Dr. No [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - MGM Home Entertainment/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (18th November 2008).
The Film

When Daniel Craig took over the franchise, there were some rumblings about how he wasn't really sophisticated and that he didn't have any gadgets. Well, in 'Dr. No', Bond is a bit rough around the edges he doesn't mind tussling with bad guys and is completely gadgetless, relying on his Walther PPK pistol to help him fight his enemies. 'Dr. No', being the first Bond movie made is unsurprisingly somewhat an experiment, still finding out who Bond is and trying to understand his style.

The end result is that this isn't a Bond movie in the sense that we've come to know. It's more of a detective story with James Bond in it. The plot is this: a few MI6 operatives disappear in Jamaica, so Bond is brought in to see what happened. The movie moves at a leisurely pace, building slowly. The payoff isn't as great as some other Bond movies, but this was the first one, and the budget was only a measly $1 million. (For comparison, 'Spartacus' came out two years before this one, and had the highest budget ever for that time at $12 million. 'Cleopatra' came out in 1963 and had a budget of $44 million (which was the highest budget ever at that time). 'From Russia with Love' had twice the budget 'Dr. No' had and 'Goldfinger', three times.)

The plot is deathly simple compared to other Bond movies that came after it (just take a look at 'The World Is Not Enough', or even 'From Russia with Love', the very next Bond flick.). That isn't a bad thing, though. It makes it easy to understand. This was the first James Bond movie, so Sean Connery didn't really know exactly who Bond was. In 'Goldfinger' he became the James Bond. I think that 'Dr. No' was more of an experiment, testing out the waters of the spy genre. Once it became insanely popular, then he and director Terence Young became more certain of what to do. There may not be as much action as later Bond movies, but that just makes everything concentrate on the plot and the characters.

Women are a plaything for Bond. It's noticeable right away. It was the spirit of the times and I wasn't there, so I won't comment more on that. It's funny seeing that now. However, his taste is women can't really be questioned. How much more tasteful can you get than with Ursula Andress stepping out of the blue sea? It's now a classic scene in movie history, and set the stage perfectly for later Bond movies.

Even if this isn't the best Bond movie, you can still see nods to this movie everywhere. The spider scene was taken to silly heights in the 'Get Smart' series (as were many other moments, come to think of it). I don't have to say how many jokes in the Austin Powers movies that spoof this one. Even later Bond flicks like 'Licence to Kill' and 'Die Another Day' make reference to this movie in various ways. All in all a good first effort. Don't expect the world, but expect to be entertained nonetheless.

Video

1.66:1 widescreen, using the MPEG4/AVC codec. MGM has done a wonderful job restoring these Bond movies, and this is probably the one that is the best example of this. The print is wonderfully clear and with a nice amount of detail. There's film grain, though its never too heavy or too light. Grain also never gives way to noise, with the exception of one scene (the shower sequence in Dr. No's lair). The compression is also very good, with no edge enhancement to be seen. Colours are also very strong, though colours may be a bit low. However, they're accurate, and the black levels are nice, with a good amount of shadow detail. Skin tones have all the right hues and never appear too red or too white. It's a great piece of work for movies that definitely deserve good work.

Audio

The movie has a few audio options for viewers. The main track is a brand new English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, though purists will be happy to know that the original English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is also included. There are also dubs in French (Dolby Digital 5.1) and Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono) for those who require them. The lossless track is overall an accurate upmix of the mono track. Most of the dialogue and other sound effects come from the centre speaker, though heftier sound are widened with the use of the fronts. There are some environmental sounds such as waves and people talking coming from the rear speakers, but many times these are only in the front. The iconic score is clear, as well, though seems very slightly muffled compared to the music of the newer Bond movies. Likewise, the dialogue, to my ears, seems mixed in a bit low, especially when action going around. However, the volume levels are pretty good, giving the movie a decent sound field. Overall, its a good mix, sure to please.
English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

