1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Spy Who Loved Me - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review

by Casimir Harlow Nov 27, 2012


Movies review

11

  • Movie
Movie: The Spy Who Loved Me

Picture

So it would appear that The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the scant few Bond titles in this set that hasn’t been ‘restored’ by Lowry (just to be clear, it was originally tweaked by Lowry back when they did all of the Bond titles a few years ago, but MGM have sourced a new – and better – print which has been used for this Blu-ray. Although in many cases Lowry have done a stand-up job at remastering the titles (Moonraker), their efforts have not always been impressive (The Man with the Golden Gun) and so some fans will actually probably be relieved that this print remains untainted. After all, as a result, it remains one of the best looking Moore entries, and one of the best looking films in the set.

Presented in High Defintion 1080p, the AVC-encode is framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen, a welcome return to the broader formats after the last two 1.85:1 Moore instalments. Although there is almost no way that this release could be awarded a perfect 10 in terms of video presentation – there are far too many flaws inherent to the original filming process (the optical composites will simply never look any better than this; the dirt and excessive grain is a pure side-effect of the composite process, literally getting stuck between the two images, and the post-production zooms similarly suffer) – it does still stand as clear demo-quality material, easily the best this movie has ever looked and a strong contender for one of the best-looking titles in the set.

Detail is impressive throughout and, aside from the aforementioned issues inherent to the original print, you will find this image almost completely devoid of damage and – perhaps more importantly – almost completely untainted by digital manipulation: no edge enhancement, blocking, banding; and no noticeable DNR. I’m sure DNR has been applied, but with such a light touch that the end result retains the movie’s original grain structure, affording it both some superior fine object detail and also that wonderful filmic look that often escapes once a picture is over-scrubbed using these cleaning tools. Far from the waxy-looking Predator faces we could have had, the skin textures are spot on here, with every line and pore reminding us that Moore was indeed older than he seemed back when you couldn’t spot these kinds of subtle touches. The sets and settings boast excellent detail too, and the image retains clarity from the close-ups through the mid-range shots all the way to the wider, more panoramic vistas.

The colour scheme is broad and well-represented throughout; establishing healthy and realistic skin tones, beautiful clear blue skies and wonderful water tones for the aquatic moments – from the cobalt-blue tides on the coast to the deeper blue sea. The palette is bolstered by some very specific colour design, juxtaposing warm rich browns, pristine whites and bright and vivid yellows and reds just during the pre-credits sequence – it was a movie made back in the day where this kind of colour stylisation was still a pride of work. Black levels are strong and allow for decent darker sequences, particularly in the Pyramids sequence.

I can’t see there being many complaints about this wonderful presentation to one of the best Bond movies ever – perhaps it was a good thing that Lowry don’t appear to have been involved in this particular effort – and it’s likely that we will simply never see The Spy Who Loved Me look any better than this. Impressive indeed.



Sound

Although not a six-channel film by design, this new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix has worked wonders with the stereo elements to bring us a very good expanded six-speaker offering that enhances rather than distorts the original material. Dialogue is still largely restricted to the frontal spectrum – as you would only expect – but comes across clearly and coherently throughout. Effects are remarkably well-observed, from the fantastic scream of the Lotus Esprit to the chugging clunks of the battered utility van; from the whipping whirr of the attacking helicopter to the authentic replication of the ski-on-ice sounds; from the purring underwater sequences to the wave-crashing grand-standing scale model sequences, with either Atlantis rearing up out of the ocean or various giant vessels tearing through the water. Gunshots are fairly commonplace, ringing out in Egypt, echoing violently in the steel-drum tanker assault and thundering with finality in the closing confrontation. Sure, the machine-gun strafing during the helicopter vs. Lotus sequence has that slightly tinny sound made from the generic gunfire sound that dates back to that era (think Airwolf), but there are still some nice reverberations and the added LFE elements give the mix some welcome depth. The score is integrated so well into the proceedings that you could almost describe it as contributing to the effects, and, whilst it’s obviously pure 70s disco – in my opinion – it sounds fantastic and perfectly matches up to the material, scene for scene, shot for shot. Perhaps not quite a demo-quality rendition, this is still one of the standout tracks amidst the pre-90s Bond flicks, presenting the film better than it has ever sounded before.



Extras

This new Bond 50 Box Set comes complete with all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras ported over (as well as some new material on a further disc in the set). Far from bad news, the old UE releases pretty-much offered up definitive background material for each title, and The Spy Who Loved Me was certainly one of the chapters that was particularly well treated.

