The Ultimate Edition Bond films released in 2006 were all digitally remastered and, in nine cases, meticulously restored with high definition transfers and DTS 5.1 surround sound, so it was only a matter of time before they arrived in full HD on Blu-ray. The first six releases offer three very different Bonds, with a trio of Connery’s early outings (Dr No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball) joined by Roger Moore’s first stab at the role (Live and Let Die), his early eighties effort For Your Eyes Only, and Pierce Brosnan’s anticlimactic swansong Die Another Day – which, in some odd way, has dated more than the other, older films. (The far superior Goldeneye would have been a more logical inclusion.) Aside from the picture and sound cleanup, HD doesn’t do the older films many favours – the process shots, for instance, yank you right out of the action – and if your DVD player can already ‘up-rez’, there’s really no need to replace your collection yet again. Dyed-in-the-wool Bond fans with a Blu-ray player among their gadgets will, however, be in 007th heaven.
EXTRAS: Kudos to MGM for cramming the Ultimate Editions’ many extras onto the new discs: Dr No’s highlight is a fascinating documentary detailing the restoration and clean-up process which, as chief ‘restorateur’ John Lowry says, makes “films that were shot in the sixties look like they are only set in the sixties.” Archive materials range from the sublime (deleted scenes) to the ridiculous (Roger Moore playing Bond in a TV skit from 1964), there are director commentaries on all six titles, and both Live and Let Die and For Your Eyes Only come with wry, witty Roger Moore yack tracks. None of the previously-available extras omitted from the Ultimate Editions have been restored to the Die Another Day disc, but the copious content already feels exhaustive.