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January 29, 2009
Live and Let Die Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
197312/11/2008FoxGuy Hamilton
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1PGRoger Moore

THE MOVIE
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Perpare for some Voodoo magic.

So what do you do when you have a massive franchise, but the main star of the previous movies, Sean Connery, doesn't want to return? Well you find someone else of course and after an exhaustive search Roger Moore was chosen to be the next James Bond (of course George Lazenby played the super spy once in 1969 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but wasn't received too well). Roger Moore became successful though as the producers took the character in a slightly different direction with a slightly more comedic tone which, fortunately, never becomes tiresome.

In Roger Moore's first outing as 007, he investigates the murders of three fellow agents, he soon finds himself a target, evading vicious assassins as he closes in on the powerful Kananga (Yaphet Kotto). Known on the streets as "Mr. Big," Kananga is coordinating a globally threatening scheme using tons of self-produced heroin. As Bond tries to unravel the mastermind's plan, he meets Solitaire (Jane Seymour), the beautiful Tarot card reader whose magical gifts are crucial to the crime lord. Bond, of course, works his own magic on her, and the stage is set for a series of pulse-pounding action sequences involving voodoo, hungry crocodiles and turbo-charged speedboats!

As well as being the first James Bond movie for Roger Moore Live and Let Die was a risky venture due to the 'blacksploitation' nature of the film. The movie was released at a time when movies such as Shaft, Black Mama, White Mama, Cleopatra Jones, and Foxy Brown (released after Live and Let Die). As a result almost the entire cast of this movie are African American except Roger Moore and Jayne Seymour. Not only are there plenty of afro haircuts, pimped out cars, gangsters and slang words thrown about, but even the arch villain as a drug baron is a regular theme of the era. Looking back on the movie it could be perceived as being slightly racist in many respects with too many stereotypes including a massive problem of drugs within the black community.

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Roger Moore in his first Bond outing.
Certainly one of the biggest attractions of this movie today is the brilliant performance of Yaphet Kotto as Kananga/Mr. Big. Following this movie he appeared in several other movies including Alien, The Running Man and Midnight Run. Jane Seymour plays the very alluring Solitaire in one of her earlier performance and her presence on screen really is quite commanding.

Of course the big question though is how good is Roger Moore as James Bond? As a first outing he does a fine job in Live and Let Die. Some of the humour falls a little flat, however it never becomes annoying. He is certainly suave enough to play the English super-spy and this first outing turned out quite well - certainly well enough that he was invited back six more times making him the longest-running James Bond actor of all time.

While this is not the best movie in the Bond franchise this movie remains quite entertaining due to its different style (that being Blaxploitation) and some great set pieces. Roger Moore is great in his first outing as the super spy and the movie has some great action sequences to keep you on the edge of your seat.

VIDEO
Live and Let Die has been released on Blu-Ray using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at the films original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and at the standard 1080p resolution. The restoration on all the James Bond movies has been exceptional, and this could be the best effort yet with barely a single mark or spec of dirt present. Colours are rich and the detail quite superb even in the darker scenes and shadows and the video bitrate remains rather high, often around 30Mbps according to the PS3's real-time monitoring.

AUDIO
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Bond gets up close and personal.

Also impressive is the audio which is provided as a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Having been remixed from the original mono soundtrack we didn't expect miracles, but the result is quite good. Dialogue is clear and music is quite rousing including Paul and Linda McCartney's title song, Live and Let Die. At times the music seemed a little loud, and the effects a little quiet, but overall this is probably as good as this movie has ever sounded.

Again we have to note our disappointment that the original English Mono soundtrack isn't included. Why would I want this when there is a wonderful DTS-HD Master Audio track included you ask? Well for the sake of history and historical accuracy. I would love to hear how this disc sounded in its original theatrical release. Surely a 1 channel soundtrack couldn’t have taken up too much space on this 50GB Dual layer disc - by our count perhaps 200MB or so.

Other languages on this disc include German and French DTS tracks encoded at 768kbps, and Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 448kbps. Naturally as you go down in bitrate the quality seems to decrease slightly, however this isn't too noticeable on this disc due to the original source material.

Subtitles are provided in over 20 different languages on this disc - for the main feature as well as the commentary. Sampling the English track demonstrated accuracy to dialogue on screen.

EXTRAS
Continuing the tradition of a solid number of extras on the James Bond Blu-Ray releases this disc, like the others before it, contains all the extras from the Ultimate Edition DVD's, but with some of the key featurettes being upgraded to HD video.

Audio Commentary by Actor Roger Moore: Roger Moore flies solo on this commentary which offers some insight into playing the role for the very first time and what it was like filming the movie. He does though tend to head off track and talk about his other interests.

Audio Commentary by Director Guy Hamilton: Somewhat misleading this commentary actually hosted by John Cork, and provides comments and interviews from numerous cast (including director Guy Hamilton) and crew. This was probably the most interesting track due to the range of insights provided.

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That's surely not good.
Audio Commentary by Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz: The screenwriter talks about adapting the novel for the film, and a new style of James Bond. To be honest we found this a little dull.

Bond 1973: The Lost Documentary (21:41): This documentary was created in, well, 1973 and is typical of the promotional type documentaries of the time. Some decent interviews and behind the scenes footage makes this worth the time, but it's not what you would call brilliant.

Roger Moore as James Bond Circa 1964 (7:44): A look at Roger Moore playing James Bond in a comedic TV series from the early 1960's called "Mainly Millicent". Presented in Black and White this is quite a wonderful addition to this disc. It's actually pretty funny too.

Live and Let Die Conceptual Art (1:39): A brief look at the early conceptual poster art for the movie.

Mission Control (HD): This interesting featurette allows you to pick a topic such as the women, locations or villains, and then a key word or scene and jump directly to that part of the movie to have a look.

Mission Dossier: Inside Live and Let Die (29:47/HD): Presented in High Definition this is the best documentary on the disc and looks at the creation of a new James Bond with a new actor in the lead role.

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The Jazz funeral in Live and Let Die.
On Set With Roger Moore: The Funeral Parade (1:42): Very brief footage with Roger Moore overlooking the Funeral Parade being filmed.

On Set With Roger Moore: Hang Gliding Lessons (3:56): A look at Hang Gliding for use in the film.

Ministry of Propaganda (8:50/HD): Two theatrical promotions, three TV advertisements and also two radio commercials.

Image Database: The name says it all really with dozens of still images from the production of the movie split up into nine categories. No audio or text to detail what you're seeing disappoints.

OVERALL
Live and Let Die isn't one of the best bond movies, but it's not one of the worst either. As Roger Moore's first effort as the super spy he does an admirable job, while the storyline is fairly interesting. Technically the movie has probably never looked better while Fox have, yet again, provided a decent suite of extras.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
8.5/10
THE AUDIO
7/10
THE EXTRAS
6/10
OVERALL
7/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.