Sporting two compelling Commentaries – one by the Crew, and one by Bond star Sir. Roger Moore himself – we also had a number of informative background Featurettes and Documentaries, as well as a hefty amount of promotional material. Fans of the film will no doubt know all about these offerings; newcomers couldn’t want for more.

Commentaries

Commentary by Sir Roger Moore – His personal favourite Bond outing, the well-spoken dapper gentleman takes us through the movie several decades after it was made, fondly recalling some interesting titbits, revealing insight into the stunts, the crew and the cameos. Great friends with many of the cast and crew, it’s truly evident just how much he loved this movie – from the song to the music; from the sets to the locations. Listening to the commentary it feels like it was all just one big family working together, a warm and rich accompaniment that is well worth checking out.

Commentary Featuring Director Lewis Gilbert, Production Designer Ken Adam, Co-Writer Christopher Wood and Producer Michael G. Wilson – A much more technically prolific compilation track we get to hear from many of the key crew-members involved in the production, offering up insight into the set designs, scale, direction and script. Again, a worthy listen.

Declassified: MI6 Vault

007 in Egypt is a 6-minute collection of 16mm Behind the Scenes footage shot on location, the first of several Featurettes narrated by producer Michael G. Wilson. It’s fun watching Moore, Bach, Kiel, the director and the crew shooting the scenes and having fun on set, and it offers some insight into how the shots were filmed.

Roger Moore: My Word is My Bond is a further 5-minute compilation of on-set interviews with Moore, answering questions about his work on the project, his background in TV, and his experiences on set. A jovial, very affable chap, this is a nice little vintage offering from the actor.

On Location with Ken Adam is a 6 minute look at the production design hosted by Ken Adam himself, who talks about his location scouting, shows us some of his scouting footage, and discusses his work on the film whilst giving us some insight into his eye for unusual architecture. We get to see some back-stage fun between filming – Moore playing backgammon with Cubby Broccoli whilst Barbara Bach sunbathes in the background; testing out the Lotus to see how fast they can get it to safely go – and it’s another nice behind the scenes glimpse.

007 Stage Dedication – Original 1977 Featurette is just a 70 second vintage promo preview for the unveiling of this brand new, grand sound stage at Pinewood Studios.

Escape from Atlantis: Storyboard Sequence is an interesting look at a slightly different ending to the film, with a longer battle between Bond and Jaws and then a confrontation between Bond and Anya where she shoots at him, but does not kill him – addressing the vow of vengeance that she’d made earlier in the story. Although it’s not always that easy to understand what is going on – even with added subtitles from an earlier shooting script – this is still a nice look at what could have been a decent added moment.

Mission Dossier

Inside The Spy Who Loved Me is a 40-minute retrospective Documentary on the making of The Spy Who Loved Me, with many of the contributors noting that it is one of the best – if not the best – Bond films of all time. It charts the tough production history, the loss of Harry Saltzman, the fact that Ian Fleming had a contract that stipulated that no portion of his book could be used beyond the title, the directors and writers who quit the project due to delays, the injunction suit with Kevin McClory, the stunts and shooting, the cast and crew, the expansive set and the glorious end result – a comprehensive piece that is well worth checking out.

Ken Adam: Designing Bond is a 22-minute accompanying documentary focussing on Ken Adam’s imaginative, stylised sets, looking back at his history over the Bond films and the magic he worked for The Spy Who Loved Me.

Exotic Locations rounds out this section with a look at the locations chosen for this movie.

Ministry of Propaganda

Theatrical Archive provides for a trio of original Theatrical Trailers.

TV Broadcasts has a further selection of TV Spots.

Radio Communication rounds out the section with Radio Spots.

Image Database

The disc is rounded out with a stills gallery from the film.



Verdict

“Love of life is born of the awareness of death... of the dread of it.”

From the jaw-dropping opening ski-jump to the closing confrontation in the villain’s underwater lair; from the double-crossing arms of a Soviet femme fatale to the deadly clutches of a steel-toothed assassin, commanded by an aquatically-obsessed megalomaniac; from the Lotus chase, both above-ground and then – spectacularly – underwater, to the massive assault inside a submarine-swallowing tanker – The Spy Who Loved Me combined a well-constructed plot featuring globally-catastrophic machinations with cleverly-developed story and character design, making this Bond not only bigger than ever before, but better too. For many this is the best Moore outing by far, but, for some, it is simply the best Bond film.

