Review for GoldenEye
Would you believe that Goldeneye was the first James Bond movie I watched in the cinema? I was never really of an age to watch the Roger Moore Bond movies that way, and by the time Timothy Dalton briefly donned the tuxedo, my interests in action cinema had turned elsewhere. There was a six year gap between Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton’s last outing as the superspy and the return of the franchise with Pierce Brosnan filling the role. That was probably the longest gap between releases, a period where the action movie genre was ruled by Hollywood superstars like Schwarzenegger, Willis, Stallone and van Damme, and the thought of a British secret agent getting into his fourth decade of movies might have felt outdated and quaint. It turns out that the world was craving more adventures with author Ian Fleming’s greatest creation, a whole new audience was ready for James Bond, and a whole new medium as well. Goldeneye is still wistfully discussed when it comes to the greatest ever videogames; but does the film still hold up?
Bond is supposed to be having his evaluation, but he manages to distract the woman sent to evaluate him. But a greater distraction is the Tiger Eurocopter, being shown off to potential buyers, and Bond has just seen an operative of the Janus criminal organisation in town. He figures it out a little too late, and the helicopter is stolen. It eventually turns up at the scene of another audacious theft, that of a powerful secret Russian satellite weapon. There’s only one survivor of that theft, and Bond will have to go to the former Soviet Union to have a chance of finding her, and tracking down the thieves. But the truth behind Janus lies in a mission to the then USSR, nine years previously, when James Bond 007 was teamed up with Alec Trevelyan, 006.
Goldeneye gets a 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, and you have the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, DTS 5.1 Surround French and German, and DD 5.1 Surround Spanish and Portuguese, with subtitles in these languages, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The image is adequate, clear and sharp with a strong level of detail, colours are consistent, although there is a push towards the orange and teal when it comes to colour timing. Contrast is excellent, and black levels are rich and impressive, but the almost non-existent grain suggests the application of DNR. The audio experience is a little better, the dialogue remaining clear throughout, and the action coming across well. It’s a nice immersive presentation. But this is the film where I stopped caring about Bond theme songs. Tina Turner’s effort is solid enough, but not quite memorable, and it only goes downhill from there. Worse is the use of Eric Serra, often Luc Besson’s collaborator, as the film’s composer. His quirky style doesn’t fit the Bond universe that well, and he’s remarkably timid with the Bond theme, using understated arrangements, when he dares to use the theme at all. I’d call it tantric, only there’s never any sense of climactic release.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray case, with a UV code slipped within. The disc boots to an animated menu.
The MI6 Commentary features director Martin Campbell and producer Michael G Wilson.
The bulk of the featurettes are in Declassified: MI6 Vault.
There are 4 Deleted Scenes running to 6:13
Directing Bond: The Martin Chronicles (10:19)
Directing Bond Segments With Martin Campbell Comments x2 (1:59)
Building a Better Bond: Pre-Production Featurette (9:04)
Driven to Bond: Remy Julienne (2:58)
Anatomy of a Stunt: Tank vs. Perrier (6:10)
Making it Small in Pictures: Derek Meddings (2:40)
On Location with Peter Lamont (12:32)
Goldeneye: The Secret Files (28:31)
Goldeneye: The Secret Files – The Cast (12:21)
Pre-Title Storyboard Sequences with Director Martin Campbell (1:37)
There are more in Mission Dossier
The World of 007 – Original 1995 Television Special Hosted By Elizabeth Hurley (43:31)
The Goldeneye Video Journal (14:16)
Promotional Featurette (5:22)
Goldeneye Music Video performed by Tina Turner (3:33)
Exotic Locations (3:07)
Ministry of Propaganda contains two Theatrical Trailers and 12 TV Spots.
There are finally 14 categories of Image Gallery to peruse.
I had the typical cinema experience with Goldeneye... annoying tweens in the row in front laughing at inappropriate things until someone with a shorter fuse than I snapped and gave them some verbal. That’s not good during a Bond pre-credits sequence, which didn’t dispose me well to how that scene ended, with a physics defying cliff fall sequence, where a guy on a falling motorbike catches a falling plane. That annoyed my inner physicist so much that I just didn’t enjoy the film. And now, 25 years later, I still feel the same way about Goldeneye. Sure, it rejuvenated the Bond film franchise, brought it to a whole new generation of fans, but for me it was a massive step back, undoing all the good work that the Timothy Dalton movies had done taking Bond into a more realistic, emotionally dark direction, instead taking the franchise right back to frivolous levity of the Moore movies.
Sure, in Pierce Brosnan we had an actor that fit the role, and he definitely made it his own, and in general strokes the story is engaging, showing us the last gasp of the USSR in the pre-credits sequence, and then taking us on a ride through the new, open, and democratic Russia of the old Yeltsin era, more comical than communist. There’s the hope of a more realistic story, with the potential of the world being held to ransom by an EMP weapon, an idea that was more than flirted with in the fifties and sixties. They even tested high altitude nukes to see what effect it would have on electronics and communications; the conclusion was that it was too much of a double-edged sword to be viable as a weapon.
But then we get Bond’s take on the idea, which takes us into the modern era of the Internet, albeit with dial-up, Geocities, and Internet cafes. There’s plenty of Hollywood hacking in this film, which even back in 1995 was a strike against it. And in this world, an EMP weapon causes big ‘splosions, which makes the threat visible and more spectacular than a simple blackout and silent hard-drive erasure. But what really kills Goldeneye for me is Xenia Onatopp, a name that makes Pussy Galore seem subtle. She’s the main henchperson in this film, a sadist who is enthusiastically sexual to a comical degree. There’s a bad sex award for the worst authors each year; if only there was a similar one for acting performances. It’s hardly worth saying at this point that the Q Branch interlude is purely comic relief now.
With Pierce Brosnan the producers had the chance to reinvent Bond for the 90s. And they did when it comes to stunts and special effects, direction and pacing, and especially the story, the tech and the gadgets. But in terms of the style, the emphasis on comedy, this is a Bond film that is firmly wedged back in the seventies. Things would get better with the Brosnan movies, before falling off a cliff, but it would take the next Bond to truly reinvent the franchise. This Blu-ray’s good enough, but it could be better.