Octopussy - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review
Octopussy’s Lowry restoration is amidst the better efforts from the company, providing a welcome leap up from the old DVD release whilst also largely avoiding the heavy DNR application that appears to have plagued some of their restoration works. Presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen, the 1080p High Definition rendition is both impressive and respectful of the source material and should please fans of the film no end.
Detail is top notch, with resounding fine object detail and welcome clarity on both facial close-ups and clothing and setting textures, sweeping out and including even the broader panoramic establishing shots. Devoid of almost any print damage and digital defects – as stated DNR is not an issue; edge enhancement never rears its head; and there’s no noticeable scratches and source anomalies – it offers up Octopussy in clean and clear fashion, with a healthy level of naturally filmic grain pervading the piece and reminding you that any DNR work done was done sparingly.
The colour scheme is well-represented, offering up the broad exotic flavours of India in rich and vibrant fashion, whilst black levels are strong allowing for impressive night time sequences and healthy shadow detail. Skin tones are reasonably natural and overall there is very little to complain about here. Again, not quite demo quality, but certainly one of the better Lowry works.
On the aural front the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also fairly impressive, ranking in as a very good offering in amidst the other Bond accompaniments, and keenly balancing dialogue, effects and music with welcome results. The dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the frontal array where necessary. Effects are well represented – from the explosive opening aerial pre-credits sequence to the Tuk-Tuk chase; the safari hunt; the train set-piece; the palace assault and the aerial finale. There’s some nice separation evident during the two plane-based sequences, with the surrounds taking you to new heights; and gunshots have a reasonably penetrative punch to them, whilst animal roars and jungle ambience is pushed to give a nice atmosphere in some of the more heady moments. The score, bolstered by the opening title track, takes precedence wherever required, and is given decent treatment across the array, without outweighing the rest of the components. LFE input is also welcome, although not necessarily resounding. Overall it’s a good, sometimes great and never dull accompaniment which again vastly improves on the tracks that adorned the disc’s predecessors.
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 Octopussy, whilst not necessarily one of the best-loved entries, certainly has a set of extras which would say otherwise.
Sporting two solid Commentaries, we also have 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.
Commentary by Sir Roger Moore – another great listen from Moore, whose self-depreciating, nostalgic tracks are arguably the highlights of the extras on this era of Bond movies.
Commentary by Director John Glen – a solo effort from Glen which ranks in better than some of the cut-and-paste jobs done on the other releases; Glen is a little slow, but does give us plenty of welcome insight into the production.
Declassified: MI6 Vault
Shooting Stunts Part I: Crashing the Jeeps – a quick 4-minute look behind the pre-credits sequence.
Shooting Stunts Part II: The Airplane Crash – a shorter 3-minute look at the climax.
Ken Burns’s On-Set Movie – a 7-minute video diary by one of the teenage extras who shot this Super-8 footage whilst working on the set.
On Location with Peter Lamont – 5 minutes of location scouting footage from the production designer.
Testing the Limits – The Aerial Team – 5 minutes looking at the amazing stunts done, including hanging onto – and scuffling on – a plane mid-flight.
James Brolin Original Screentests – here we get just over 11 minutes of background footage dedicated to the work done with Brolin when they planned to have him replace Moore. Unfortunately, although a retrospective Brolin is very pleasant about it all, the footage only highlights just how awkward he was in the role, especially when juxtaposed with Moore’s assuredness.
James Bond in India – Original 1983 Featurette – a half-hour vintage documentary featuring original cast and crew interviews taken on-set, and plenty of behind the scenes footage (as well as, of course, numerous clips from the final film). Worth checking out though.
Inside Octopussy – An Original Documentary – another half-hour documentary, this time a retrospective one which mostly features the crew members (including the director) examining the production process in a fair amount of detail, from the casting troubles to the stunt work and exotic settings.
Designing Bond – Peter Lamont – a further 21 minutes dedicated to the set designer who took over from Ken Adams for the second era of Bond films (through to Brosnan’s reign)
“All Time High” Music Video – another ‘fake’ music video, actually just showing the credits sequence, just without the titles playing over it.
Storyboard Sequences – here we get to spend almost 7 minutes looking at two sequences: the Taxi Chase and Bond Rescues Octopussy.
Exotic Locations – 5 minutes in the company of Maud Adams, who shows us the exotic settings.
Ministry of Propaganda
Theatrical Archive – a selection of four original theatrical trailers.
The disc is rounded off by an Image Database with some photo and poster galleries.
“Mr Bond is indeed of a very rare breed... soon to be made extinct.”
Pulled back in to reluctantly reprise the role due to double-agent Sean Connery’s treasonous and inferior rival 007 outing, Never Say Never Again, Roger Moore was clearly well past his prime when he made the less-loved 13th official Bond entry, Octopussy, but still managed to pull off an undeniably classic outing, continuing the Cold War theme re-established in the darker For Your Eyes Only, whilst injecting a exotic new flavour to the mix, as well as some grand-standing stunt sequences. Worth revisiting, Octopussy is better than critics would have you believe, once again proving the endless breadth and diversity of the franchise.
As part of the Bond 50 set, Octopussy comes with very good video and audio presentations which mark a considerable step up from DVD and certainly showcase the film better than it has ever looked before. 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. Octopussy 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.
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