As part of the Bond 50 set, The Spy Who Loved Me, rather unusually, does not sport one of those Lowry restorations prevalent across the majority of the titles in this release. For many this will come as a welcome release, as the movie looks better than ever before, and as impressive as the best that restorations that Lowry has offered. With remixed audio that also sounds top notch, this is a marked improvement over the previous DVD – a welcome relief for those who may have picked up the entire Bond 50 set just to have this previously-unavailable Bond classic – and fans will also be pleased that all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras have been ported over here.

Bond has been served well by a phenomenal box-set, timed to coincide with the arrival of Skyfall and the 50th Anniversary of the franchise. The Spy Who Loved Me forms part of the set along with the other twenty-two films in the series, the majority of which look and sound terrific, and contain a wealth of extra material as well as a separate and new disc full of extra features further examining our favourite super-spy. It comes with the highest recommendation.



The Rundown

Movie

10

Picture Quality

9

Sound Quality

8

Extras

8

Overall

9

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges here.


    1. The News Bot

      The News Bot News Supplying Robot Staff Member

      Joined:
      Sep 15, 2004
      Messages:
      17,504
      Trophy Points:
      103
      Ratings:
      +443
      “Nobody does it better...”

      We all have our favourite Bond films – the obvious choice is Connery’s Goldfinger, but Lazenby’s OHMSS is an underdog contender, and nobody can dismiss Craig’s superb Casino Royale reboot either. For me, it’s always been The Spy Who Loved Me. Dalton’s Living Daylights may have been the first Bond I saw at the cinemas, but I’d been brought up on Connery and Moore, and the latter always appealed to me more. Nobody can knock Connery’s suave Scottish super-spy brawler; his classic Aston Martin DB5; his tussles with Blofeld; and his gorgeous girls – but Moore would bring a fresh new vitality to the 70s Bonds, after Connery had long grown bored in the role.

      With his third outing we reached the pinnacle of Moore’s reign, offering the best the series had to offer in terms of girls, cars and villains:...


      Read the full review...
    2. Garrett

      Garrett Moderator

      Joined:
      Apr 21, 2001
      Messages:
      22,359
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +1,395
      Apart from having shed loads of elements of You Only Live Twice this is without doubt the best Roger Moore, Bond film, great sound track, lots of lovely ladies, great locations plenty of action what a super opening sequence, for a split second I was wondering how he was going to get out of that fall.
      And even tough I hated a lot of silliness in some of the Moore Bond films they manage to pull it of with aplomb.

      I'm working my way though the Bond films in order and this is one I cannot wait to get to.

      I think it was the last of the Bond films I saw in one of the really big screens from the days when there were cinemas with circles.

      Although not at the top of my favorite Bond its in my top 5 and thoroughly enjoyable thou out

      I think Ill have to agree with you on this one Cas 10/10 Like the song Roger and all did it better.
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
      Last edited: Nov 27, 2012
    3. stuartbrown21

      stuartbrown21 Active Member

      Joined:
      Mar 12, 2005
      Messages:
      1,499
      Trophy Points:
      83
      Ratings:
      +300
      My long time best Bond film, followed closely by Casino Royale & The Living Daylights. Looking forward to this!
    4. Courtjezter

      Courtjezter Active Member

      Joined:
      Jan 13, 2010
      Messages:
      3,203
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +878
      Wow,

      I do wonder has there ever been a straight forward Bond film, where someone has delivered a script and the original director has delivered against it. Every film seems to have a story and your knowledge of this should be commended. Could i also add that the pre-credits sequence in this gave us the best sequence from Die Another Day, although there was no need for London Calling to be played during that sequence in the latter film.
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    5. MikeTheBike2010

      MikeTheBike2010 Member

      Joined:
      Oct 24, 2010
      Messages:
      20
      Trophy Points:
      3
      Ratings:
      +6
      Thank you so much for this review. From speaking to friends I was beginning to think I was the only one who thought this way and half expected to title to be all but ignored in this set - how wrong I was.
      so much hinges on your age as to favourite films and how you first experienced them. For me as a 10 year old seeing my 1st Bond at the pictures with my dad this one will always remain the best.
      Hey, it was the days of continuous performances - we arrived half way through and then sat and watched the whole thing again.
      At 44 I still covert a Lotus Esprit as the coolest car ever made!
      Thanks again for the great review.
      Mike
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    6. domtheone

      domtheone Active Member

      Joined:
      Nov 23, 2004
      Messages:
      10,620
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +721
      Another great review.

