DR. NO (SE)
Reviewed February 18th, 2001 by Brian White
Dr. No must have a special place in the heart of any real James Bond fan. It is the first of the series. Added to the very slick sixties vibe, is the ultra cool Connery, creating the role. You can see the film trying to draw on elements from the books, to assist the audience in accepting the screen version of the literary hero. Today’s audience should understand that Bond was a very popular character from the book series, and the world of the novels was interpreted for the screen with a certain amount of tongue in cheek. This was a bold move, and Flemming didn’t entirely approve, but it paid off.
Dr. No contains the most enduring cinematic scene ever featured in a Bond film; you know, the type of thing that you see in a montage at the beginning of the Oscars: Ursula Andress emerging from the ocean in that white bikini. Despite the limitations in audio and visual quality from this old film, it’s such a strong chapter in the series that it deserves attention.
Dr. No is not the origin of James Bond. While M provides some exposition through scolding Bond for behavior on a previous mission, most of the introductory elements are stylistic, which sets the tone for the series. The audience, and Bond, hit the ground running. He is disturbed from his fun to investigate a situation in Jamaica. Of course, 007 gets tied up in a big plot by Dr. No, an evil guy with robot arms. You pretty much know the drill from there on in.
MGM gives the film their typical special edition treatment. Dr. No, like certain other Bond discs, is quite a worthy addition to any library. The video transfer, in anamorphic, 2.35:1, is no match for the newer Bond films, but it is probably the best that could be hoped for, given the source. There are the grainy and scratchy blemishes that you’d expect from a nearly forty year old film, but over all it’s surprisingly clean. This reviewer compared the new edition to the laserdisc, and there isn’t much difference in detail. The colors, on the other hand, are much better on the DVD.
The audio mix is Dolby digital mono. In light of the 5.1 mix that was created for the inferior Thunderball, it is a pity that a jewel of the series (along with From Russia With Love and Goldfinger), is given a lackluster mono mix. Dialogue and music are better than previous home video releases of the film, but oh for what could have been.
The extras are what make these DVDs so fantastic, and Dr. No does not disappoint. We get the director, cast and crew commentary track, stitched together from interviews. We get a very interesting documentary about the genesis of the series, the casting of Connery, and everything else. This is probably the best documentary of the bunch. You get a funny little piece of film from American TV at the time of the film’s release. It describes Bond’s firearms, and questions whether the film can capture the spirit of the novels. You also get the promotional material and stills gallery. One part of the package that should be noted are the cool menus that might just take a cue from the Austin Powers films. There are some pretty sixties looking graphics going on.
Dr. No, while not the most extravagant, is certainly one of the coolest Bonds. The only downside are the European actors made up as Asians. However, you see Connery drinking martinis, playing baccarat, and just being Connery. This is James Bond.
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