Thunderball [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - MGM Home Entertainment/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (25th November 2008).
The Film

Trying to follow up 'From Russia with Love' and 'Goldfinger' with anything is a hard prospect. Appropriately, producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli and director Terence Young throw themselves all in for this big Bond extravaganza. Indeed, as you learn in the commentary, the movie had four shooting units, which should tell you how big they wanted everything to be.

This time, secret agent James Bond (Sean Connery) is ostensibly on the hunt for a couple of stolen nuclear bombs, trying to hunt down SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo (Adolpho Celi). However, the plot meanders quite a bit, and is less linear than most other Bond movie. The difference here is that Bond meets the villain relatively early on and circles around him, instead of trying to plow through dozens of minions to get to the bad guy for the climax.

This makes the cat and mouse game quite interesting. He has to outsmart Emilio, and seduce and try to turn his girlfriend, Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), against Emilio. It's a different take on what had been seen before, and changes the tone of the series. However, the director keeps everything moving, yet keeps the tension as high as it can be. Mr. Young also injects his typically classy touch. One-line quips and double entendre are both funny and witty. Bond had never been more assured or sophisticated, even though he doesn't mind duking it out with dozens of minions to get to the bad guy during the climactic fight sequence.

Taking place in the Bahamas, the movie naturally has many underwater sequences, directed with great skill. Shot entirely underwater, one of the climactic fight scenes is both intense and wildly ambitious. Trying to direct a dozen or so people fighting and stabbing each other, while trying let viewers know where Bond is situated in relation to everybody else is no easy task, but editor Peter Hunt is a master and makes every pretty comprehensible.

The action is quick and Bond is still suave and sexy. Sean Connery had a few more Bonds in him after this, and he only got better. 'Thunderball' isn't as good as the previous two Bond movies, but the filmmakers did try to make it bigger and better. It is, however, very enjoyable and worth watching, whatever your favorite Bond movie may be.

Video

2.35:1 widescreen, using the MPEG4/AVC codec. Like the other early Bond films released, 'Thunderball' looks stunning, better than it should. Any sort of print defect is completely gone, leaving a very clean print (save for one or two little hairs in a couple of shots), with a slight amount of grain left. There's no noise anywhere in the movie and the level of detail is very nice. Colours are accurate, with skin tones having the right hues and black levels being very strong with slight definition. The shadow detail is a bit low, but this is hardly much of a criticism. The picture looks terrific.

Audio

The main track is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, though the original English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is also included. A French Dolby Digital 5.1 dub, as well as a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono are also included. The lossless track is very nice, remaining very faithful through the upmix. The dialogue is clear from start to finish, never being muffled or mixed in too low. The score is spread across the front speakers and seeps into the rears at times. The various other effects are mostly in the front, but crowds surround you when they have to. Everything is clear and clean, with volume levels being quite natural. It's a good mix.
English (HoH) and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

With 'Thunderball', MGM really packs in the extras, making this a must-own package full of infomration die hard fans love to hear. First off are two audio commentaries. The first is with director Terence Young and cast and crew (moderated by John Cort, as are all the other commentaries recorded for the mid-1990s laserdiscs). As with the other tracks in this series, this is a bit dry, but very informative, as Ian Fleming Foundation honcho John Cort gives out heaps of fascinating information. For example, there were four units for this movie. He also gives out stories of the legal troubles, and editing tweaks to save on reshoots. The actors and crew talk about various things, but mostly give out funny little tidbits anecdotes about the director. Stories of the sets, the locations and the actors abound, making this a must-hear for fans of the series. The second track is with editor Peter Hunt, screenwriter John Hopkins and others (and John Cort). At one point in this track, you listen to an entire scene in German. There is a reason for this, as Mr. Cort ties it back to the movie's global popularity. He also mentions the different cuts made for the various home video releases, and the work the Ian Fleming Foundation and MGM/UA did to restore 'Thunderball' to its original glory. Mr. Hunt also gives out information about the various editing decisions he made, explaining why there are continuity errors and why he intentionally adds them in at time. The track isn't as interesting as the first one, though it's a very nice listen, because you do hear about the James Bond shaving cream and aftershave tie-ins.

