Dr. No Blu-ray Review

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by AVForums Nov 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

  • Movies review


    Dr. No Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £21.69


    Correctly framed at 1.66:1 with thin black bars either side, and encoded at 1080P using the MPEG4 system, this film could have been made yesterday.

    Lovingly restored a few years back by Lowry Digital for the Ultimate edition 2 discs SD DVD set, one had and inkling that the new masters would be good enough for a High Definition release - and one was spot on!

    But - and this is a strange one - the first thing I noticed is that the opening titles are actually lopsided! They tilt over to the right - and I even went as far as measuring the gap below them at the right hand edge compared to the left side - and they are lopsided (I need a new job!). I had a look at my Ultimate SD edition and they were straight...strange eh?

    But that's the worst news I have to bring you - this disc is superb. A lot of purists were outraged that the people at Lowry dare tinker with the picture on their beloved films - but even they have to admit, this film has never looked better.

    The whole colour palette appears to be oversaturated somewhat - particularly red. But when I sat and watched this with my mother (vintage 1939), she said it was exactly how she remembered it when she saw it with my father (circa 1938) all those years ago - and can even remember commenting on how bright Quarrels shirt was on their way out of the cinema before I was even part of the bigger picture (circa 1965!).

    If anything was poor on the Ultimate DVD's, it was the flesh tones, They were particularly unstable and would go from a nice shade of pink in one scene to bright red in the next. I'm pleased to report that there are no such nasties on this Blu-ray disc - flesh tones are natural and stable all the way through.

    Black levels are a little weak - in the dragon scene at Crab Key, some of the detail disappears in the shadows only to re-appear as the dragon breathes fire and lights up the area. Though detail is generally very high throughout - when you see Connerys face close up for the first time, you sometimes wonder what all the fuss was all about...

    All in all though, the picture quality does stand it's ground against all the other older films that have been re-mastered and mastered in High Definition and as I said earlier, it has probably not looked this good since it premiered in Leicester Square back in 1962.

    Dr. No Picture


    First the good news for film purists everywhere - the American Region A versions of these discs contain the original mono mix that would have accompanied the film on it's release in 1962.

    But the super duper good news is that it also contains a rather good lossless track in the form of a DTS HD Master Audio mix in it's 5.1 'guise. Now we all know that these remixed tracks never shake the very foundations of our home theatres - but the truth be known, this one is actually not that bad...

    First thing I noticed was the separation across the front soundstage - it's absolute and total. During the airport scene when Bond lands in Jamaica, the front three channels are used brilliantly to enforce a sense of ambience - unfortunately, the rear channels stay pretty much silent throughout - right up until the big scene in Dr No's evil lair at the end where they suddenly spring into life - as does the .1 LFE channel.

    OK - so it's not demo stuff - but it's a lot more dynamic than either the Dolby Digital or DTS track we've had previously on the SD releases and is a step in the right direction.

    Dialogue is clear and anchored front and centre. As well as the visual anomalies that were eradicated during the re-mastering process, Lowry also touched up the soundtrack. Switch over to the mono track and there's not a hint of the background hiss that has plagued previous releases of this film on DVD and VHS.

    Overall a fine effort - and I would recommend to purists to take a listen to the DTS HD Master Audio track if they have the kit to do so - worth it in my book just to hear the opening theme in a different light.

    Dr. No Sound


    Unsurprisingly coming packed with exactly the same extras as both the Ultimate edition released a few years ago and the recent re-issue, there's some interesting pieces in the extras package - if you can work out exactly how to get to them. Those of you that own the aforementioned Ultimate 2 disc special editions may remember what a pain it was to navigate the special features menu - and it hasn't changed. The studio have directly ported them over - fiddly menus included. However, some of them have been given a High Definition makeover. Lets have a look at what we do get then...

    The menus are split into files and each one named - the first file is named Top Level Access and includes some of the discs best extra features...

    First up is the Filmmakers Commentary that includes snippets from all of the stars and makers - including director Terence Young - and is held together by a film historian. It's one of the best commentaries I have heard to date and moves along nicely with the film. There are no pregnant pauses and it's jam packed full of information on the film.

    007 - Licence To Restore (SD 11.56) is an interesting piece on the restoration of all the Bond films up to Die Another Day by Lowry Digital Images. They maybe tinkered a little to much with one or two of the titles where tinkering wasn't really needed - but that has been discussed in great length on the World Wide Web - right or wrong, there's no denying that all of the films look much better for having the scratches and marks removed...

    The Declassified MI6 Vault is the next file that Her Majesty's MGM have allowed us to view, and first up from there is The Guns Of James Bond (SD 05.06) which is a fascinating piece introduced by Sean Connery and involving a guy called Jeffrey Boothroyd (who goes to great lengths to point out that he isn't Major Boothroyd in the books). However, he comes complete with brilliant handlebar moustache and fantastic middle class English accent as he tells us how he had the neck to write to Ian Fleming and tell him that he thought that Bond was using the wrong weapons - it's made by the BBC and would never have been approved today. Mr Boothroyd proceeds to demonstrate the .44 Magnum - indoors - with no ear defence! The PC and Health & Safety brigade would have a field day!

