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For Your Eyes Only – Blu-ray Disc Review

March 23, 2009 – 10:58 AM - Posted by: James Segars

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Blu-ray Disc Review

4 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 6.8 on IMDb
4 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
3 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio / Stereo
3 out of 5 starsBonus Materials are slim, but still good.
Rated:PG
Year: – 1981
Length: – 127 minutes
Studio:MGM
Region:Region 1 (A)


Overall VerdictRecommended

Buy it for $19.49 @ Amazon.com
Buy it for $19.49 @ Amazon.com


— Review written by: James Segars

Trailer:


The Movie Itself is directed by John Glen (Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, License to Kill).

Following on the heels of one of the more “out of this world” Bond films — Moonraker — the decision was made early on that James Bond’s twelfth outing would need to be far more grounded in reality, and so the creative forces behind cinema’s most recognizable character went back to the basics: minimal gadgetry, earthly locales and more serious James Bond. The result was For Your Eyes Only, a film that is hardly “edgy” — especially when considering the most recent entries — but still maintains a more sedate tone than Moore’s previous entries, and in the end, all of the ingredients make for a pleasing, entertaining and fulfilling James Bond experience.

Growing up, my brother and I watched this film repeatedly — along with The Man With The Golden Gun — and the same goes for many of Roger Moore’s films. I think at a young age, we simply found them more entertaining than the rest. His comedic delivery resonated with us, and we were more concerned with that than whether or not the plot made sense. These days, that’s not the case, and as I return to childhood favorites, I’m wary of what I might find. Worried that they won’t measure up to the fond memories I have tucked away. As you can imagine from this intro, it’s been more than a few years since I’ve seen this film, and so when finally I sat down to review it, I was equal parts excited and nervous.

Thankfully, it was every bit the film that I remembered from my youth. The action still enthralled and entertained. The women more gorgeous than I remember. And the underwater sequences still captivating. On the one hand though, the movie hasn’t aged quite as gracefully as the other Bond films, due to the intense eighties vibe that emanates from the contemporary soundtrack, but it doesn’t really detract from the film. In some ways I think it makes the film slightly more entertaining.

Beyond my sentiments, the film marks two milestones: the authorship of a screenplay by Michael G. Wilson, and the directorial mantle being passed to John Glen. Fans of the Bond films should instantly recognize Wilson’s name. The step-son of long time producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, who began producing on Moonraker, was given the opportunity to write for the film, and his efforts continued through to the end of John Glen’s directorial run, which leads me to the second milestone. Having helmed five Bond films in total, John Glen holds the record for the most Bond films under his belt, as well as the most consecutive Bond films — he carried the franchise from 1981 to 1989. Where I happen to like nearly all of Glen’s 007 pictures, many fans believe that he delivered some of the weaker films in the collection, directly following For Your Eyes Only. And while I don’t agree with that statement, this review is hardly the appropriate place to come to his defense. At a later time, when the other films make their way to Blu-ray, perhaps I’ll go into more detail.

At any rate, For Your Eyes Only is definitely one of Roger Moore’s best pictures, and as such it should comes as little surprise that it still maintains its allure to this day.

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc) and presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

Even though For Your Eyes Only was shot years after the Connery films, it’s important to remember that the decades in which the Bond films were made end up dictating far more than style alone. For example, the production design and cinematographic techniques have changed drastically from 1962 until now, and FYEO is no exception. Muted color tones, and more organic, detailed sets became the norm — a significant departure from Ken Adam’s production design. All of these things matter with regard to evaluating and comparing the video presentation of this film with the others.

I felt it necessary to include that primer because I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from the presentation here. I had last seen the film on DVD upon its release, and I remember being underwhelmed — that the restoration was far more impressive with titles like Dr. No, or From Russia With Love. Well, I’m happy to report that For Your Eyes Only looks much better than I was anticipating. Where the DVD was often murky and plagued with occasional macroblocking, this Blu-ray presentation is like a breath of fresh air. Fine object detail is quite good, colors are stable, and black levels are right where they need to be. It still doesn’t impress me the way that the earlier restorations do, but its difficult to say whether or not there could be more done to the film to clean it up. In the end, while it might not be visually stunning by some people’s standards, it still exemplifies a fine video presentation, and for that it easily takes home a “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality.

Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.

Call me crazy, but I really didn’t like audio presentation very much. I’ve seen that many people have given the presentation very high marks, but I can’t imagine giving this anything above a “3 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. Fearing that my disc might be poorly authored/mastered, I got together with my boss/co-writer Justin Sluss and we watched it simultaneously so I could point out troublesome areas, and general deficiencies.

As it turns out, much of the stuff that I took note of, Justin corroborated as well — and just to make sure I wasn’t influencing his perceptions, I simply asked if he heard anything strange. By now, you’re probably wondering just what it is that I heard. Well, for starters, I found that some of the dialogue throughout the film sounded as if it were peaking, or crackling. Sadly, the crackling wasn’t limited to dialog alone. Various sound effects also sounded as if they were pushed to the limit and mixed too hot. Even more bizarre is the fact that the front L/R channels seemed unbalanced, with poor prioritization of stereo effects leaving the front soundstage in constant flux, where one side would — in my case, the left channel — dominate the other. This really had me scratching my head, and I found myself stopping the movie at least three times, checking and re-checking my speaker levels with my trusty SPL meter, to no avail.

