Sep 1, 2007

Spy DVD News Roundup

New James Bond Discs On The Way

Readers who frequent the various big James Bond websites will probably already be aware of some exciting new releases coming this fall from MGM and Fox, but they're certainly worth mentioning here as well... and perhaps I can even add a few small details.

Amazon recently added listings for two new items, "The James Bond Monster Box" and a "Casino Royale 40th Anniversary Edition," both due out (according to the site) on November 6. Fan site MI6.co.uk has reported that the new Casino Royale (that's the '67 version, of course)has been delayed until early 2008, but the truth is there has still been no official press release on either of these products and the studio won't yet confirm a release date, so for now all we have to go by is what Amazon says. And Amazon has been wrong before!

A complete Region 1 set of all the Bond movies has been in the offing for a while from Fox, but has gone through several iterations. A prototype was created this past summer for an attache case containing the two-disc versions of all twenty movies that were released from MGM in the four individual sets last fall in the main portion, and Sony's two-disc release of the 2006 Casino Royale on the flip side. This packaging would have been similar to Australia's well-received attache case collection. But when the Amazon listing went up, a different design was originally pictured, which was basically just a big box. (The box art said something like "The Complete Collection" and nothing about "Monster Box," which seems to be a term only being used by Amazon.) That art has since been removed from the retail site, however, so maybe things are in flux once again. Personally, I hope Fox (who release MGM's DVDs) will re-evaluate the attache case design, as that sounds pretty cool! What is known for sure about the set is that it will contain 42 discs, so it would seem that it's still set to include the two-disc special editions of the movies, which with the exception of Casino Royale, are currently available only in four collections. The individual editions contain just one disc and omit most of the special features.

While the 40th Anniversary Edition of the 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale, the famously troubled production starring David Niven, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen (among many, many others), also has yet to be confirmed, there is a little more information available for it. The disc will again be produced by well-known Bond expert and former chairman of the Ian Fleming Foundation, John Cork, whose Cloverland Productions also produced the last, non-special edition of the film for MGM, as well as all of the excellent Special Editions of the legit Bond movies. (Cork also co-authored a number of officially licensed books on 007, the latest of which, The James Bond Encyclopedia, is due out next month.) According to CommanderBond.net, Cork will team up with fellow Bond expert and author of the first encyclopedia on the subject, Steven Jay Rubin, for a commentary track. The site lists the following special features:

“Bond James Bond” featurette
“A 3 Ring Circus” featurette
“More Directors, More Stars” featurette
“The Big Climax” featurette
“It’s a Wrap!” featurette

Hopefully all of these featurettes will come together to form as definitive a documentary on the making of this film as all of Cork's other impressive James Bond making-of docus! I'd argue that Casino Royale actually has the most fascinating production history of any Bond film, and a well-done documentary on the subject could easily be more entertaining than the film itself, especially if the producers were able to get interviews with any of the surviving participants. Speaking of interviews, the one with co-director (among at least five) Val Guest that was included on the last DVD of Casino Royale is not listed among the extras for the new one, but it may well have been re-purposed and used in the featurettes. Also not yet announced is the best special feature on that last release, the black and white 1954 TV version of Casino Royale, starring Barry Nelson. I really hope this is included, although I suppose it's possible that copyright issues could preclude it. The other possibility, of course, is that Fox/MGM is planning a separate release down the road, giving this version its own special edition! Wouldn't that be great? If they are, I hope they managed to record a commentary with Nelson prior to his passing last spring. Genre specialists Spy Guise planned to put out a special edition DVD of the '54 version several years ago, but were forestalled in their efforts by EON and MGM.

Anyway, Amazon lists the retail price for Casino Royale: The 40th Anniversary Edition at $19.99. Thankfully, the packaging seems more in keeping with Fox's last wave of "Classic Spy Films" rather than the ugly artwork found on the current editions of the Bond DVDs. CBN points out that "James Bond" is mentioned nowhere on the cover, no doubt to keep the Broccolis pleased! Furthermore, Fox impressively managed to dig up a version of Robert McGinnis' iconic "tattooed girl" artwork for the movie that I've never seen before anywhere! Usually, she has the words "Casino Royale" tattooed onto her back, obscuring the many characters and scenes from the movie depicted on this version! None of the international variations on the poster artwork included in Tony Nourmand's fairly comprehensive book James Bond Movie Posters show these details, and the original painting included in McGinnis' own Tapestry contains the words. I suppose Fox could have commissioned new artwork, but since the trend in new DVD artwork is toward bad Photoshopping and not painting, that seems highly unlikely. If anyone knows the origins of this cover artwork, please let me know!

