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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 9/21/99



GoldenEye

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

The James Bond Special Edition DVD Collection


GoldenEye: Special Edition

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

GoldenEye: Special Edition
1995 (1999) - MGM/UA

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/A+

Specs and Features:

130 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (movie on one layer, extras on the other), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary with director Martin Campbell and producer Michael Wilson, GoldenEye Video Journal featurette, The World of 007 documentary, promotional featurette, 2 theatrical trailers, 12 TV spots, Tomorrow Never Dies Sony Playstation game trailer, Tina Turner GoldenEye music video, booklet, "computer interface" style animated film-themed menu screens with sound and music, scene access (49 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Close Captioned



GoldenEye (original DVD release)

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

GoldenEye
1995 (1997) - MGM/UA

Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/D+

Specs and Features:

130 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (widescreen on one layer, full frame on the other), Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (49 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French & Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French & Spanish, Closed Captioned

Pierce Brosnan takes the helm as Agent 007, James Bond, in this sleek, post-Cold War thriller. Brosnan, best known previously as TV's Remington Steele, was originally supposed to take the role in 1987, but was unable to get himself released from his TV contract (Timothy Dalton was chosen as an alternate Bond, and played the role in two films). Although late to pick up the coveted Walther PPK, Brosnan has since become the perfect Bond, portraying just the right measure of style, intensity and all-around coolness under fire (I think he's the best Bond since Connery).

The story told in GoldenEye is an interesting one - a tale of espionage, betrayal and revenge, set in the post-Cold War world. While on a mission to destroy Russia's Arkangel chemical weapons facility, 007 teams up with his long-time comrade Alec Trevelyan (aka 006, played by Sean Bean). Although they manage to destroy the plant, Trevelyan is killed in the process. Several years later, Bond is on holiday, when he stumbles across a sexy-but-deadly femme fatale (named Xenia Onatopp - pun intended), who manages to steal a top-secret, stealth helicopter from a French warship. A short time later, the helicopter is used by a rogue Russian general to hijack a Russian military weapon called GoldenEye - an orbiting electromagnetic pulse satellite, capable of destroying the computer systems of any target city or facility. Of course, the British can't have one of those in the hands of any Tom, Dick or Harry, so MI-6's famed "M" (played as a woman - a nice twist - by the esteemed Judi Dench) sends Bond into the former Soviet Union to stop it.

Along the way, 007 enlists the assistance of one of the technicians who worked on the GoldenEye project (the film's sexy Bond girl, played by Izabella Scorupco), and a ball-busting American CIA agent (played by Joe Don Baker). Soon, however, 007 discovers the real mastermind of the GoldenEye theft - his old friend Trevelyan, back from the dead. It seems 006 is a little pissed with James and his fellow Brits, and he's got a nasty plan to extract revenge. With GoldenEye, you get babes, bullets. a tank-chase through St. Petersburg, a world-record bungee jump, and good old "Q" too (played by Desmond Llewelyn - still crazy after all these years). What more could you want?

This new special edition DVD version of GoldenEye includes an anamorphic widescreen presentation (the same widescreen transfer as used on the previous DVD release, shown above). The film looks generally good, if a little lacking in crisp detail. There's some moderate film grain visible on this particular print (which is entirely natural, but which does result in an occasionally soft-looking picture, as well as some rare digital artifacting, as the MPEG-2 compression works to reproduce the grain of the print). A slight bit of video edge-enhancement appears to have been used on the videotape master. Still, the color is excellent overall, and there is very good contrast and black detail visible. To save room, the full frame version of the film (which was available on the original DVD release) has been omitted on the SE.

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (a 2.0 French track is also included, but not the original DVD's Spanish track). On the whole, the audio is excellent, with deep booming bass, and excellent clarity. The rear channels are put to good use, with plenty of directional surround sound effects (particularly during the attack on the chemical weapons plant), and very nice atmospheric fill. Dialogue is at all times clear, and the film's musical score (by composer Eric Serra) is well presented.

But it's the extras here that really impress - you get more than you can shake a stick at (the previous DVD release included only a trailer). To start with, you get a good audio commentary track, featuring director Martin Campbell and producer Michael Wilson. They relate lots of detail about the stunt work, the opening sequence, and other interesting bits of behind-the-scenes information. I particularly enjoyed their take on the difference in doing a post-Cold War Bond film, and how the character has adapted to the new political realities of the world. The disc also includes an excellent behind-the-scenes featurette, the 14-minute GoldenEye Video Journal, which features interviews with the cast and crew, a look at the various locations and stunt sequences, and more. A 43-minute, made-for-TV documentary, The World of 007, is also included. Hosted by Elizabeth Hurley, it looks back at Bond film history, and ahead at GoldenEye (it was produced to hype the film's release). You also get a 5-minute promotional featurette, 2 theatrical trailers, 12 TV spots, Tina Turner's GoldenEye music video (written by U2's Bono and the Edge), a nifty booklet, and even the Tomorrow Never Dies Sony Playstation game trailer. But perhaps best of all, the GoldenEye: SE has some of the coolest-looking animated menu screens I've seen in a long time (see below). Produced by 1K studios, they emulate the style of the classic Bond film opening sequences, with sexy imagery, sound effects and music, all leading to a "computer interface" style main menu page, which gives you access to all the goodies on the disc. VERY cool.

The GoldenEye: Special Edition is one damn fine DVD - a must have for every Bond fan. It is also a huge improvement over the previous Snapper case DVD release. The disc, which streets on 10/19, will be available by itself (SRP $34.98), and in the new James Bond DVD Gift Set (SRP $199.98) - look for much better prices online. It's definitely not to be missed.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com

A look at 1K Studio's animated menus for GoldenEye...
GoldenEye menu animation

GoldenEye menu animation

GoldenEye menu animation


The James Bond Special Edition DVD Collection

GoldenEye: Special Edition


The James Bond DVD Collection, Volume One

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