It wasn’t until I switched over to the original Dolby stereo track — down from the DTS-MA 5.1 — that things began to sound more normal. In fact, I liked it so much that I decided to let my receiver matrix the surround track via PLxII, and the auditory anomalies were gone for the most part — save for the dialog issue. While that will comfort the audio purists, I still felt obliged to finish out the remainder of the film with the lossless format, since that will be the audio format of choice for most fans, and I also felt it was necessary to keep an ear out for any other problems, should the arise. The good news — yes, there’s a bit of it — is that many of the issues I experienced seemed to occur during the first half of the film. As time rolls on, dialog seems unaffected and pure. The mix, a bit more even across the channels. And the peaking/crackling is less prevalent. Still, even towards the end, the problems rear their nasty heads from time to time, always in the same spots. It is a shame. I feel like this track had a lot of potential that’s overshadowed by these flaws.

In the end, after three separate level checks, a couple q-tips (to clean my ears out, just in case) and whole lot of chatter between myself and Justin, we’ve decided that something is most definitely afoot with the audio presentation on this disc. It doesn’t sound awful by any means, but we feel that sensitive listeners that know the film well will definitely pick up on the audio deficiencies. Of course, if you’re a purist, or you’re up to give the DD 2.0 track a whirl, you will be none-the-wiser and you’ll probably walk away thinking the film sounds perfectly fine. As it stands though, the lossless track provided here has some glaring issues that brings down an otherwise fine presentation.

(Note: I’ve since played the disc in a number of players, on a variety of HT setups, and the problems still remain)


Bonus Materials are presented primarily in 480p SD, with select features getting the HD (1080i) treatment. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.

  • MI6 Commentary – A collection of three separate commentaries.
    1. Commentary by Sir Roger Moore: Moore admits early on that the commentary will be more like a one-sided conversation, and that he doesn’t remember much, but judging from the track here, he sells himself a bit short. He has plenty to offer, and while he doesn’t keep the commentary moving at a brisk pace, I found it to be both informative and relaxing, given his labored speech pattern, easing tone.

      Commentary by Director John Glen and members of the cast: This another assembly of audio clips/interviews assembled and hosted by a narrator, and while I still believe that this would have worked well/better as a BonusView feature, I found this to be the most entertaining assembly yet.

      Commentary by Michael G. Wilson and crew: Still another assembly, but not quite as good the previous one. I would have much preferred that Wilson do a dedicated commentary like Roger Moore. That’s what I was expecting to hear, and while there is still plenty of good information here, I feel like Wilson deserves his own very own track.

  • Declassified: MI6 Vault” contains a few featurettes, deleted scenes and disc production credits.
    1. Deleted Scenes and Expanded Angles HD/SD – (5 minutes) – We get two deleted scenes and one multi-angled scene of Bond pushing Locque of the cliff. The deleted scenes are a nice inclusion but the multi-angle sequence is just filler.

      Bond in Greece SD – (6 minutes) – A wonderful featurette hosted by the informative and insightful writer/producer, Michael G. Wilson, that explores some of the joys and difficulties with shooting on location in Greece.

      Bond in Cortina SD – (4 minutes) – Another featurette hosted by Wilson, that turns its focus to on-location stories/reminiscence about shooting in — you guessed it — Cortina. Personally, I liked the Greece one better, but this one is just fine.

      Neptune’s Journey SD – (4 minutes) – Again, this is narrated by Wilson who speaks about briefly about the underwater photography in the Bahamas — that doubled for Greece — and the Ian Fleming foundation that works to preserve various pieces of Bond history. In this case, they’ve since taken and preserved the Neptune submarine you see in the film.

      Credits SD – (2 minutes) – Production credits for this disc release.

  • 007 Mission Control” presents the viewer with indexed scenes/segments relevant to James Bond’s mission at hand. While this is an interesting feature, I can’t help but think that people will opt for the Mission Select (Scene Selection) over this, or simply grow confused over the functionality of this feature.
  • Mission Dossier” explores the making-of For Your Eyes Only and is presented in 1080i.
    1. Inside For Your Eyes Only HD/SD – (30 minutes) – A mixture of film elements and talking heads, this feature was everything I could have asked for. Despite my love for the film, I knew very little about the pre/production of this Bond outing. Fans will be pleased with the information disclosed, and the variety of retrospective material showcased here.

      Animated Storyboard Sequence – Snowmobile Chase SD – (1 minute) – Provides an alternative version of the motorcycle chase in hand-drawn pre-production fashion.

      Animated Storyboard Sequence – Underwater SD – (2 minutes) – Features comparisons between the storyboard elements and some of the key underwater sequences of the film.

      Sheena Easton Music Video SD – (3 minutes) – An SD version of the title track, as performed by Sheena Easton, without any titling (credits) overlay.

  • Ministry of Propaganda” presents many of the old marketing tools for the film. They are divided into three different groups.
    1. Theatrical Archive HD – (4 minutes) – contains a single theatrical trailer for the film.

      TV Broadcasts SD – (12 minutes) – three broadcast promotions advertising the film. Despite these being labeled differently, they all run four minutes in length and appear to be exactly the same thing. On top of that, all three of them are simply SD versions of the HD trailer included in the ‘Theatrical Archive.’ I wish I had an explanation, but my guess is that there was some sort of mix-up in the authoring process.

      Radio Communication HD (backdrop) – (1 minute) – features two radio spots.

  • Image Database” contains a very good amount of still production and behind-the-scenes photos from the film.

Overall the the bonus materials are slimmer in quantity — when compared to the Connery films — but I feel that the quality of the select segments seen here are of equal quality, and equally informative/entertaining.


Blu-ray Disc packaging:


Screenshots:

NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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