It is now more than six months since the James Bond Ultimate Edition DVD collection was released in the UK, which has given more than enough time to have the chance to watch the films and documentaries. If you’re lucky enough to have gone for the full set of disks in the attache case then you already know what a nice package it is , although it should be noted that it is a presentation case and not sturdy enough to survive being used on a daily basis.
The first thing to say about the films is that the difference in picture quality really is remarkable. The images have been digitally cleaned up to remove dirt and the colour enhanced. Here is where I have a problem with the early films in particular, as for me the red is far too strong – witness Quarrel’s t-shirt it Dr No, which seems incandescent. Otherwise the clarity of the images really is extraordinary.
One thing that has proved slightly controversial amonst some people is the addition of Dolby surround sound tracks to this release, without providing the original soundtrack on the DVD. In fact the addition of surround sound does make a big impact, particularly since we’re much more used to having Dolby at both the cinema and now at home. Upgrading seems to make entire sense and both the music score and action scenes in particular benefit from the enhancement compared with previous DVD collections, although why Sony felt it necessary to feature an advert at the beginning of each disk promoting the Ultimate Editions doesn’t seem to make much sense.
Another area that the Ultimate Edition DVD collection benefits is the quality of the extras, including some completely new material from the archives, as well as documentaries and “making of” shorts. The quality of these extras is to a very high standard and for some of the weaker Bond films in the collection – think Octopussy or A View to a Kill – the extras alone justify ownership. Perhaps some of the strongest material is on the early disks, which deal with the restoration process, Ian Fleming and the Bond phenomenon, but there are many good documentaries dealing with stunts, production design and other aspects of the filming process.
This new James Bond DVD collection has since been released in the United States and other countries and is a must have for any serious Bond fan. I’d definitely recommend the full set with attache case, but regular sources sold out months ago and the prices on eBay are predictably high.