The next section is Declassified: MI6 Vault, which has a few really nice featurettes. First is The Incredible World of James Bond Original 1965 NBC Television Special (50:54), which is pretty interesting. The special follows the Bond universe through to 'Thunderball'. There's a bit of information about the movies, then the ladies, the gagdets, Bond's history and the writer are shown. It's very nice and a good way to play catch up for anybody who hasn't read the books. A Child's Guide to Blowing Up a Motor Car 1965 Ford Promotional Film (17:08) is a funny little promo piece with the catch of an uncle brining his nephew to the film set. It's a nice take on the standard promo piece, as they show you what happens on set during an explosion sequence. It's pretty funny, with a darkly comic ending.

On Location with Ken Adam (13:06) has raw footage from the shoot, while he talks over this footage, telling you what you're seeing and giving out funny stories from the set. Bill Suitor: The Rocket man Movies (3:54) is a bit short, but basically talks about the jet pack used in the opening sequence, as told by the man that flew the thing. 'Thunderball' Boat Show Reel is a promo reel assembled for a boat show and is a much-trimmed version of the big underwater fight sequence. There are a slew of Selling Bonds Original 1965 Television Commercials ('James Bond Commercial 007 Raincoat' (0:30), 'James Bond Commercial 007 Slacks' (0:33) and 'James Bond Commercial 007 Action Pack Toys' (1:00)) showing you how many insane the merchandsing was for this movie. The Credits (1:47) for the Declassified section is here as well.

The fancy scene selection tool, 007 Mission Control is also here, and you can find scenes based on: '007', 'Women', 'Allies', 'Villains', 'Mission Combat Manual', 'Q Branch' and 'Exotic Locations'.

The Mission Dossier is next, porting over the previous edition's extras. The Making of 'Thunderball' (27:34) is very nice, taking you through the legal troubles and huge production. The featurette, as usual, is filled with great information fans will devour. Likewise, The 'Thunderball' Phenomenon (31:04) tracks the rising Bond popularity hitting its crescendo with 'Thunderball'. It tracks are the wacky marketing and merchandsing tie-ins with the movie. It also mentions the massive amounts of money the movie madea t the time of its release. (For comparison purposes, in the all-time adjusted grosses, 'Thunderball' ranks right next to 'The Dark Knight' for US releases.) The Secret History of 'Thunderball' (3:56) is a small featurettte comparing the differences between the original version of 'Thunderball' to the pre-1995 home video release.

The Ministry of Propaganda has a Theatrical Archive, with 'Get the Point' (3:06), 'What an Operator' (2:57) and 'Two Biggest Bonds' (2:21). Some TV Broadcasts show various TV ads, 'Strikes Like Thunderball' (0:59), 'Look Up, Look Down, Look Out' (1:00), 'Two for One Bonds' (1:00), 'Bond Sale' (0:20) and '"Thunderball" and "From Russia with Love" Double Bill' (0:11). Radio Communication has a ton of radio ads: 'Introduction' (by John Cort) (0:11), 'The Biggest Bond of All' (0:51), 'See Sean Connery in "Thunderball"' (0:25), 'Here Comes "Thunderball"' (0:16), 'Look Up, Look Down, Look Out' (0:28), 'James Bond Does it Everywhere' (0:28), 'Sean Connery in "Thunderball"' (0:18), 'Here comes the Biggest Bond of All' (0:24), 'One Motion Picture' (0:55), '"Thunderball" and "You Only Live Twice"' (0:27) and 'Sean Conner is James Bond' (0:09). If you can watch all of these and tell me how many times 'Bond' is mentioned, you have better powers of concentration than I do.

Lastly is an Image Database, showing you a nice amount of pictures for Portraits, The Aston Martin, Chateau D'Anet, Pinder's Shop, Searching for the Vulcan, Romance Beneath the Waves, Underwater Action, The Final Fight, The Pinewood Tank, 'Thunderball' Around the World and some of the weird Merchandising.

Overall

The Film: B Video: B+ Audio: B Extras: A- Overall: B+

 


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