    Premier - Bond Opening Nights (SD 13.09) is a short piece narrated by producer Michael Wilson and includes stills and some shoddy footage from all of the Bond premier nights.

    007 Mission Control is the next file that the data protection act (OK - I know they were never classified - but I'm playing along...) now allows us access to - and to be perfectly honest 007, it's all a bit of a con old chap. We are presented with titles like The Gun Barrel - and when you choose it, instead of taking us to some secret dossier on that scene, all it does it take us to that scene from the film - and continues to do so, conning us on the way into thinking that we are going to learn something about Bonds Girls, or expensive taste - total waste of time. If you want to skip to a scene in the film, use the pop up menu and do it that way...

    Mission Dossier is a bit more like it - at least we get some info on the film in here - and first up is Inside Dr No (HD 42.10) which is a making of documentary narrated by Patrick Macnee and includes some fascinating information and interviews from behind the scenes as the film was being made. Includes such gems as interviews with Sean Connerys tailor...

    Terence Young - Bond Vivant (HD 17.57) is the next item in the mission dossier and is a short feature and biography on Terence Young, director of the first Bond film. Again it includes interviews with people that were involved in the making of the film - who seem to think that Young actually thought he was Bond...
    Dr No 1963 Featurette (SD 08.40) is an American made for TV Featurette that goes into great detail to explain to the American people the legacy of James Bond. It's a right old state though and is full of crackles and tears and suffers badly from audio hiss.

    We move on now from The Mission Dossier to the Ministry Of Propaganda where, as the title suggests, all the bits and pieces that were used to sell the film are contained.

    Theatrical Archive - trailers is the first file we come across in this particular vault - and it is a bit about the trailer for the film. It has been restore, given the HD treatment and is narrated by Sean Connery.

    Introducing Mr Bond is another American piece put together to explain the main man to the American people. It's actually quite comical when you watch it - it has a still of Connery as Bond on the screen with an American commentator explaining his suit, shoes and haircut...

    From hereon, this vault concentrates on the trailers only - and there are a few from when Dr No was released as a double bill with From Russia With Love and later on with Goldfinger. We take it for granted these days that we can watch a film whenever we want to - but back in the 1960's, folk didn't have the luxury of spinning two Blu-ray discs in one night so cinemas showed them as double bills - and who says that the home video industry hasn't killed cinema? Wouldn't you just love to be able to see two classics such as these on the big screen, one after the other? I know I would...

    The vault is completed by some rather pointless snippets of audio from the film that were broadcast on the radio back in the day...

    The Image Database rounds of the extras package - and as you would imagine, is a series of stills from the movie set. This includes an interesting piece on a lost scene where Honey was supposed to have been terrorised by crabs - but the crabs moved to slow so the scene was removed! Sea Bass spring to mind for some reason...

    So there you have it - a pain to navigate sometimes and a lot of it is a waste of time. However, there is some brilliant stuff in there and it's well worth fiddling around with the menus and taking a wet Sunday afternoon out to go through them properly - even if it's just to see how our parents lived!

    Dr. No Extras


    James Bond holds a special place in my heart. As a young lad growing up in London in the early 1970's, one of my clearest memories is of being set free from the apron strings to go and see The Man With The Golden Gun. I didn't know then - I thought it was brilliant!,

    However, in the mid 1970's, ITV started showing the early Bond films - starting with Dr No. I remember at the time the national grid nearly broke down because so many people wanted to see them again in the days before VHS and DVD - and they were shown on prime time slots on Saturday night as well - before they were relegated to Boxing Day afternoon fodder...

    The film that started it all, Dr No, is presented in glorious High Definition on this Blu-ray disc from MGM. As a package, it's identical to the two disc Ultimate SD DVD released a few years ago. That means that all the extras are here (and they are still a pain to navigate). Among them are some gems containing stuff that I had never seen before. But there's also some awful padding in there as well - try not to get lost in there because it's a bit of a maze...

    The picture and sound quality are a step up from the Ultimate DVD - the picture has all the traits of HD over SD - more detail, better colour etc and the soundtrack has been given a lossless makeover in the shape of a DTS HD Master Audio track

    But can I recommend it over it's SD counterpart? The SD discs have been re-released alongside these Blu-ray discs in smart new gold covers - If you already own the Ultimate SD discs, then you don't want to waste your money double tapping on the re-released SD versions. No - you'll want to waste it on these nice new shiny High Definition versions instead! Go on - you know you want to...

    Dr. No Verdict

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69

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