Everyone has a franchise or "geekdom," if you will, that they hold nearest and dearest to their heart. I'm talking about the sort of franchise that draws endearing shrieks of pure, unadulterated joy at the sheer sight of anything having to do with it. For me, James Bond is such a franchise, a fact that my nearest co-workers can attest to based on the involuntary (and embarrassingly audible) squeal that escaped my lips upon receipt of 'The Ultimate James Bond Collection.'
Having seen all of the James Bond films numerous times (don't watch them with me, I WILL quote every single line while the film is playing), I was overjoyed at the prospect of revisiting my favorite franchise in glorious HD via The Ultimate James Bond Collection. While watching, it occurred to me that this is one of the few franchises that has truly stood the test of time. Despite slips into campiness that nearly killed the franchise (looking at you Roger Moore era...), the James Bond films are an enduring hallmark of modern cinema and with the 24th film Spectre on the horizon, here are three reasons the franchise is better than it has ever been:
1. Craig, Daniel Craig
It's no secret that the Bond franchise has experienced a glamorous resurgence in recent years, and that is thanks, in no small part, to the resounding success of Daniel Craig's portrayal of the famous British super-spy. Coming off of a string of less than stellar films featuring Pierce Brosnan, Barbara Broccoli and Co. took things back to basics with Casino Royale, a brooding, taut, and emotionally layered installment that was met with nigh unanimous praise from audiences and critics alike. Quantum of Solace and Skyfall were similarly solid additions to the Bond canon, and 'The Story So Far' special feature that comes packed into this particular Ultimate Edition allows you to relive the best moments from Craig's tenure thus far.
2. The Return of Spectre
Despite encountering a plethora of formidable villains over the years, there has only ever been one true foe for our favorite MI6 agent: I'm talking, of course, about the sinister Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of the notorious, criminal organization SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion). Owing to rights issues, the organization and its leader haven't been seen for some time, but Blofeld and Co. will be making a (hopefully) spectacular comeback in the upcoming Spectre. The Ultimate James Bond Collection features a wonderfully informative commentary by screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, providing some intriguing insight into the organization just in time for its theatrical return this November.
3. The History of Bond at Your (Gold) Fingertips
23 films in and the James Bond franchise continues to delight audiences around the world. A large part of the appeal stems from the strong history established by the films, and there is a wealth of lore to sift through. The Ultimate James Bond Collection contains an embarrassment of riches when it comes to exploring every facet of the Bond lineage. Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 is a fascinating documentary detailing the storied and complex history of the films, and is a must-watch for any fan. Beyond that, the collection contains numerous featurettes that take the audience through everything from costume design throughout the years, to discussions of the performances of each actor to inhabit the role. All in all, I can't think of another franchise that is more firmly rooted in the history of cinema than James Bond, and there is no better way to relive that history than with this collection.