After a year-long moratorium, MGM is now releasing a number of James Bond titles on DVD. But they don’t see a simple release to support the theatrical release of the next James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough", as each of those six discs has been given the ultra-royal special edition treatment. The result is an array of spectacular James Bond action adventures that will glue you in front of your TV screen. "For Your Eyes Only" was the twelfth James Bond film and stars Roger Moore as the charming, but lethal secret agent 007.
"For Your Eyes Only" is certainly the most serious of all James Bond films and as such stands out quite a bit. It is not a film about world domination like most other adventures we get to witness but actually a story of vengeance. Featuring substantially less fantasy and science-fiction elements than many other films of the series, "For Your Eyes Only" can easily be mistaken as the most unspectacular of these films. However, it clearly stands on its own merits, adding a realistic facet to the franchise by focussing a little more on characters than gadgets. Especially after the overly spacey "Moonraker" this was a welcome change of pace.
A British spy-ship is colliding with a mine and sinks off the coast of Albania during the Cold War. Equipped with some of the latest in espionage equipment the British government is afraid the shipwreck will be detected and the secrets could fall into Russian hands. On board the vessel was ATAC, a communication device that coordinates Western submarines. In the wrong hands, it could be used to direct these submarines to attack Western countries. The Secret Service orders its best agent, James Bond (Roger Moore), to find the whereabouts of the wreck and to recover ATAC from the sunken ship.
As soon as 007 starts his work on the case, one of his contacts is killed, a marine explorer working to uncover ancient Greek ruins. Bond suspects that he may have accidentally found out there whereabouts of the missing ship and was killed to keep it a secret. However his daughter Melina (Carole Bouquet) is determined to take revenge for her father’s death at any cost. Soon Bond’s and her paths cross and they both are pulled into a web of intrigue that gets deadlier every minute. After following in Sean Connery’s footsteps, Roger Moore had indeed managed to make the character of James Bond his own, with his very own suave and of course, his British ’style’. As in the previous film he took on the part of 007, Moore manages to present us with a very smooth James Bond that is seemingly always on top of things.
Carole Bouquet makes a great Bond-girl. Relying mostly on her crossbow instead of overly physical action, she too seems to be very deliberate at all times and builds a good chemistry with Roger Moore.
"For Your Eyes Only" takes the viewer all around Europe and captures some of the nicest locations this continent has to offer. From London to Greece, from Korfu to the Alps in Austria, everything is beautifully photographed and well integrated into the story. It is one of the key elements of the Bond movies and it is nice to see it so well and sensibly implemented in this film. After all this waiting for this DVD, let’s see how it turned out. Featuring a very clean anamorphic widescreen transfer in the film’s original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio, MGM Home Entertainment has clearly exceeded my expectations. The transfer is mostly free of film artifacts, scratches or speckles. The anamorphic encoding brings an incredible level of detail to the screen, reproducing practically everything that was in the original print. Although the presentation contains the slightest noise visible in some of the backgrounds, upon close examination it becomes evident that it is in fact the faithfully reproduced film grain from the print without any of the exaggeration that often comes with digital encoding of video material. Overall it is utterly impressive how film-like the entire presentation of the film looks on this DVD. Color reproduction is powerful without over-saturating some of the delicate hues. The image boasts colors stronger than I ever remembered from the film and renders fleshtones completely natural.
"For Your Eyes Only" contains a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital surround soundtrack that is lively and very active at times. Especially the action scenes benefit quite a bit from the spatial integration of the effects and the wide soundfield generated by this mix. The track has a great bass extension that puts a lot of punch behind those explosive action moments. This is a Bond movie presentation as you always wanted to experience it. Colorful, flashy and loud - and this DVD does complete justice to these expectations.
MGM has done an incredible job on the DVD menus throughout these James Bond special editions, nicely capturing the flair of each one of these films. "For Your Eyes Only" features some gorgeous underwater sequences with bubbles rising all over the screen, creating a dreamy and unmistakable atmosphere while you make your selections. The menus are even talking to you while you make your selection - limited somewhat, but still it is a very nice touch. These are the best looking and best integrated DVD menus ever and you need to see this to believe it.
The disc contains a large number of special features, the most prominent ones certainly being two separate commentary tracks. Interestingly these commentary tracks are not traditionally commentary tracks where filmmakers comment on the action that is going on on-screen, but moderated interview segments that run on top of the movie. While they are very informative I have to admit that at the same time they felt somewhat awkward and ‘out of tune’ with the film. The stoic opening disclaimer that the following content reflects personal recollections that are not meant to be complete, also feel awkwardly out of place. Still, there is a lot of information to be obtained from these tracks.
The disc also comes with an extensive "Behind-the-scenes" documentary that is narrated by the Avengers’ Mr. Steed, Patrick MacNee. This brand new documentary is very entertaining and reveals many of the thoughts and intentions, as well as practical approaches to the film. It also gives viewers a better understanding why the film is as restrained as it is compared to many other Bond movies, as well as a series of notes and annotations on the actors and crew members involved. Or did you know about Roger Moore’s fear of heights, Carole Bouquet’s fear to dive and some of the wicked secrets surrounding some of the film’s models? Make sure to give it a look.
You will also find four different trailers and two radio spots on this disc, as well as an extensive photo gallery that is nicely separated into selectable chapters. To round up this great package, the disc also contains two animated storyboard sequences, comparing the storyboards to the final filmed versions of the scenes, and the "For Your Eyes Only" music video by Sheena Easton.
"For Your Eyes Only" is one of the easily overlooked James Bond films despite the fact that it is a very good film and opted to ground James Bond a little more before the franchise turned into a parody of itself. MGM Home Entertainment has done an amazing job with this special edition to satisfy every James Bond fan’s dreams and as a result deserves our "Gold Seal Of Excellence" for its achievement. This DVD is one of those cases where you feel you are experiencing a completely different film than what you had seen so many times before. It is like someone has lifted a veil from the movie, and this disc should definitely go into any DVD collection.