Thunderball: Ultimate Edition (1965)

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Released 1-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Terrence Young (Director), et al
Audio Commentary-Peter Hunt (Editor), John Hopkins (Screenwriter), et al
Featurette-Bill Suitor: The Rocket Man Movies
Featurette-A Child's Guide To Blowing Up A Motor Car
Featurette-James Bond Commercials
Featurette-Ken Adam's Production Film
Featurette-The Incredible World Of James Bond
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Inside Thunderball, The Thunderball Phenomenon
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer-Archive
Gallery-Photo
TV Spots-Broadcasts
Radio Spots-Commercials
Featurette-Exotic Locations
Featurette-Scene Selections; Textless Opening Credits
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 124:55
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:53)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terence Young
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Sean Connery
Claudine Auger
Adolfo Celi
Luciana Paluzzi
Rik Van Nutter
Guy Doleman
Molly Peters
Martine Beswick
Bernard Lee
Desmond Llewelyn
Lois Maxwell
Roland Culver
Earl Cameron
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Finnish
Danish
Greek
Hindi
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Star: Perennial favourite Sean Connery stars as James Bond. Produced in 1965 and Directed by Terrence Young, this was Connery's fourth film in the role of British Secret Agent 007. Interestingly, this was the first Bond film to actually use Connery in the film's opening gun barrel sequence. The first three had used a stunt double in his place.

    What's he up against?: International terror organisation SPECTRE has procured two nuclear weapons from a lost NATO flight and is using them to hold the entire northern hemisphere to ransom. One hundred million Pounds Sterling in uncut diamonds is their demand.

    The Girls: If there's one thing that can be said for Thunderball, there's no shortage of gorgeous women. Claudine Auger co-stars as the innocent and misguided Domino while Luciana Paluzzi contradicts this with a cool, ruthless performance as red-haired SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpa. Martine Beswick serves as Paula Kaplan, bond's Nassau assistant. Molly Peters as Patricia Fearing gives Bond a good working over at a health retreat. A young Jane Asher can be seen next to Connery for most of the Casino scene, although she hardly qualifies as a Bond girl. Asher was engaged to Paul McCartney at this time, who later composed the theme for Live and Let Die.

    The Gadgets: This time around, the villains have most impressive toys! The Disco Volanté is an astonishingly versatile yacht that is capable of detaching its rear hull, converting into a hydrofoil. Perfect for that last minute getaway! Thanks to Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Bond is issued with a few interesting pieces, such as a wrist-watch that doubles as a Geiger counter and a pocket-size SCUBA device. The film's opening scene also sees Bond making his departure via an impressive rocket-pack.

    The Action: Thunderball boasts one of the most complex and expertly filmed underwater action scenes ever attempted. The underwater sequence was directed by Ricou Browning and employed an underwater production staff of over 60 divers.

    The Theme Song: Tom Jones performs the title theme, easily one of the best and most memorable of them all, however this was not the Producer's original intention. Both Shirley Bassey and Dionne Warwick recorded themes for the opening sequence, a tune titled Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Warwick's rendition can be heard in the second audio commentary, while a clip of Bassey's theme can be heard in the Thunderball Phenomenon featurette.

    The Locations: The film opens in Paris, the home of SPECTRE's headquarters. Much of the remainder of the film is set in Nassau (The Bahamas), where at this time The Beatles had recently wrapped shooting of their second film, Help!.

    Personal Thoughts: Thunderball wasn't the first Bond film I experienced, however it became my favourite as soon as I saw it. For me, it just seems to have the best of everything; the best girls, the best action, and it is certainly the peak of Connery's reign as 007.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Lowry have done an exceptional job with the restoration of these films. Originally issued on DVD in 2000, the old Special Edition of Thunderball was rife with visual flaws, ranging from scratches and dirt to colour inconsistencies and telecine wobble. I particularly noticed the composite effects shots, such as the close-ups of Connery in the rocket outfit, have been improved considerably in this Ultimate Edition by reducing grain and shimmering effects. I have no doubt that this is the best the film has ever looked on any medium to date.

    Thunderball has been transferred to DVD in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This was the first Bond film to be shot and screened in this aspect ratio.

