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For Your Eyes Only Blu-ray Review

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by Chris McEneany Oct 30, 2008

  • Movies review

    2,603

    For Your Eyes Only Blu-ray Review

    Picture

    Presented in 2.35:1 via MPEG-4 encode, For Your Eyes Only looks pretty damn good.

    The worst of the edge enhancement that dogged its Ultimate Edition is eased away and the image is incredibly clean and vibrant. It is not the sharpest transfer around, but this is down to the film stock of the time, and there is some slight elements of age-related damage, yet you would hard-pressed to find the film looking any better than this. Evidence of DNR is there - we don't have any grain and there are some occasional softer faces that have had some more finite detail scrubbed away.

    Let's get some of the bad stuff out of the way first. There is a frame jump that I noticed and some occasional blemishes on the lens. One panning shot of the Greek sky suffers from a couple of smudges against the pale blue, and the scene aboard the Neptune, when Bond and Melina enter the chamber to suit-up for deep-sea adventures, has a curious silver mark on the lens. But what will become immediately apparent is the boldness of the colours, which are now considerably brighter and deeper, providing that now clichéd “pop” from the screen. The thing is, they actually do lift from the surrounding image and, depending upon your own personal taste, this may prove slightly distracting. The brilliant red of the helicopter in that opening scene is wildly gaudy, heightening the comic-book extravagance of it all, no end. All of the primaries, in fact, are lush and vivid and this is spectacularly showcased during the extensive snow-set sequences when the picture is ignited with wild-hued parkas, skis and thermal hats. The brilliant whites of these sequences are never jeopardised by glitching and remain crisp and splendid without ever dazzling too brightly. Close-ups of Bond scrabbling around in the snow as Eric blasts away at him from up the slope reveal texture and detail on the surroundings that I have never seen before. The underwater scenes, too, look astonishingly vivid and detailed, with more clarity on the wreck of the St. George's and around the sunken temple. Bubbles are more sharply defined and the shot when Bond suddenly indicates to Melina that he is there results in a close-up of his face smudged-up against his mask that is even more hilarious in hi-def. Detail on the coral is more explicit and the rock-face of the mountain climb is far more acute, which comparisons between this and previous editions clearly make apparent. Far-off detail is a little more hit and miss, but there is definitely a lot more on show here - from distant skiers and villages to tree-lines and watery horizons. Another view that benefits from this raised resolution is that of the Becton Gasworks and docklands of London - the area that went on to become the London Eye - as the remote-control chopper dances about the chimneys and warehouses. There is far more detail exhibited throughout this entire set-piece - from the grass and flowers of the graveyard to the dashboard of the chopper and from the gleaming dome of Blofeld's shiny pate to the sundry pipes and broken windows of a thousand disused buildings below.

    Now, during the casino scene and its subsequent meeting between Kristatos and Bond out on the veranda, blacks appear washed-out and pale. Those dinner-jackets look anything but immaculate with filtering taking place within them and the image becoming quite drab and depressing. Elsewhere, though, black levels are actually very good, with some terrific shadows aiding the atmospherics.

    For Your Eyes Only doesn't make as grand a leap to hi-def as say, Dr. No or From Russia With Love, but it is definitely a worthy upgrade.

    For Your Eyes Only Picture

    Sound

    Funnily enough, despite being one of the newer titles in this first batch of Bond Blu-ray releases, For Your Eyes Only isn't any more “convincingly” dynamic than the early Connery editions. What it does have, however, is plenty of enjoyable bass support. The pre-titles helicopter escapade is loaded with roaring rotors and the numerous explosions - particularly the one set off in Kristatos' dockyard by a huge mine - have terrific reverberating sub presence. I like the sudden rush of wind and rotors when Bond manages to get outside the renegade chopper, for instance and the climactic smashing of ... well, a very crucial prop. The underwater melee with the armoured submariner offers a few crunches and jolts and there is a definite desire to create some ambience around the set-up, and Bond's scrabbling with the rock-face provides some nice little skittering effects amongst the piton-hammering and the rattling of metal hooks etc. Lots of smaller, more discrete noises are handled quite nicely, such as the stark “twang!” of the flag-line as Bond flies through it. Gunshots, crossbow-bolts thunking into flesh and physical impacts have plenty of meat to them.

    But a definite problem with the DTS mix is a mismanagement of the overall sound design. Voices can frequently be drowned by the surrounds and dialogue can seriously drop in volume and audibility when compared to the score, which can often boom out without much warning. Even if it had been John Barry's momentous scoring, this would have been a problem, but with Conti's music, it just seems too overbearing. The chase with the bikes and the skis loses a lot of incidental acoustic detail as a result.

    But, I would still take the DTS lossless mix over the original Dolby Surround track, which is also offered with this release, simply because it possesses more vigour, a greater extended bass and more width across the channels. This is certainly down to individual taste, though. The Dolby Surround track didn't make any errors - at least not as noticeably as the DTS mix did - yet the added dimensionality and aggression of the lossless audio made for a more enjoyable experience despite the poor prioritisation of the effects and speech. Ultimately, this sounds much more in-your-face than ever before, but it makes a few sacrifices in the process.

