Anthony's Film Review
The Ultimate James Bond: An Interactive Dossier
(CD-ROM Reference, 1996)
An informative and brilliantly designed computer CD-ROM guide to the world of James Bond...
There is so much information on the world of James Bond, inside and outside the stories in movies and novels, that many fans love to get their hands on guidebooks related to Agent 007. Many such books have been published, including The James Bond Bedside Companion by Raymond Benson (one of the post-Fleming Bond novelists), The Incredible World of 007 by Lee Pfeiffer and Philip Lisa, Bond Girls Are Forever by John Cork and Maryam D'Abo (Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights), and James Bond: The Legacy by John Cork and Bruce Scivally. Of course, the Internet also provides informational resources on Bond, including Bond-related web sites and articles in Wikipedia.
Even so, one Bond source still remains my all-time favorite. The Ultimate James Bond: An Interactive Dossier is a CD-ROM reference guide to James Bond, released in 1996 by MGM Interactive. It has the feel of a top-secret electronic document belonging to MI6, the British Secret Service. It unites the content of all the official Bond films from Dr. No in 1962 to Goldeneye in 1995. Regardless of which Bond films are your most and least favorite, each Bond film is covered in equally superb detail. You can read about things as diverse as the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger, Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever, the wrist gun in Moonraker, the Zorin Industries microchip in A View to a Kill, and Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye.
When you start the program, you see a video that starts like a Bond movie, with the famous gun-barrel sequence. Then you see a montage of clips from the Bond movies before you finally reach the main menu of the CD-ROM. From there, you can review the information by movie (or mission, as this dossier calls it) or by topic (Allies, Villains, Women, Gadgets, and Vehicles). The bulk of the content are the numerous articles of people and things in the James Bond films, with detailed text and accompanying pictures, audio, and video clips from the films.
If you review the contents by mission, you can access the articles on the allies, villains, women, and gadgets from that particular Bond movie. You can also read about the locations around the world where the movie takes place. This is illustrated well with a world map and arrows corresponding to Bond's itinerary during the movie. Other contents in the movie sections include biographies of notable cast and crew, excerpts from critical reviews of the movie, and even a list of real-life events that occurred during the same year the Bond film was released, like the famous walk on the moon in 1969 (when On Her Majesty's Secret Service came out) and the verdict of the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995 (when Goldeneye was released).
There are two other nice features of the dossier. One is a Bond trivia game that becomes increasingly difficult as you progress. The other is the help menu. Desmond Llewelyn has appeared in the Bond movies as the gadgetmaster Q and does so again in the help menu for this CD-ROM. He gives a brief overview of how to use this CD-ROM. He also appears when you quit the program but wait until a 10-second self-destruct mechanism goes off, a humorous touch to this dossier.
Obviously, this CD-ROM guide is not a truly complete guide to James Bond because it covers the film series up to 1995 and provides more brief information on non-film Bond content, such as the Bond novels by Ian Fleming and John Gardner. Still, the content of The Ultimate James Bond still lives up to its name. There is so much to read that there's no reason to say that it falls short. I do wish that this exact same CD-ROM can be continually updated with information on the Bond movies after 1995. As it is, this is a Bond guide that fans must have, and because it's probably becoming a rarity, they will certainly be hunting everywhere for it.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films (the first 17 films)