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Over the last five decades, few fictional characters have become as popular or as ubiquitous as James Bond. He’s been the subject of novels, films, television specials, parodies and countless numbers of arguments. Now, he’s the proud of owner of arguably the most exhaustive, meticulously poured over and sweetest Blu-ray collection of the year. Whether at full price or on sale, the set will set you back, but as 007 himself knows full well, refined elegance is worth shelling out for.
Midway through production of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, George Lazenby decided he didn’t want to play James Bond anymore. The year was 1969, and the Australian and his agent were both convinced the generation of politically active protesters and peace and love enthusiasts would get bored with the secret agent. So, he quit after the credits rolled and over the last forty-three years, has discovered how profoundly incorrect his theory was. The character of James Bond galloped along without him, probably because the dashing secret agent is bigger than any one actor. He’s bigger than any one villain, and bigger than any one gadget, beautiful woman or exotic location. The MI6 operative is an ever-evolving ideal that caters himself to the sensibilities of a changing world.
That’s the key to James Bond’s success, really. All of his main interests are eternal. It’s not that he likes blond-haired pilots or dark haired Russian programmers, he likes beautiful women, no matter how they might look. It’s not that he likes Aston Martins or Bentleys or Mercedes Benzes, he likes high-powered, well built and fast automobiles, no matter what the brand. It’s not that he’s obsessed with protecting American rockets in space or locating missile command systems, he’s just into fixing whatever problems come up, no matter who is causing them. He’s a broad and brilliant suit, and during each of his twenty-two Eon produced turns at bat, his specifics have been filled in through a collaboration between the director, the actor and the screenwriter, as well as the worries, fears, goals, lusts and viewpoints of the larger society.
Over the next five decades, this same process will happen over and over again. If someone invents a flying motorcycle, Bond will chase the bastard down with one of his own. If Iceland begins to threaten world peace, James will bed half the women on the island in the name of diplomatic relations. This constant give and take will never stop as long as Bond movies are being created, and if the time is taken to do them right, there’s no reason why they should ever get old. James Bond is us, or at least what we would like someone among us to be, and that was just as true for Sean Connery’s rugged confidence and punchy sense of humor in the 1960s as it’s been for Daniel Craig’s in-the-moment intensity over the past few years.
There are few characters in the world that movie fans would be willing to watch twenty-two times. James Bond is one of them, and if ever proof was needed, it’s found in MGM/ 20th Century Fox’s new box set, Bond 50. Featuring all twenty-two films (that vary in quality between legitimately awesome and me), the collection is probably worth buying merely to see all of 007’s output but is definitely worth buying thanks to untold hours of special features and a ton of clever and very appreciated details.
If you want to know how much thought has been put into Bond 50, look no further than the number of slots the set contains. There are twenty-two movies and twenty-four slots. The last one is filled with a disc of bonus features that apply to the entire series, and the second to last one is for Skyfall. When the movie is released on Blu-ray in a year or so, anyone who bought the set can simply buy Skyfall and plug it in without having one weirdo box sitting by itself on the shelf. It’s a minor touch, but it’s one the makers didn’t have to include.
From commentaries to TV spots to interviews to theatrical trailers, Bond 50 goes the extra mile for each and every one of its films. Even better, the set offers an entire disc that exclusively speaks to how the series has evolved over the years. Want to watch every credit sequence? Do it in order or choose your favorite from an easy to navigate menu. Want to check out the women Bond has loved? There’s a punchy and visually appealing special feature that shows all of them in a random order. Can’t figure out who one of them is? You can bring up an ordered list. If you’re more interested in the gadgets, the villains or the locations, there are features for those too. None of them are overly long, but they’re all meticulous and wonderfully put together.
Bond 50 is everything a fan could possibly want. It gives each one of the films the individualized attention they would have gotten had they been released on their own, and brings them together amidst sleek and beautiful artwork. The menus are easy to navigate and classy. The large, rectangular holder is sturdy and eye-catching. It’s all top notch and befitting Britain’s greatest secret agent. If you think the set might be worth the money, I can promise you it is. If you can’t imagine anyone spending this much money on one film series, I can only advise you rewatch From Russia With Love and fall in love again.
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