      I've not seen this film in years (save for bits and pieces viewings on dodgy itv) so i'm really looking forward to eventually getting the individual release of this.

      I know it's one of the best Bonds but how good for me, i'll leave that till i watch it again.

      Certainly has everything going for it:

      Moore - check
      Jaws - check (funnily enough - my fave movie of all time and my fave Bond villain as well):D
      Gorgeous Bond girl - check
      Epic opening scene - check
      Fantastic Bond song - check
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    7. Jim Di Griz

      Jim Di Griz Active Member

      Joined:
      Jan 24, 2009
      Messages:
      7,977
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +1,000
      Great review!

      This one is certainly my favourite Roger Moore Bond and possibly my favourite full stop a la Alan Partridge! :D

      As a 10 year old my mate's dad borrowed a Lotus Esprit Turbo for a week and took me and my mate for a spin in it down the motorway one weekend. We were completely gobsmacked - it looked exactly like the Bond one, so much in fact that we kept asking where the secret weapons buttons were! :D Im not into cars but theres only ever been one Bond car for me and its always been the Lotus Esprit Turbo - no question!
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    8. Casimir Harlow

      Casimir Harlow Blu-ray Reviewer

      Joined:
      Feb 28, 2005
      Messages:
      3,026
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +641
      Thanks guys! :thumbsup:

      Yep, I hadn't forgotten about this one, just saved the best till last! :smashin:

      Glad I'm not the only one who rates it as one of their faves!

      Hope you all (well, those who haven't yet) enjoy revisiting the film on BD when you get around to it and that it still lives up to expectations, it certainly did for me!

      Cheers for all the comments,
      Cas
    9. the_dude2

      the_dude2 Active Member

      Joined:
      Oct 2, 2008
      Messages:
      1,127
      Trophy Points:
      86
      Ratings:
      +318
      Ive only just got around to reading this review, another excellent job Cas.

      This has always been my favourite Bond, with only Casino Royale coming close. I will shorlty be going through the box set (i hope to get a new tv before i start) and i cannot wait to get to this movie. I havent seen it in years and my excitement is palpable.

      Thanks again for all the reviews, i have enjoyed reading every one of them, espeically this one. Oh, I love Barbara Bach too, always had a massive crush! haha
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    10. Casimir Harlow

      Casimir Harlow Blu-ray Reviewer

      Joined:
      Feb 28, 2005
      Messages:
      3,026
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +641
      Thanks for the kind comment mate! :thumbsup:

      Good to see this at the top of your list too (dare I ask - did you enjoy Skyfall?)

      Glad you've enjoyed the Bond reviews - thanks for reading them all! - it's nice that they're finally done; it was a mammoth task (for all of us!) but well worth it. Returning to the world of non-Bond film reviewing has been tougher than expected! :eek:

      Cheers, Cas
    11. Garrett

      Garrett Moderator

      Joined:
      Apr 21, 2001
      Messages:
      22,359
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +1,395
      I watched it at weekend and still up there in my top 5 I did find a bit more silliness in it than before overlooking them, but watching it now with a more critical eye. Mainly the scenes with the van being riped apart and its wonky wheels like something you see clowns in a circus driving. Although I did enjoy Bonds banter.
      Showing his age a bit more with a sharper picture I still think Roger looked as though he could do what he did.
      One point I have to disagree with the original review I thought Curt Jurgens was on of the weaker Bong head villains. He nether had the charm and underlying deadlines of Scaramanga, Goldfinger or Drax or insanity of Max Zorin.

      Apart from that this film pushed the boat out having on of the best cars after the Aston, great locations one of the best opening scenes, great titles and song. Probably the best array of beautiful women although I thought some were throw away like the lovely Valarie Leon as just a hotel receptionist, and would be put to better use in Never Say Ever Again.

      I can never work out if Felicca was setting Bond up and was turned to get her take the bullet, or saw the gun and gave out a warning and was turned so Bond could shoot and therfore shot by accident.

      Was it Walter Gotell that sent the agent to kill Bond? Probably miffed the other Bond burnt his boats and jacket :laugh: In later films I think the character does have some underlying respect for Bond.
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
      Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  • Production

    Type Blu-ray
    Region
    Country UK
    Certificate
    Number of Discs 1
    Running Time 125 Minutes
    Release Date 20120924

    Picture

    Aspect Ratio 2.40:1

    Sound

    Sound Options English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
  • Loading