    For Your Eyes Only Sound

    Extras

    This time equipped with three commentaries, For Your Eyes Only certainly packs in the anecdotes and trivia. Whilst the first two tracks - one from director John Glen, plus cast members including Roger Moore, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson and Julian Glover, and the second with producer/co-screenwriter Michael G. Wilson and a plethora of crew members - cover virtually every aspect of the production and the franchise as it was at the time, they do so in the now familiar, bite-size separate recording style of all the Bond commentaries. Occasionally scene-specific, but always interesting, these two tracks, as vastly informative as they are, still fall in behind the glorious solo effort from Sir Roger Moore. Whilst the most easygoing of the Bonds, Moore is the one that you can count on for self-deprecation and good old send-up. “Yes, you see that person there,” he says wryly right at the start as Bond walks down at the end of the gun barrel, “is me impersonating James Bond.” And this sets the tone for a very pleasant and amusing shoot-the-breeze-with-Bond experience that may have plentiful lulls, but is still amply rewarding.

    Under the Declassified: MI6 Vault banner, we get three home movies from the production covering various locations and aspects, all narrated by Michael G. Wilson. The first, Bond In Greece (5.58) offers the surreal image of a nonplussed crew filming two rival mob gangs battling and brawling and a great shot of Cubby Broccoli and Roger Moore playing backgammon on a clifftop. Bond In Cortina (4.17) takes us into the snowy locations and reveals that much of the white stuff had to be trucked in to the village because of a serious lack of the real thing, and Neptune's Journey (3.37) provides us with lots of underwater footage of the Peter Lamont-designed two-man submersible as we hear from Wilson about the prop's life and times up until the Ian Fleming Foundation got their hands on it and now take it on tour.

    Here, we also get two Deleted Scenes, both introduced by John Glen. The first (2.05) shows us an extension to the ice hockey fight sequence, treating us to an extra shot of Charles Dance as 007 dumps ice all over him. The second (1.07) was thankfully shorn from the film as it would have had us suffering more of Bouquet's excruciatingly emotionless line deliveries.

    There is also an intriguing look at how Glen arrived at picking the right shot for Locque's smash 'n' crash death scene with an Expanded Angle variation. After his introduction, you can choose how to see the scene play out from original - a wider shot that doesn't show the very realistic dummy flopping out of the vehicle - finished, which does, or multi, which has both images on the screen.

    Under Mission Dossier, we get the obligatory Patrick Macnee-narrated half-hour making of. With interviews with most of the principles, including the producer and director, the stuntmen and designers, Moore, Topol and Lynn-Holly Johnson, this typically packs a lot of info into its meagre running time. The genesis of the story and the comprehensive stuntwork are looked at and it is nice to see the famed Rick Sylvester admitting to how scared he was doing the cliff-fall piece, as well as to confessing to being only 5'6'' - a somewhat daunting measurement when doubling for a man who is well over 6'! And god, wouldn't you know it, they even play a montage of the snowbound stunts to John Barry's awesome 007 theme, rubbing salt in the wounds of all those who lament Conti's score! This little doc, in AVC MPEG-4, also gives us tantalising glimpses of Moonraker, OHMSS and even Fiddler On The Roof in hi-def, too. Plus it also shows how amazingly attractive Carole Bouquet is when she cracks that zombified face and actually smiles. Too bad she can't deliver anything other than a wax mask during the film.

    Next there are two Animated Storyboards selections provided, for the ATAC underwater retrieval and snow-chase sequences, set to Conti's score.

    Finally, besides the 007 Mission Control interactive (read superfluous scene selection) and the collection of theatrical, TV and Radio trailers, we have Sheena Easton "music video" for the title song, 'For Your Eyes Only.' Actually, it is just the title sequence playing without the actual credits.

    Although a nice little bunch of extras, this roster still feels somewhat light compared to some of the other titles. But the style of retro features and on-set footage, capped-off with some detailed and incisive commentaries ensures plenty to get your teeth into.

    For Your Eyes Only Extras

    Verdict

    One of the more critically lauded of the Roger Moore canon, For Your Eyes Only presents a Bond who is stripped down to his resourceful essentials and, in the scheme of things, all the better for it. The stunts feel more intense and physical and the film, unusually for Bond, ends somewhat quietly and without the now-expected big battle. The final joke definitely pushes things too far, especially after what has been a more straight-forward adventure, but given the era and the sense of humour that prevailed, it probably made perfect sense at the time. For Your Eyes Only was a big success, re-establishing Roger Moore in the lime-light after some scathing snipes for Moonraker and its place in the series is a firmly rewarding one that takes in all the requisite globe-trotting, set-piece mayhem and baddie-offing that you could wish for. Conti's score is an unforgivable mess, though, that can, if you let it, take you out of the film even more so than spotting all those stunt-doubles can.

    With an image that is clearly an improvement over its former incarnations and sound that is surprisingly aggressive - though not without a few sore points as well - For Your Eyes Only is backed up by a solid array of extras. There's nothing that fans of the Ultimate Edition won't already have seen but, at least, there's nothing missed out. Definitely recommended, although ignore the title because you don't have to watch it alone.

    The Rundown

    Movie

    8

    Picture Quality

    7

    Sound Quality

    7

    Extras

    8

    Overall

    8

    8
    AVForumsSCORE
    OUT OF
    10
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