New Edition Of Hot Fuzz

No sooner did I complain about the lack of extras on the single disc American release compared to the two-disc British release of Hot Fuzz (co-starring Timothy Dalton) than Universal trumps even the Brits and announces a three-disc special edition coming to America this fall! DVDActive has a list of all the impressive features, which seems to cover everything on the UK edition (including the much-missed commentary track with Dalton!), everything on the existent American version, and more, including an extended version of "Fuzzball Rally," the featurette documenting the filmmakers' US press tour! The new edition is due out November 27, and retails for $34.99. I can see why some consumers who already purchased the single disc edition might be upset, but I've come to accept double-dipping as a necessity of the market, and I'm just glad we're getting the best edition possible without having to import from Region 2. So save your money, and don't get one of those Wal-Mart exclusives that are now going for $50 or more on Ebay!

Young Indy Press Release

LucasFilm has issued a press release with further details on the upcoming first volume of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (or The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, as they're now calling it). It won't actually contain any of the espionage episodes I mentioned before, and it won't contain the Daniel Craig episode that Zencat pointed out in a comment on that post, but it will contain some great episodes! Going chronologically, this set focuses primarily on Indy as a young boy, as played by Corey Carrier. I was never as into those episodes when the series initially aired, but there are quite a few of them I haven't seen, so I'm looking forward to them. The Carrier episodes included in this set are:

"My First Adventure," set and shot in Egypt
"Passion For Life," in Kenya and Paris
"The Perils of Cupid," in Vienna and Florence
"Travels With Father," in Russia and Greece
"Journey of Radiance," in China

Bear in mind that each "episode" here is actually two hour-long episodes from the original run on ABC, combined into one feature-length adventure. So we also get four episodes starring Sean Patrick Flannery as a teenaged Indy (some of my very favorites, in fact), combined into two features:

"Spring Break Adventure," in Princeton and Mexico
"Love's Sweet Song," in Ireland and London

Each adventure gets at least one disc to itself, and some get two. The whole set is 12 discs. Each adventure has a slew of documentaries on the historical situations or locations featured therein, with topics as varied as "Easter Rising—The Poets’ Rebellion," "The Mystery of Edward Stratemeyer [creator of Nancy Drew]," "Powder Keg—Europe 1900 to 1914," "Theodore Roosevelt and The American Century," "Braque + Picasso: A Collaboration Cubed," "Howard Carter and the Tomb of Tutankhamun," "Colonel Lawrence’s War: T.E. Lawrence and Arabia" and "The Passions of William Butler Yeats," among many others. And each of those is actually topical and relevant to the series! I have very high expectations for these documentaries, as they've been a passion project for George Lucas and he's had his people working on them for years, since before there was a format capable of containing them all! There's also a twelfth disco of additional bonus features.

Unfortunately, with all this space devoted to the history involved, there are no featurettes on the making of the series itself. Since the press release touts the fact that the series shot in thirty-five countries over four years, and "was the first television series to use digital production, pioneering processes that would pave the way for Lucas' own Star Wars prequels," I know there's a fascinating behind-the-scenes story to be told! In fact, I've read about it in other places, and producer Rick McCallum even claims, "Young Indiana Jones was one of the most ambitious and complex projects that had ever been attempted for television." So some making-of featurettes would be welcome companions to the historical documentaries. Hopefully, that will be covered in Volume 2 or 3.

1 comment:

David Foster said...

I hate to be a whinger, but I am getting sick of the double dipping with the Bond movies.

I bought the Australian Attache case set. Originally they said that the movies would not be released indiviually in Australia. They were, in both double and single disc sets. And after all these months you can now pick up the double disks for around $10 each. So to buy the complete set costs half of what the attache case cost. Further to this, 'the case' promised an empty spot to put the 'Casino Royale' disk once it was released. No spot was in the case. And they stuffed up the mastering of the Die Another Day disk. And that's not just an Australian problem, Raymond Benson's review of the 'Ultimate Editions' also pointed out this flaw. I notice on the indivual Aus. disks that they corrected the packaging (so as to not list the features) rather than correct the disk. I had got rid of my old DAD, and had to get hold of the special features again. Grrrr (much gnashing of teeth!)

And now in Aus. they are talking about the monster box too. This link shows what they are offering:

http://www.ezydvd.com.au/item.zml/795103

From the art it appears to be the old single disks, but that could be poor conceptal art. I am frustrated to hear that they are also releasing a 3 disk set of Casino Royale later this year? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think this is another Sony set. Will we still have the MGM set in about a years time?...and not that I am ready for Blu Ray or HDDVD yet. But, I would suggest that my Bond collection will be obsolete / redundant in about three years.

Cheers
D.