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Of all the 1960ís James Bond adventures, THUNDERBALL ($35) has to be the biggest, most opulent production. Following on the heels of the enormous success of GOLDFINGER, the producers pulled out all the stops to create THUNDERBALL- a completely unforgettable Bond outing. The first thing one will notice about THUNDERBALL is the fact that this movie was filmed in Panavision, unlike the previous films, which were shot in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Having the full scope ratio of 2.35:1 gave THUNDERBALL a visual splendor not found in the earlier exploits of 007. THUNDERBALL had no trouble filling the wide screen with an amazing production designs, incredible action and some of the best underwater sequences ever to be filmed (thank you Ricou Browning). With THUNDERBALL, Sean Connery makes his forth appearance as British secret agent James Bond, yet he shows no sign of becoming stale in the role. In fact, this film only goes to show that Connery was actually getting better and better in each successive Bond adventure.

The plot of THUNDERBALL concerns stolen nuclear weapons being used by the criminal organization known as SPECTRE to hold the world hostage. Unless their ransom demands are met, SPECTRE threatens to unleash the nuclear weapons on a major city. Of course, Her Majestyís government deploys all of their top agents, including James Bond, to recover the weapons before SPECTRE can carry out their deadly threat. Bond immediately finds himself on the inside track, jetting off to the Bahamas to find the missing nukes. The trail leads Bond to SPECTRE operative Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), who is keeping the weapons under wraps and underwater. THUNDERBALL climaxes with a spectacular all out underwater battle that has yet to be topped by any other film. The cast of THUNDERBALL features Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi, Rik Van Nutter, Guy Doleman, Molly Peters, Martine Beswick, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THUNDERBALL available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Because of the digital restoration work provided by Lowry Digital Images, the 1080p presentation for THUNDERBALL is truly outstanding. Clarity, image sharpness, dimensionality and fine detail have never been better than what is exhibited on this Blu-ray release. Of course, the level of clarity does make the limitations in the original optical effects a little more obvious, but fortunately, only brief snippets truly stand out. However, the underwater cinematography for the frogman battle sequence still impresses this Bond fan to no end. Color reproduction is excellent, with the hues being fully saturated and appealing. Flesh tones look good, without too much makeup being in evidence. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast and shadow detail get top marks for a sixties production. The film elements have been give a near total digital scrubbing, with only a handful of blemishes remaining. Grain appears quite minimal, however this does not appear to reduce fine detail in any way, and the presentation never appears digitally over processed.

THUNDERBALL is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is another wonderful re-purposing of the original monaural soundtrack materials. As expected, the mix is favors the forward soundstage. Directional effects are well placed, but not pushed to such an exaggerated level that one is taken out of the movie experience. Again, the score and theme song are given a nice spread throughout the outlying channels. Fidelity is quite good, but lossless encoding cannot disguise limitations in the over four decade old recordings. Dialogue is crisp and easy to understand. French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the disc, as are English and Spanish monaural tracks. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplements. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries the first is with director Terence Young and members of the cast and crew, while the second includes editor Peter Hunt, screenwriter John Hopkins and crew. Next is the fifty-minute program The Incredible World Of James Bond. Other Featurettes include: The Thunderball Phenomenon (thirty-minutes), The Making Of Thunderball (twenty-seven minutes), A Child's Guide To Blowing Up A Motor Car (seventeen minutes), On Location With Ken Adam (thirteen minutes) The Secret History Of Thunderball (four minutes), Bill Suitor: The Rocket Man Movies (four minutes), Alternate Title Sequence (three minutes) Locations (three minutes) and Thunderball Boat Show Reel (three minutes). Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots and a large Image Database of stills and promotional materials close out the supplements.

THUNDERBALL represents the 1960ís era Bond franchise at its most opulent. The Blu-ray presentation is truly outstanding- another totally worthwhile upgrade for Bond fans. Highly recommended.



Thunderball (James Bond) [Blu-ray] (1965)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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