James Bond Blu-ray Volumes 1 & 2
Tuesday, October 21, was an amazing day if you're a fan of the James Bond movies; MGM, through their distributor Fox, released 6 of the 20 "true" Bond movies in their catalog on Blu-ray for the first time. The discs feature stunning high definition transfers of the movies alongside great bonus material. All the bonus material from the Special Edition DVDs, released 5 or 6 years ago, appear on these "Ultimate Editions," along with new bonus material. Here's a breakdown of the movies, and the content that can be found on them:

Dr. No - 1962 - Sean Connery as James Bond
Audio Commentary with Director Terence Young and members of the cast and crew | 007: License to Restore Featurette | The Guns of James Bond Featurette | Premiere Bond: Opening Nights Featurette | 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide into the World of Dr. No | Inside Doctor No | Terance Young: Bond Vivant Featurette | Dr. No 1963 Featurette | Image Database | Theatrical Trailers, TV and Radio Spots

From Russia With Love - 1963 - Sean Connery as James Bond
Audio Commentary with Director Terence Young and members of the cast and crew | Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview | Ian Fleming & Raymond Chandler Featurette | Ian Fleming on Desert Island Discs Featurette | Animated Storyboard Sequence | 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide into the World of From Russia With Love | Inside From Russia With Love | Harry Saltzman: Showman Featurette | Image Database | Theatrical Trailers, TV and Radio Spots

Thunderball - 1965 - Sean Connery as James Bond
Audio Commentary with Director Terance Young and Others | Image Database | Audio Commentary with Editor Peter Hunt, Co-Screenwriter John Hopkins and Others | Selling Bonds Original 1965 TV Commercials | On Location with Production Designer Ken Adam | A Child's Guide to Blowing Up a Motor Car 1965 Ford Promotional Film | Bill Suitor: The Rocket Man Movies Featurette | The Secret History of Thunderball Featurette | The Thunderball Boat Show Reel | The Making of Thunderball Featurette | Theatrical Trailers, TV and Radio Spots | The Thunderball Phenomenon | 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide into the World of Thunderball | The Incredible World of James Bond Original 1965 NBC-TV Special

Live and Let Die - 1973 - Roger Moore as James Bond
Audio Commentary with Sir Roger Moore | Audio Commentary with Director Guy Hamilton | Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz | Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary | Roger Moore as James Bond, Circa 1964 Featurette | Live and Let Di Conceptual Art | 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide into the World of Live and Let Die | Inside Live and Let Die Featurette | On Set with Roger Moore Featurettes | Image Database | Theatrical Trailers, TV and Radio Spots

For Your Eyes Only - 1981 - Roger Moore as James Bond
Audio Commentary with Director John Glen and Members of the Cast | Audio Commentary with Co-Screenwriter Michael G. Wilson and Crew Members | Audio Commentary with Sir Roger Moore | Deleted Scenes and Expanded Angles | Bond in Greece Featurette | Bond in Cortina Featurette | Neptune's Journey Featurette | 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide into the World of For Your Eyes Only | Inside For Your Eyes Only Featurette | Animated Storyboard Sequences | Image Database | Sheena Easton Music Video | Theatrical Trailers, TV and Radio Spots

Die Another Day - 2002 - Pierce Brosnan as James Bond
Audio Commentary with Actors Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike | Audio Commentary with Director Lee Tamahori and Producer Michael G. Wilson | MI6 Datastream Trivia Track | From Script to Screen | Shaken and Stirred on Ice Featurette | Just Another Day Featurette | The British Touch: Bond Arrives in London Featurette | On Location with Production Designer Peter Lamont Featurette | 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide into the World of Die Another Day | Image Database

These releases, also available on DVD, are absolutely packed with material. While some of the material appeared on the previous Special Edition DVDs, they've replaced footage from the movies with the new HD transfers so the main featurettes are now in HD. Those long-form featurettes give great insight into the production of the movie, and were one of my favorite pieces on the original Special Edition DVDs. These discs also include an "007 Mission Control Interactive Guide" for each movie, allowing you to quickly find scenes related to various characters, gadgets or locations.

The 1080p HD transfers of the movies are stunning thanks to the work of Lowry Digital Images. They use massive film scanners to scan each film frame at 4k (that's 4000 by 3000 pixels), with each frame taking 4 seconds to scan. A 110 minute movie, such as Dr. No would take 176 hours to digitize before it's sent off to be color corrected, and have any defects fixed. The "007: License to Restore" Featurette on Dr. No explains the process, and includes some before and after examples. I've never seen the Bond movies look this good before. Likewise, the audio is great. Featuring an English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless audio track for each release, alongside the original mixes for the movies, Bond has never sounded this good either.

Sony, the studio that owns the rights to release the Daniel Craig Bond movies, got in on "Bond Day" as well, releasing the 2-disc collector's edition of Casino Royale. If you love bonus material then you'll want to pick this up as it features all the previous extras from the Blu-ray release, plus tons more.

Casino Royale - 2006 - Daniel Craig as James Bond
Bonus View Picture-in-Picture Visual Commentary with Director and Producer | Crew Commentary | Know Your Double-O: The Ultimate James Bond Trivia Quiz | Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes | The Road to Casino Royale | Ian Fleming's Incredible Creation | James Bond in the Bahamas | Ian Fleming: The Secret Road to PAradise | Death in Venice | Becoming Bond Documentary | James Bond: For Real Documentary | Bond Girls are Forever (2006) | The Art of the Freerun | Catching a Plane: From Storyboard to Screen | Storyboard Sequence - Freerun Chase | Filmmaker Profiles | Music Video: Chris Cornell "You Know My Name"

Casino Royale is also a 1080p transfer, but the audio is an English Dolby True HD 5.1 track, not a lossless format like the MGM releases (it still sounds great). Each of the Bond Blu-ray discs includes e-Movie cash for up to $10.50 off a Quantum of Solace ticket when the movie opens on November 14.

If you're a fan of the Bond films then you should consider adding these to your collection; they're the best versions of the movies available, and look absolutely stunning in HD.

What's your favorite Bond movie?

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