There are only 24 weeks left until Spectre hits theaters, so join us as we review all 24 Bond films in the weeks leading up to the big day! We start with Dr. No, the world’s introduction to that smooth secret agent that we’ve all come to know and love.
The Movie Itself (4/5):
“Bond, James Bond.” One of the most famous movie lines of all time. It started with Dr. No, in 1962. Sean Connery stars in one of the most iconic spy movies ever, which kicked off a series that is now 24 films strong, and still going.
Dr. No introduces us to James Bond as he is sent to Jamaica to investigate the sudden disappearance of a colleague. Soon he joins forces with a CIA operative and begins to uncover a dastardly plot by the mysterious Dr. No to cause havoc during an upcoming American space launch.
Since the movie takes place in the Carribbean, there is some pretty breathtaking scenery. Tropical beaches, ocean sailing, mountain driving, and club lounging are some of the vistas that Bond will find himself in as he discovers the truth of Crab Island.
Gun fights, explosions, car chasing, and beautiful women are only a fraction of the things that Bond encounters throughout the film. Connery does a good job of making you believe that Bond is actually experiencing all of these things, which is nice, given that a lot of movies shot in this time felt very much like movies. This is probably one of the bigger reasons that this series really took off; you actually feel like Bond is a real person throughout.
I would have liked to have seen more of Dr. No’s underwater lair, and perhaps had a bit more of the bout between him and Bond. In the end, the big showdown seemed a little short and lackluster. But I suppose not all evil villains bent on world domination can be all that competent, right?
The only other major downside to this film is how it falls short of aging well. Action and gun play scenes are almost comically bad given what we see today. Some of the driving scenes are very obviously stationary with green screen action added in. Also, the way women are treated will leave some with a sense of distaste. All in all, it is a product of it’s times, and you won’t be able to forget that throughout the play through.
It’s very cool, however, to watch this movie after the years and point out all of the bits and pieces that have been borrowed and parodied time and time again since. Practically every spy movie owes some credit to this film, while others, like the Austin Powers films, take these once novel details and spin them into hilarious cliche. There is no doubt that this is a classic film.
In the end, this movie sets the pace for the series, which has it’s ups and downs. For the most part, this one is pretty good, and certainly worth the watch.
Video Quality (4.5/5):
This film is over fifty years old, and has had numerous releases. Having been handled so much, the film stock should be in really poor shape, but surprisingly, it has survived, and the good folks at MGM did their fans the immense service of having the original film negatives expertly restored in 4k. It baffles me how great this film looks on screen after all these years. The amount of detail and color is nothing short of astounding. While it can’t match the quality of films today, this is definitely one of the best restorations I’ve ever seen, and absolutely warrants an upgrade if you already own a copy on DVD.
One thing to note, however, is that with greater picture quality, comes greater scrutiny when it comes to special effects. This movie has a few instances of very grainy art that has been lain over the picture to add effect (such as the gun barrel from the open credits). Also, the driving scenes, as mentioned earlier, are green screen added to a stationary vehicle. It’s painfully obvious and looks pretty bad.
Audio Quality (3/5):
Even though the audio tracks have been brushed up to Master Audio 5.1, the sound doesn’t really excite the same way that the picture quality does. It sounds pretty good overall, but has that sort of canny sound that is very 60’s feeling to me. The gun shots and explosions were pretty hollow sounding. In the end, it’s passable, but didn’t really satisfy.
Special Features (4/5):
All of the special features from the Ultimate Edition DVD have been brought over to the blu ray, but there are no exclusive special features. It’s hard to really blame them for this, as there can’t be anything left after all these years and releases to bring out for a new version. There is a lot of content here, though, and I’m sure fans of the series will be happy and interested with the assortment.
- MI6 Commentary
- A collection of old interviews and commentary from the disc producer John Cork.
- Inside Dr. No (HD 42mins):
- A documentary narrated by Patrick Macnee that goes over the beginnings of the Bond series and how Dr. No came to be.
- 007: License to Restore (SD 12mins):
- A really interesting look at what went into the restorations of the film. Weirdly enough, this short view on turning the film into breathtaking HD is filmed and displayed in SD. Queue sad trombone. It also felt a little like a commercial for the restoration company. Still, it’s worth watching and is quite fascinating.
- The Guns of James Bond (SD 5mins):
- Sean Connery gives us a rundown of the guns that Bond gets to play with.
- Premiere Bond: Opening Night (SD 13mins):
- A short mini documentary that covers the red carpet premiers for every Bond film from Dr. No to Die Another Day.
- Terence Young: Bond Vivant (HD/SD 18mins):
- A biography style short documentary on the first Bond director, and how he set the tone for the series.
- Dr. No 1963 Featurette (SD 9mins):
- A black and white video setting up Sean Connery as the ultimate secret agent.
- 007 Mission Control:
- A scene selection tool that groups scenes by different themes (such as guns, girls, specific locations, etc).
- Theatrical Archive (HD/SD 10mins):
- Four trailers for the film.
- TV Broadcasts (SD 2mins):
- Two TV teasers for a double showing of Dr. No and Goldfinger.
- Radio Communication
- Six radio ads for the Bond series
- Image Database
- A series of images promoting the film. Includes film posters, production shots, stills, etc.
- Disc Credits (SD 2mins)
- 50gb dual layer blu ray
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
- English and Spanish subtitles
- Audio Formats:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround
- English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
- French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Final Thoughts (4/5):
Dr. No kicks off the series in a pretty good showing. It gives the viewer a taste of the British spy agency, and leaves us wanting to see more of Bond’s adventures. Fans of the series should definitely get this as an upgrade for the amazing picture quality. Newcomers to the franchise should give this a strong consideration, as there is a lot here to entertain.