MGM ports over all the extras from the Ultimate Editions. First up is an audio commentary by director Terence Young and cast and crew. This is obviously spliced together from various interviews taken at various times. It's interesting but it's not very lively. Commentary moderator (and Ian Fleming Foundation president) John Cork himself starts out very formal and dry. He fills in the transitions between interviews and gives out some information about some of the actors' history (like that Sean Connery and Ursula Andress). An interesting little fact, I find, is the production designer had about 20 000 out of a total budget of 300 000. Mrs. Andress also gives out a funny little story: she and Mr. Connery had to learn a song for the movie. They had one record player where they were staying so they kept stealing each other's record player so they could learn that song. All the information is kind of general as to what the people wanted to accomplish and the like. Everybody eventually gives their impressions of everybody else. It's interesting to listen to but I probably won't listen to it again.

The disc is divided into various sections, each with the extras in them. The first section is Top Level Access, which only contains the 07: Licence to Restore featurette (11:56). It tracks Lowry Digital's work in taking the movies and restoring them. Various people give various examples, while you see the before-and-after comparisons. They explain how they do their job, as well. All I can say is that they did a great job, however they did it.

Declassified: MI6 Vault has the period featurette The Guns of James Bond (5:06), where you see a weapons expert talking about how he contacted Ian Fleming after reading 'Casino Royale' and advised himn on Bond's weapons. He then shows you a few guns and tells you about the reasons you would use these weapons. It's a bit cheesy, but a nice inclusion. Premiere Bond: Opening Nights (13:09) is more interesting. Michael G. Wilson tracks every opening night of every Bond movie made (minus 'Never Say Never Again', of course), telling you the dates, the locations and the stars and royalty attending these premieres. It's very nice to watch. Credits (1:48) are just that, telling you who worked on the extras.

The 007 Mission Control feature is nothing more than a scene selection tool based on the following topics: '007', 'Women', 'Allies', 'Villains', 'Mission Combat Manual', 'Q Branch' and 'Exotic Locations'.

The Mission Dossier has a few featurettes 'Inside "Dr. No"' (42:07) is a great look at the making of the movie. It tracks the attempts to bring the book to the screen, until it was successfully done. It also talks about choosing Bond, the tailors, the style of the movie and various other things. It's a terrific watch. 'Terence Young: Bond Vivant' (17:55) is all about how Mr. Young brought his style and refinement to the movies he directed. It's, again, informative and great to watch. The '"Dr. No" 1963 Featurette' is a bit less interesting, though still fun to watch, if only to see how marketing has changed (or stayed the same) since that time. Mr. Connery mostly talks about being Bond and various other aspects of the movie.

The Ministry of Propaganda section has advertising for the movie. A Theatrical Archive has a 'Theatrical Trailer' (3:23), 'Introducing Mr. Bond' (3:15), 'James Bond is Back to Back in "Dr. No" and "From Russia with Love"' (2:00) and 'James Bond Face to Face with "Dr. No" and "Goldfinger"' (2:19). Some TV Broadcasts are also here, 'Miss Honey and Miss Galore Have James Bond Back for More' (1:01) and 'Miss Honey and Miss Galore' (0:22). Radio Communication has 'Beautiful Nature Girl' (1:03), 'Dr. No, a Madman with a Fantastic Secret' (1:09), 'James bond, the Indestructible Ace Undercover Agent' (1:02), 'Meet James Bond, Ace Undercover Agent' (0:53), 'On the Edge of Your Seat' (1:13) and 'Come On Out, We Know Youre There' (1:03).

Lastly is an Image Database with galleries called 'The Filmmakers', 'Portraits', 'Jamaica', 'Pinewood', 'The Lost Scene', 'Ian Fleming Jamaica', 'Ian Fleming Pinewood' and 'Around the World with 007'. They're pretty complete and worth seeing at least once.

Overall

The Film: B Video: B+ Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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