    The overall image is sharp and clear, however I did notice a few inconsistencies in clarity between scenes. I would put these down to inaccurate focus pulling and I doubt these minor instances of softness would be a problem to the average viewer. Black levels are strong and deep when they need to be while shadow detail is similarly accurate. This film contains quite a few dimly lit underwater scenes that could easily become a nightmare, but they are transferred beautifully here. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    The film's colouring is strong and consistent, with realistic skin tones. One facet of the old Special Edition transfer that annoyed me was the red hue that dominated the image and made the entire cast appear as though they suffered from high blood pressure. There are no such problems here.

    I'm very happy to report that the transfer is completely free of any MPEG compression artefacting, blocking or grain. Haloing and edge enhancement are also absent. Film artefacts such as hairs, dust and dirt have been removed completely, although a very slight film-like graininess remains in some scenes, hardly worth mentioning. I noted some minor aliasing on Venetian blinds in the background at 18:55, amounting to only a brief moment of edginess. As is common for films of this vintage, some slight shakiness arises at times during image pans, but this is due to camera instability and not telecine wobble. Similarly, post production techniques of the day are difficult to correct, such as the sped-up film during action sequences and the composite shots I mentioned above, and these are intact but greatly improved. All of the fades and dissolves between scenes are also intact but appear much less clunky after being restored.

    Four English subtitle streams are provided, two of which accompany the audio commentaries. I sampled both the standard English subtitles and the English for the Hearing Impaired stream and found them moderately accurate to the spoken word and easy to follow.

    Both discs are dual layered (DVD9 formatted). The layer transition of disc one has been placed during the feature at 60:53. This is a relatively quiet moment mid-scene that shouldn't prove too obtrusive to most viewers. The layer break was completely transparent on my system.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are four soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, all of which are English language. The default soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), accompanied by a dts 5.1 (768Kb/s) equivalent that may be selected manually or on the fly. The remaining two audio options are the same audio commentaries that were included on the old Special Edition, featuring Director Terrence Young, Peter Hunt and John Hopkins. As with the video transfer, the audio has undergone significant restoration and sounds terrific, however the film's original mono soundtrack has not been included.

    The English dialogue is always distinct and easy to understand. The ADR sync does vary, with some lines more obvious than others. The scene with Luciana Paluzzi on the bed at 18:20 is a good example, as the mouth movements don't nearly match what is heard. I didn't notice any other dire audio sync issues.

    Given the age of the source material, I was pleasantly surprised at the surround usage in this mix. The score spills slightly to the rear channels, along with some atmospherics and street noise. At 7:40 a car can be heard passing on the right from rear to front. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray.

    I found that there is little to separate the Dolby Digital and dts options in this case. The depth and consistency of these soundtracks is excellent, particularly when compared to the lacklustre audio of the old Special Edition, however the output level and overall quality of these soundtracks is practically identical. At a high volume level I noticed that the dts comes across slightly smoother, but that's it.

    The film's score is by John Barry, as is the theme sung by Tom Jones. I particularly love the haunting underwater theme, a musical thread that recurs throughout the film.

    The subwoofer accentuates the score a little, as well as the explosions. Again, given the age of the film I'm both surprised and content with the degree of LFE usage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are some excellent new supplements to be found here, in addition to all of the extras from the old Special Edition.

Menus

    The menu pages contain some very smooth animation and are consistently formatted across the entire collection. An audio clip of the theme loops in the background. All of the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced.

Disc One

Audio Commentary- Terrence Young (Director) & Others

    Mediated by John Cork, a large cross-section of cast and crew contribute to this commentary, including designer Production Designer Ken Adam, underwater director Ricou Browning and actress Luciana Paluzzi. They all have interesting anecdotes to share and the flow of information is quite fast at times. Both commentaries include optional English and Dutch subtitles.

Audio Commentary- Peter Hunt (Editor), John Hopkins (Screenwriter) & Others

    This commentary follows an interview style, as Hunt discusses his career and introduction to the Bond franchise. There are a few other interesting tidbits to be found, such as Dionne Warwick's theme song (originally sung by Shirley Bassey), as well as some scenes presented in a variety of language dubs.

Credits

    A simple scrolling text, covering all those that contributed to this Ultimate Edition.

