From his introduction in Casino Royale through to his most recent mission in Spectre, Daniel Craig as Bond has experienced explosive action and adventures while his character crisscrossed the globe in a non-stop quest for justice. Check out Ralph Potts’ Ultra HD Blu-ray review of 007: The Daniel Craig Collection from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92
Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox – 2006, 2008, 2012, 2015
MPAA Rating: Unrated, PG-13
Feature running time: 145, 106, 143, 148 minutes
Genre: Action/Drama

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio (Spectre), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDG, Spanish, French
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric. Giancarlo Giannini, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomi Harris, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista
Directed by: Martin Campbell, Marc Foster, Sam Mendes
Music by: David Arnold, Thomas Newman
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis, John Logan, Jez Butterworth
Region Code: A


Release Date: October 22, 2019
"Always Bet on Bond…"
Synopsis:

“From his introduction in Casino Royale through to his most recent mission in Spectre, Daniel Craig as Bond has experienced explosive action and adventures while his character crisscrossed the globe in a non-stop quest for justice.” – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Casino Royale: introduces JAMES BOND before he holds his license to kill. Bond is no less dangerous, and with two professional assassinations in quick succession, he is elevated to "00" status. "M" (Judi Dench), head of the British Secret Service, sends the newly-promoted 007 on his first mission that takes him to Madagascar, the Bahamas and eventually leads him to Montenegro to face Le Chiffre, a ruthless financier under threat from his terrorist clientele, who is attempting to restore his funds in a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale. "M" places Bond under the watchful eye of the Treasury official Vesper Lynd. At first skeptical of what value Vesper can provide, Bond's interest in her deepens as they brave danger together. Le Chiffre's cunning and cruelty come to bear on them both in a way Bond could never imagine, and he learns his most important lesson: Trust no one.

Quantum of Solace: Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in this thrilling, action-packed adventure which starts shortly after Casino Royale ends. Betrayed by the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. On a nonstop quest for justice that crisscrosses the globe, Bond meets the beautiful but feisty Camille (Olga Kurylenko),who leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a ruthless businessman and major force within the mysterious “Quantum” organization. When Bond uncovers a conspiracy to take control of one of the world’s most important natural resources, he must navigate a minefield of treachery, deception and murder to neutralize “Quantum” before it’s too late!

Skyfall: Bond's loyalty to M (Judi Dench) is tested as her past returns to haunt her. 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. When Bond's latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows - aided only by field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) - following a trail to the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.

Spectre: A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organization known as Spectre.

Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of Spectre. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot. As Bond ventures towards the heart of Spectre, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.


My Take:


Casino Royale:

The James Bond franchise is the longest running film series to my knowledge. I am amazed at how each installment never seems to lose its fresh appeal. Casino Royale is special for two reasons. The first is that it is technically the first James Bond story and second because it introduces us to the newest and sixth actor to play Bond, Daniel Craig. I have to admit that when I heard that he was the new Bond I was pretty skeptical. I had seen him in several films, including Layer Cake and Tomb Raider, and wasn’t sure he had the chops to pull Bond off. After seeing Casino Royale my skepticism was assuaged. The character has a much different feel that is highlighted by more of a reckless arrogance and darker persona than we have seen from any previous Bond. Personally, I find it invigorating.

Director Martin Campbell returns (he directed Pierce Brosnan’s Bond debut in Goldeneye) with action that is quick paced, in your face, and physically more challenging than any other Bond film to date. The film’s opening (after the black and white segment) represents the most intricately staged foot chase sequence I have ever seen. Each time I see it I am amazed at the incredible dexterity displayed by Sebastien Foucan, as Mollaka the bomb maker, the man Bond is pursuing on foot. The story is well paced, and features a satisfyingly sophisticated plot that seems apropos to the “new” Bond. Like many of the Bond films I find replay value on Casino Royale to be high and enjoy re-visiting it from time to time. Film Rating = 4.5 Stars


Quantum of Solace:

Let me start off by saying that I liked Quantum of solace. It is a visually engaging film that sets a blistering pace that seems to continue right through to the credits. I think that may be part of its problem though. While I liked it, I didn’t find it to be stimulating from a conceptual standpoint. The pacing is simply too fast and character development too minimal. From what I could tell the premise is rather simple, payback. The Quantum organization and Dominic Greene really take a backseat to both Bond and Camille’s quest for revenge. I mean that’s fine but we really had no time to get to have any feelings one way or the other for the principle bad guys.

Mr. White, who was billed at the end of Casino Royale as the guy James held responsible for the whole debacle with Vesper spent a total of 2 minutes in the film. General Medrano, the man pursued by Camille, gets one scene that offers a glimpse of what he is capable of but it’s late in the film and by then who cared? Mathis (Giannini) reprises his role from CR and assists James in procuring access to Greene. Mathis accompanies James (didn’t seem necessary) and things don’t turn out too well for him as a result.

