more expensive than Bond 50, so you have to decide whether Everything or Nothing, the two new SPECTRE-related featurettes, the poster book, the HD digital copies of all the films, and the more compact packaging are worth the price difference. On the whole, I think this is a pretty terrific Blu-ray box set, but your own mileage will vary.
- Bill Hunt