Plot: What’s it about?
It seems as though large uncut diamond shipments have been lost of late and due to the frequency, the British government has decided to send in an agent to investigate. If the diamonds were simply stolen, then they would show up again on the resale market, but once these beauties go, they’re never seen again. So an agent is sent in to get to the bottom of this mystery and who better to tackle this mission, than Agent 007 himself, James Bond (Sean Connery)? This seems like an odd mission to Bond, as he thinks common smugglers are involved and as such, someone else should have been given this one. But he soon discovers this case is much deeper than he thought, taking him all the way to America, where he will visit scenic Las Vegas. Bond has information that leads him to believe a casino owner is behind this scam and he plans to shut him down, one way or another. But when he learns the owner is his arch nemesis Blofeld (Charles Gray), all his mind can think about is revenge. Can Bond put his anger to the side and eliminate Blofeld’s operation, or will this most personal mission turn out to be his last?
In Sean Connery’s return as James Bond, the producers went all out and created a visually potent and action packed vehicle. But then again, who would expect less, when so much time and money was spent to lure Connery back to this role? Is this my favorite of the Bond flicks? Not even close, but it offers a wild ride, quick pace, and of course, it’s good to see Mr. Connery with the reins again. This installment in the series leaves storyline and character development out from the start, focusing instead on action and excitement. This is an action driven series after all, so I suppose that isn’t such a bad idea in the end. I do wish a little more time went into the subtle points here and there, but overall, you could do a lot worse for mindless entertainment. The set pieces rock the house, especially the Las Vegas strip sequence and for action lovers, this is probably one of the best Bond adventures. Not as strange as Moonraker, explosive as Goldeneye, or dynamic as Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever is still a competent entry into the series. This new Ultimate Edition is simply head and shoulders above the previous version, so don’t hesitate to upgrade.
After George Lazenby’s departure from the series, no expense was spared to locate a replacement, but in the end, the producers came full circle and hired the original James Bond. It wasn’t cheap or easy by any means, but Sean Connery reprised the role that made his famous and it doesn’t seem as though he misses a step. I myself prefer Pierce Brosnan in the role, but most people I know will take Connery over the others in a heart beat. I am a Connery fans also, so I can understand why and this film certainly doesn’t hurt his claim to the being the best James Bond. He lacks the “make love to her, then kill her” edge he has in previous films from the series, but Connery still displays the attitude and demeanor needed to play the part. Other Connery classic performances can be found in Goldfinger, Entrapment, Thunderball, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, Marnie, and The Rock. The cast also includes Lois Maxwell (Live And Let Die, A View To A Kill), Charles Gray (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Longitude), Jimmy Dean (I’ll Tell The World), Bruce Glover (The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Chinatown), Lana Wood (Satan’s Mistress, The Searchers), and Jill St. John (The Player, The Concrete Jungle).
Video: How does it look?
Diamonds are Forever is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The previous transfer was decent, but inconsistent, so an improvement was needed. The improvement comes through a frame by frame restoration, one which yields incredible results. The print looks gorgeous, pristine even and I doubt fans ever imagined the film could look this good. The image is sharp and refined, as if it were just produced and the clarity and detail depth is very impressive. I found colors to be natural and free from errors, while contrast was smooth and never wavered, just fantastic work here. MGM has gone above and beyond with the restoration work on the Bond films, these movies just shine in these new presentations.
Audio: How does it sound?
Bond should sound awesome. Now Bond does sound awesome. All new DTS soundtracks have been created and without question, the movies sound awesome. The action comes to life as it should, with depth and presence. This movie wasn’t made with sound design up to modern standards, but the audio comes through as active and natural. So the surround use is never forced or hollow, this is just an overhaul that works, a very impressive treatment. You can also choose a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, but to be honest, the DTS is superior enough to be chosen in every instance. This release also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As far as new supplements, a new five minute interview with Connery kicks us off, followed by some test footage, material deleted from the oil rig attack sequence, and some alternate angle footage for half a dozen scenes. Not a lot of substance here, but thankfully, all the of the extras from the previous disc return, so there is a lot of great stuff here. You’ll find two theatrical trailers (one a Christmas teaser), five television promotional spots, and five radio advertisements. I love these extras and I am glad MGM has included them here, as they shed some light on how the film was marketed around the time of release. Also on this disc is a selection of four deleted scenes, including one with Sammy Davis, Jr. None of these are that ground shaking by any means, but it is still nice to have them on this disc. Next is a pair of featurettes, Inside Diamonds Are Forever and Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond, both of which make for an interesting watch. Inside Diamonds Are Forever runs about thirty minutes and contains interviews, behind the scenes footage, and even some glimpses into how a couple sequences came to be. This is as in depth as I would like, but it still has a lot of good information tucked inside. Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond is a forty-five minute look at the career of producer Albert Broccoli, which makes for a very interesting span of time. This looks as his personal and profession lives, including a bulk of non Bond related topics. The final supplement is an audio commentary with Guy Hamilton and various other cast and crew members. This is not a screen specific commentary, but still has a ton of information and if you’ve heard other Bond commentaries, then you’ll know what to expect.