Then there’s the introduction of Fields, apparently an MI6 (clerical) operative who is sent by M to ensure that James returns to London as ordered. To that point everyone who tried to get James to follow orders, including M, has failed. How was this tall redhead expected to do what no one else could? From the moment she entered the picture it was obvious why she was present and what the outcome would be. Camille is quickly introduced with little to no background before James is putting it on the line for her (with no explanation). It all just seemed rushed with the main focus of the story being blurry. I went back and re-watched several scenes to try and connect the dots. I wouldn’t say that it is overly complex because it’s not. I think it just felt disjointed due to the cryptic nature of Quantum’s explanation and the narrowly drawn characters that seem to exit almost as fast as they enter.

Having said all of that there were some positives about this film. I like how it picked up where CR left off and more or less completed what it started. The relationship between Camille and James was unlike any previous Bond girl which was refreshing. Bond’s persona didn’t abruptly change and I appreciated that there seemed to be some closure for him. Hopefully we will see another side of the character which will still contain the same propensity for mayhem that this one has.

The relationship between James and M took a positive step in the right direction. I complained about the narrow storyline but I have to admit that I absolutely loved the intensity of the action. The opening contains back to back chase sequences that are ruthless and captivating. I think over the course of the film the chase scenes run the gamut. They occur on foot, by sea, by car, and by air. There is plenty of hand to hand combat and gunplay. I enjoyed the brief yet truly visceral Bourne Series style encounter that takes place in a cramped hotel room.

So, is Quantum of Solace a worthy sequel to Casino Royale? I would say that it is worthy but, it is not a better overall film. It is far from slow moving and it contains some truly exciting action-based sequences that are sure to keep interest high for thrill junkies (like me!). Film Rating = 3 Stars


Skyfall:

When Skyfall was announced I truly wondered what lay in store and hoped that it would live up to the promise found in Casino Royale. After seeing it I was extremely pleased to see a return to the path and continuance in the thematic vein of reshaping Bond.

The central theme here revolves around Bond and M’s relationship as they deal with an element from her past that has resurfaced. There are several new challenges for Bond who is carefully drawn as a simple yet complex character with his typical lone wolf exterior that leaves him unpredictable yet predictable. The most direct obstacle comes in the form of a worthy adversary in Silva played with pitch perfect maniacal disdain by the always reliable Javier Bardem. The newest Bond Girls are exotically ravishing with a twist of course. There are a variety of familiar references in the 007 lore as well as several “interesting” introductions. Skyfall is typically stylish both in theme and execution featuring gorgeous locations, exciting action and superlative production elements.

The requisite opening chase sequence is loaded with hair raising stunts and the title sequence that follows, featuring Adele’s theme song, is a montage of beautifully crafted images enhanced by superb production design/direction. The action set pieces are exactly what you would expect while the rewarding screenplay ties everything together as it leads toward an inevitable and gratifying finale that reminds us why we keep coming back for more. Daniel Craig has truly made this character his own. Of the three Bond films he has made I think Casino Royale remains my favorite. Skyfall is probably more of a complete film in terms of tying all of the elements together. I am thrilled that Bond is back and I look forward to the next installment. Film Rating = 4.5 Stars


Spectre:

As much as I wanted to I didn't make it out to the theater to see Spectre. I am most definitely a Bond fan and while I admittedly raised my eyebrows when Daniel Craig was announced as the new face of the iconic character, I have grown quite fond of him in the role. Spectre picks up with the continuing and dark elements associated with Bond's past, prior to becoming a Double O, and introduces a new foe whose connection to James resonates throughout his career, leading him to this very moment.

I enjoyed the film but didn’t find anything innately special about it. The villain, played by Christophe Waltz, just didn’t have enough screen time to be compellingly sinister enough and the Bond Girls, played by Lea Seydoux and Monica Bellucci (huh?), were far from enrapturing. There weren't enough gadgets, although based upon the storyline, that was understandable, but the cars didn't disappoint. What made Spectre enjoyable are the staples that Bond generally brings, plenty of action, fairly compelling storytelling, excellent production values and a well-played turn by star Daniel Craig.

Spectre falls in line behind Casino Royale along with Skyfall and then Quantum of Solace. It's an entertaining installment in the Bond Franchise, a film series that has been the gift that keeps on giving. Film Rating = 4 Stars

NOTE: I have previously reviewed each of the Daniel Craig Bond films and my comments above were taken from those reviews. The Unrated Extended Version of Casino Royale is an Ultra HD Blu-ray exclusive.

The eight-disc set includes the 4K discs and standard Blu-ray discs in two separate amaray cases housed in a 4K Ultra HD slipcover.


Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense violent sequences throughout, a scene of torture, sexual content, nudity, language and smoking.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 



UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 



Audio: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA



007: The Daniel Craig Collection comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, and DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio (Spectre only) sound.

From what I can gather Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were derived from 2K Digital Intermediates and, Skyfall and Spectre were derived from 4K Digital Intermediates for these Ultra HD Blu-ray renderings.

Looking at each of these films the benefits of the Ultra HD treatment are obvious. From a cinematic perspective, these films were shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind, and that comes through in each presentation. These easily best the 1080p versions, offering imagery that lifts the vail. I wouldn’t describe either Skyfall or Spectre as overtly colorful, however, there are elements, where the palate of autumn-based hues, sepia tones and variants of blue/red/green benefited from UHD's wider color gamut, appearing slightly warmer and pleasing to the eye.

The color rich imagery in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace gets a boost, delivering eye catching delineation that emboldens depth. Resolution gets a noticeable upgrade as well, especially in the latter two films, with a host or eye-catching moments that look terrific. Close-ups and mid-level shots offer improved refinement and deeper resolvable texture on surfaces and physical features when compared to the Blu-ray, while wide-angle vistas offer slightly less tangible boosts to definition.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. I also felt that the dark/low-level sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation, which were rendered with excellent dimension, especially when coupled with brighter visual elements. It should be noted that these presentations aren’t showcases for specular highlights and blink inducing elements. That isn’t to suggest that there aren’t instances where the image pops nicely. The large Opera sequence (Quantum), the night time shots of Shanghai, the assault on Skyfall and the car chase between Bond and Hinx immediately come to mind.

While I didn’t find that these Ultra HD renderings were of the lift the veil type in terms of the comparisons to their 1080p counterparts, there is no doubt that they invigorate each of these films, making for a marked improvement that easily worth upgrade consideration for fans.


Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

In comparing the DV and HDR10 renderings I ran the same scenes using my reference UHD player (both in DV and forced HDR10). I found that in general each looked excellent on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. I felt that the DV presentation offered better handling of the finest details in shadows and dark to light transitions and just the slightest hint of refinement in the rendering of primary colors. The latter wasn’t enough to warrant a rating difference but, is worthy of mention. As I said before, you can’t go wrong with either but, my preference for viewing would be the Dolby Vision versions.


DTS-HD Master Audio Sound:

Each of these multi-channel mixes sound terrific. My comments across the board would apply to them all.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks are reference quality, and are sure to please those who like to play their systems at higher sound pressure levels. Each is impeccably detailed, dynamic, and makes for a demonstrative surround sound experience. Multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that their purpose is definable. The mixes make effective and occasionally aggressive use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of each of these demanding soundtracks.

The front and rear sound fields are integrated with precision which enables a seamless transference during panning sequences. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and resolute clarity. These are aggressive mixes that utilizes the subwoofer to accentuate its already extended dynamic range. The quality of the bass is first rate as it is fills the room with clean, hard hitting, and deep resonating low frequency detail. Dialog has excellent presence with clear, defining vocal character and noteworthy room penetration. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute revisiting these terrific soundtracks.



For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Casino Royale (Unrated version) Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Commentary featuring the Crew
  • Disc 2: Quantum of Solace Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Skyfall Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Commentary by Director Sam Mendes
  • Commentary by Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and Production Designer Dennis Gassner
  • Disc 4: Spectre Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 5: Casino Royale Blu-ray
  • Disc 6: Quantum of Solace Blu-ray
  • Disc 7: Skyfall Blu-ray
  • Disc 8: Spectre Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Features
  • Digital Codes
Final Thoughts:

The James Bond franchise is the longest running film series to my knowledge. I am amazed at how each installment never seems to lose its fresh appeal. The character as played by Daniel Craig, has a much different feel that is highlighted by more of a reckless arrogance and darker persona than we have seen from any previous Bond, and it works. Daniel Craig is currently in production on his fifth installment as James Bond in the franchise’s highly-anticipated 25th feature film No Time to Die, which is set for U.S. theatrical release on April 10, 2020. In the meantime 007: The Daniel Craig Collection has come to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Each of the four films has been given the 4K Ultra HD treatment which invigorates them for fans that desire to own them looking a notch above their 1080p cousins. Casino Royale’s 4K version is the 1 minute longer Extended Unrated cut (a format exclusive). The eight-disc set includes the 4K discs and standard Blu-ray discs in two separate amaray cases housed in a 4K Ultra HD slipcover.

The question is whether or not 007: The Daniel Craig Collection is worth picking up, especially in light of the fact that it isn’t complete without the upcoming film coming out next year. It’s lack of immersive audio is disappointing, given the potential of their surround sound mixes but, I will say that I still enjoyed them as much as ever. So, if you’re asking my advice regarding purchase I would say that if I were thinking about spending my money on this release as a fan of these films, the answer would be, yes.
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems