James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 1 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dr. No:Dr. No
arrives on Blu-ray in full 1080p looking pretty darn stunning. MGM has given the movie the full AVC Mpeg-4 treatment and has preserved the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.66:1. It should be noted that the black bars on the sides of the picture are normal and represent the correct "pillarbox" configuration for films that are presented in this aspect ratio. So, there's no need to adjust your set. Dr. No
is, at this point, a 46 year old film, so I wasn't expecting its visual presentation to resemble anything even close to some of Bond's more recent screen adventures. Surprisingly, the film has held up quite well and, despite its age, Dr. No
looks refreshingly clean and pristine. MGM utilized the Lowry process to restore the film and the results speak for themselves.
This remarkable Blu-ray presentation is satisfyingly free of any annoying digital picture anomalies like edge enhancement, macroblocking or noise. There is a slight amount of natural film grain present, but it is consistent with what should be present in films from the same era. Black levels and contrast are also surprisingly strong if not quite as deep and refined as those of newer films. Detail is also better than expected with individual grains of sand visible in the film's many beach shots. Perhaps the best part of Dr. No's
video presentation lies in the disc's amazing color reproduction. This is a much more colorful film that I remembered and the wide color palette of the Jamaican locations just about leaps off of the screen. All told, I'm thrilled with Dr. No
on Blu-ray. I can't imagine the film looking any better!Live and Let DieLive and Let Die
comes to Blu-ray looking better than ever. The film was restored using the Lowry digital restoration process and has made the transition to 1080p , by way of AVC Mpeg-4 encoding, in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It's amazing to see a 35 year old film look so completely fresh and detailed. Contrast is excellent throughout the presentation with ample shadow details and deep blacks. Fine detail is impeccably preserved and gives Live and Let Die
a look that belies the film's actual age. Colors are also richly saturated, with vibrant reds and blues that give the film a strikingly flamboyant color palette. Pervious versions of the film on home video have not done justice to the excellent photography on display in Live and Let Die
Grain is present in levels appropriate to a film of this age. Noise never interferes nor do the effects of any kind of noise reduction. Live and Let Die
simply looks as it should. Digital nasties don't rear their heads her either. I didn't detect a hint of edge enhancement, haloes, macroblocking or banding. All told, this is a spectacular transfer that shows how older films can fare well in the high definition arena if restored properly. Highly recommended!
Die Another DayDie Another Day
makes its Blu-ray debut from MGM featuring a nice 1080p transfer utilizing the AVC Mpeg-4 compression codec. The film's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 has been perfectly preserved and the Blu-ray edition is a vast improvement over the seriously flawed DVD versions of the film that had been previously released. Previously releases had been rife with macroblocking and abundant edge enhancement. Those issues are gone, for the most part, on Blu-ray, but the results still leave a little to be desired.
First, the good: Die Another Day
looks sharp, detailed and has excellent contrast and black levels. As a matter of fact, the film, as a whole, is very pleasing from a visual standpoint. Black levels were particularly impressive and color fidelity was always vivid and accurate. Unfortunately, there is still a hint of edge enhancement that is noticeable throughout the film. It's only occasionally distracting. This begs the question: was it intentional? Many filmmakers are sharpening films in post-production these days. Could Die Another Day
be one of those films? I'll leave that for you to decide, but rest assured that despite this potential flaw, Die Another Day
looks pretty darn good on Blu-ray.
James Bond Blu-ray Collection: Volume 1 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Much like the video portion of the film, Dr. No
has been given a major overhaul in the audio department as well. Presented in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, the movie sounds amazing while simultaneously showing the limits of early sixties sound recording techniques. Much of the dialogue in Dr. No
has a decidedly tinny sound to it. In fact, much of the movie has that same effect. Conversely, the film's musical score sounds like it might have been recorded yesterday and often leaps out of the speakers with a fidelity far outpacing that of what was recorded on location.
The sound remix on this Blu-ray edition does a fine job of working with the movie's limited source material. There is a surprisingly large amount of directional surround activity in the mix and the aforementioned musical score is well placed. Dialogue is also well presented while still retaining the tinny nature of its original format. In the end, the craftsmen who have created this high definition surround mix have done a masterful job of taking extremely limited source material and breathing new life into it. Even the most surround-happy sound fanatic will doubtlessly be pleased.Live and Let Die:
Unfortunately, no level of lossless encoding can help a soundtrack that is poorly recorded. Live and Let Die
suffers from an an abundance of audio issues that this 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio track just can't correct. Dialogue is poorly recorded, leaving scenes sounding muted and incomprehensible and sound effects suffer by like the were recoded inside a tin shack. It's clear that those involved in remixing this track were hampered by bad source material that just couldn't be improved upon. About the only bright spot in this mix is the music. It was obviously recorded with a lot more care and attention to proper fidelity - - exactly what one would expect from Paul McCartney and George Martin. Live and Let Die
also includes the original mono soundtrack that was featured during the film's theatrical exhibition. It suffers from the same problems as the DTS track, but neuters the musical score. You're probably better off sticking with the lossless track, but don't expect for the folks at MGM to have magically turned older material that was recorded poorly into anything even close to a modern surround track.
Die Another Day:
On the sonic front, Die Another Day
is a powerhouse. The film's DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track is active, alive and absolutely rocking. For a film that places such an emphasis on over-the-top action sequences, nothing but the finest sound design could have even begun to sell this movie. Fortuantely, it delivers in spades.
Surround activity is insanely active in Die Another Day
with explosions and weapons fire ricocheting around the listening room. Low bass is also abundant with frequent subwoofer action that will shake your entire room. Dialogue is well presented and intelligible. Ultimately, this is a top tier audio experience that the film is totally unworthy of!