Disc Two

    The second disc is divided into five sections that separate the new extras from the old featurettes. All of the extra material is subtitled in an assortment of languages. I was very irritated to find my player completely locked for more than five minutes after playback of the The Incredible World Of James Bond featurette. Why do copyright notices in a myriad of languages need to be forced upon me? The only way of escaping this barrage of text is to eject the disc and start again, or return to the menu before the featurette ends. Incidentally, the Australian copyright warning is last of all the languages, so if by chance you did want to see the warning that pertained to Region 4, you'll have to sit through five minutes of other languages to get there.

Declassified: MI6 Vault

    This area contains featurettes that are unique to this Ultimate Edition. Some contain clips you'll recognise from the extras of the old Special Edition.

Featurette- Bill Suitor: The Rocket Man Movies (3:43)

    These are the home movies of Bill Suitor, taken while on location in France. Some narration is provided.

Featurette- A Child's Guide To Blowing Up A Motor Car (16:25)

    This tongue-in-cheek film was produced by the Ford motor company, who supplied many of the vehicles in the film. There is actually quite a bit of interesting footage captured on the set, giving an interesting glimpse at the production of the film. I can't help thinking that a film like this (mixing children and explosive devices) would probably be frowned upon nowadays, and for good reason.

Advertisements- James Bond Commercials (3)

Featurette- Ken Adam's Production Films (12:33)

    Ken Adam talks us through some of his home movies that were taken while location scouting with Terence Young, Harry Saltzman and others. He also captured some footage during the production, which is interesting to see.

Featurette- Thunderball Boat Show Reel (2:48)

    This short edit of the underwater battle was thrown together for publicity purposes while the film was still in post production. It serves as an interesting alternate edit of the scene.

Featurette- The Incredible World Of James Bond (48:46)

    United Artists made an American television special that was screened a few weeks prior to the release of Thunderball. It's cheesy to the extreme, but is interesting viewing in an historical sense.

007 Mission Control (Scene Selections)

    I don't really understand the point of this feature, but anyway, here you can access an array of clips from the film. The clips are divided into categories. Some are repeated and most have a play all function. All are presented with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) audio.

007

Women

Allies

Villains

Mission Combat Manual (Action Scenes) (3:11)

    Features five of the film's great action sequences, in particular the classic underwater battle.

Q Branch (4:33)

    There are seven scenes that feature Bond's gadgets, from his rocket pack to the underwater camera.

Exotic Locations (3:16)

    This part is a little different and features a voiceover that talks the viewer through the specific locations that were utilised during production, with clips from the film as reference. This piece has stereo audio.

Mission Dossier

    This section contains all the old featurettes from the Special Edition. None are 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Inside Thunderball (3:37)

    This short featurette discusses the various discrepancies that appear in different incarnations of the film.

Featurette - The Thunderball Phenomenon (29:48)

    Produced in 1995, this documentary takes a brief look at the film's creator and director, while examining the huge Bond following during the 60s. We're shown conceptual artwork and some of the marketing paraphernalia that accompanied the film. Cast and crew interviews are included.

Featurette - The Making Of Thunderball (26:23)

    This is a very interesting piece that, as the title suggests, explores the making of the film via interviews with cast and crew and footage captured on the set during production. There are some great anecdotes to be heard in this 1995 production.

Ministry Of Propaganda

    Here, you'll find a collection of trailers, TV spots and radio advertisements.

Image Database (Stills Galleries)

    There is a large range of stills to view here, and each gallery has an optional page of explanatory text that can be accessed during the first still (usually about four seconds).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This Ultimate Edition of Thunderball is currently only available as part of the Ultimate James Bond DVD Collection box set which contains all 20 films remastered with additional extra features. This is the ideal purchase for fans, however if you're only interested in this film on its own, you will have to settle for one of the older editions with inferior picture and audio quality.

    Incidentally, the Region 2 (PAL) UEs appear to be identical to ours and are available separately.

Summary

    Thunderball is a classic Bond tale, packed to the brim with all of the elements that make the franchise so dearly loved by fans across the globe.

    The video transfer is fantastic.

    The audio transfer is great.

    The extras are extensive and relevant to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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