Diamonds Are Forever appears in an aspect ratio of approximately
2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Diamonds mixes ups and downs to create an erratic but generally satisfactory transfer.
Sharpness seemed pretty crisp and clear during most of the film. Any softness was minor, as the majority of the film demonstrated solid clarity. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no problems, and no edge enhancement seemed to appear. Print flaws also caused no distractions. If any defects occurred, I missed them; this presentation looked smooth and clean.
Colors were generally positive but they had some lapses. The movie took on a slight brown cast at times, so the hues weren’t as vivid on a consistent basis as I’d like. Still, I thought they were appealing most of the time.
The movie tended to be a little too bright, which led to the slightly pale tones. Again, this wasn’t a fatal flaw, but it meant the transfer wasn’t as accurate as expected. In the end, it looked good enough for a “B”, though it could’ve been better.
In addition to the flick’s original monaural track, we got a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that broadened matters well and opened up the spectrum. Music showed excellent stereo imaging, and effects also presented good breadth. They spread across the front channels and used the surrounds to bolster the material. Some localized speech also materialized. The track didn’t dazzle, but it provided a nice sense of atmosphere and action.
Audio quality was also solid. Music fared best, as the score and songs always seemed bright and lively. Effects and speech showed their age but were more than acceptable. The lines were intelligible and concise, while effects showed good distinctiveness. Low-end response seemed especially impressive, as louder elements demonstrated nice rumble and punch. Overall, this remix was strong.
How did this Blu-ray compare with the 2006 Ultimate Edition release? Audio sounded peppier and more dynamic, while visuals were better defined and smoother. This might not be as strong a transfer as I’d like, but it’s still the best we’ve gotten to date.
The disc provides most of the DVD’s extras, and these include an audio commentary from various members of the cast and crew. Hosted by David Naylor, this piece edits together interviews with director Guy Hamilton, co-screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, composer John Barry, actors Jill St. John, Joe Robinson, Marc Lawrence, Lana Wood, Bruce Glover, Shane Rimmer, Trina Parks, Jimmy Dean and Putter Smith, production designer Ken Adam, set decorator Peter Lamont, continuity supervisor Elaine Schreyeck, stuntman George Leech and lyricist Don Black.
The commentary provides a solid look at the movie via a variety of different topics. The discussion covers basic biographies of a few of the participants and we also get a nice combination of nuts and bolts details about the production. Other aspects cover fact about various plot points - both used and discarded - and some fun anecdotes.
Some folks don't care for this type of edited commentary, but I enjoy them because they usually are much tighter and more coherent than "screen-specific" examples. The track for Diamonds works very well and provides a lot of interesting and compelling information about the movie and its creators.
We get seven elements under the banner of Declassified: MI6 Vault. Sean Connery 1971: The BBC Interview fills five minutes, 13 seconds. The actor discusses how he’d changed since he started to play Bond, and also looks at why he returned to the series. He also reflects on other aspects of his life and career. This piece is moderately interesting for historical reasons but it doesn’t tell us much.
For some stunt info, we get the four-minute and 36-second Lesson #007: Close Quarter Combat. Narrated by Guy Hamilton, this looks at the movie’s elevator fight sequence. Another archival piece, this one proves more informative. We see fight rehearsals and other behind the scenes elements used to create the scene. It’s good little featurette.
More violence shows up in Oil Rig Attack. The two-minute and 22-second featurette offers narration from series producer Michael Wilson. He tells us about an abandoned sequence as we watch clips shot for it. Though too raw to qualify as deleted scenes, these unused tidbits are quite interesting to see.
Called Satellite Test Reel, a one-minute, 55-second clip shows just that. Along with more info from Wilson, we examine the development of the related effects. This involves storyboards, test footage and final film. Similar material appears in the one-minute and 53-second collection of Explosion Tests. Wilson talks about the blasts created for the flick as we watch the various elements. Both segments provide a fine examination of effects circa 1971.
Alternate and Expanded Angles allow us different views of five scenes. We can inspect “Elevator Fight” (2:47, 4 options), “Vegas Car Chase” (4:41, 3 options), “Moonbuggy Chase” (3:15, 1 option), “Bambi & Thumper” (3:26, 1 option), and “Bond Arrives on the Oil Rig” (1:54, 1 option). All offer fun material as they let us check out various portions of the shoot.
Six Deleted Scenes finish this area. These include “Sammy Davis Jr.” (1:07), “Killing Shady Tree” (0:50), “Dinner With Plenty” (1:17), “Plenty Returns…” (0:50), “Through the Alley… Again” 0:59), and “Mr. and Mrs. Jones …In the Bridal Suite” (2:33).
“Davis” is the most interesting since it includes the performer as himself, but the other five are reasonably entertaining as well. None of them stand out as lost treasure, but they’re good to examine.
Heading to Mission Dossier, we begin with Inside Diamonds Are Forever. Hosted by Patrick Macnee, this 30-minute and 40-second feature follows the usual format of these Bonds pieces.
We find mid-Nineties interviews with most of the same participants we heard from in the commentary - plus 1971 snippets from Connery - combined with a variety of film clips, production photos and outtakes. The latter are somewhat unusual for these programs but they add a lot of information, especially in the way they help illustrate an interesting continuity problem.
Some of the subjects covered in the commentary are touched upon here as well, but the viewpoints and details are different enough to make the documentary stand on its own. For example, we learn new facts about Connery's involvement and the attitudes taken by the producers to get the series back on track after the relative failure of 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It's a very solid and compelling program.
A second video segment pays tribute to one of the longtime Bond producers. Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond runs for 41 minutes, 23 seconds, and it provides a decent biography of the series' main supporter. Through the program, we find a nice mix of personal photos, publicity materials, and interviews with those who knew Broccoli.
The show focuses mainly on comments from Broccoli's family, including wife Dana, son Michael Wilson, and daughter Barbara. Some others appear as well - including friend Robert Wagner – but the relatives dominate. This adds a nice personal component though I think it may have made the program less frank than it could have been. Still, it's an interesting documentary, and I really enjoyed the parts with Barbara - what a babe!
Exotic Locations (4:25) also gives us a narrated set of clips. Maud Adams chats over the scenes and tells us about the locations. This turns into a decent overview.
In the Ministry of Propaganda, we find some promotional materials. There are two trailers: a "Christmas" teaser and the theatrical ad. The latter was interesting if just because it featured a line about Plenty's name that was cut from the final film. In addition, the disc provides five TV spots, none of which is especially fascinating, and three radio ads. These are also nothing special, but I appreciate their inclusion.
Within the Image Database we find a set of photo galleries. This area breaks down into 12 subheadings, each with between 2 and 16 shots for a total of 86 pictures. This makes the collection less substantial than those of most Bonds, but it still offers some nice images. a
Diamonds Are Forever isn't top-notch Bond, but it's a decent effort that merits a viewing. Its lead’s apparent lack of interest makes it drag somewhat, though. The Blu-ray offers mostly positive visuals along with excellent audio and supplements. Diamonds remains mediocre Bond.
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