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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, Greek, Polish, Dutch, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian
  Extras
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director Martin Campbell and producer Michael G.Wilson
  • Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Goldeneye - Tina Turner
  • 12 TV spot
  • Booklet
  • Awards/Nominations
  • Documentaries - The World of 007

Goldeneye - Special Edition

MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 125 mins . M . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This James Bond guy, just why does he keep looking different all the time? I know six years had passed since the last instalment in his adventures (Licence to Kill), but still.

Well, being the curious little Alice-like thing that I am I thought it high time that somebody made an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery, so after much covert hacking about in the files of MI6 I have finally discovered the answer for you all. You see, apparently Q was not merely a highly skilled techno-boffin; he was also rather adroit with the old plastic surgeonís knife. Now I think perhaps it's prudent for me to go into hiding, but before I do it's on with the seventeenth instalment from the 007 files...

James Bond: That chap who could easily pass himself off as Mr Sheffield in The Nanny.

Main love interest: Super-duper cool nerd grrl Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco).

Ancillary love interests to help maintain 007's sex god status: A psychologist (Caroline, I believe), and Xenia Onatopp (sort of Ė however more on her shortly...)

Evil baddie hell bent on massive fiscal gain (and revenge, of course): Leader of Russian crime syndicate Janus, Alec Trevalyan (Sean Bean) - somebody James used to number amongst his close friends...

Baddie's henchmen: The gloriously over-the-top Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) Ė humph, why canít I be more like her?, Colonel Ouroumof (Gottfried John - looking for all the world like a Thunderbirds puppet that underwent a Pinocchio-type metamorphosis), hyper-nerd Boris Grishenko (Alan Cumming Ė a rather appropriately Bond name when you think about it), plus the usual assortment of nameless guys with their uniforms and big pointy-shooty things.

Theme: Goldeneye by Tina Turner, and written by U2ís Bono and The Edge.

Exotic locations: Russia, Monte Carlo (not the bickie silly, the place!), the Caribbean, Cuba, England (why of course my dear fellows.)

Modes of transportation: Conveyor belt, Pilatus Porter airplane (never let it be said I donít watch all the extra bits!), motorcycle, Aston Martin (swoon!), BMW Z3 convertible (there will be no complaints if anybody wants to give me one of these either Ė one in that yummy metallic dark green would be just perfect, ta!), Boeing 757, a funky little blue bubble car thingy, some sort of generic looking Russian sedan, helicopter ejector capsule, parachute, tank (yes, a big, metal, caterpillar-track equipped lump with a gun on it), some sort of Cessna-esque light plane, an army troopship helicopter thing, train (well, sort ofÖ) that looks like it was inspired by the Easter Island statues.

Blatant product placement: Ferrari, Bollinger, British Airways, Perrier, BMW, IBM.

Plot summary: Some naughty folk have Hong Kong Phooeyed the two real pilots, taken their place and stolen the new super-stealthy Tiger helicopter from a demonstration in France. Now who are they, who are they working for and what nefarious deeds do they intend to do with it? Well, it just may tie in to the theft of a Russian satellite-based missile system named Goldeneye from a weapons bunker in Russia, a device capable of sending out a finely targeted electro-magnetic pulse that wipes out all electronic equipment within a certain radius (yes little Billy, I'm afraid that even your Gameboy will be toast). Our man Bond must find out who has pinched it, and more importantly stop them before they get the opportunity to use it to zap the stuffing out of (gulp) his beloved hometown of London. In other words itís basically the same old plot stuck in a blender - this is of course exactly what we want in a Bond film.

"I enjoy a spirited ride as much as the next girl..."

  Video
Contract

It's a latter day Bond flick, so mercifully we're spared the attack of the killer measles that most of the earlier instalments suffered from. This isnít to say that it's speckle free, but the few that pop up are scarcely major distractions for a change. Besides, look at the rest of the print and you canít help but be impressed.

We're treated to near perfect black levels and contrast, and the colour is rendered beautifully - from the gaudiness of the inevitable casino scene, to the bleakness of the Russian winter, all comes up looking like it should. As is expected it comes to us 16x9 enhanced, and in the original (and glorious) cinematic ratio of 2.35:1.

The Bond DVDs are renowned for their usually dodgy layer changes, this one isnít perfect, but is one of the better examples available, with a quick break in the sound being the only real giveaway of its presence.

The only cause for a stroppy hissy fit here is the same as with Tomorrow Never Dies, the natty subtitles from the original film have been erased in favour of using the plonky old built-in ones of the player. This is absolutely unforgivable (and just plain lazy) as far as I am concerned, and once again I have deducted points from my ratings for it.

  Audio
Contract

Well, they say nobody does it better, and when it comes to the sonic assault of a Bond DVD it is a very apt saying indeed. Divulging its roots as being the European release, rather than that from the UK, we are given a choice of languages in Dolby 5.1 of English, Italian and French - plus there's even Hungarian (in Dolby 2.0 Stereo) if youíre feeling lingually adventurous. This information is not credited on the packaging.

Anybody getting their mitts on a 007 DVD expects the myriad of booms and bangs to sound incredible, and believe me they do. If you want an example disc to show off your speaker system to somebody with, then Goldeneye would be a fantastic one to have those jaws a dropping and dribble a dribbling. There's nothing to complain about here at all really. Synching is fine, and the only troubles with dialogue you may have are some of the bodgy Russian accents we're subjected to from a cast that includes absolutely nobody from anywhere resembling a place with iron curtains - although Dutch-born Famke makes a reasonable fist of it (not that I'm biased at all...)

Speaking of bodgy Russian accents, the soundtrack is so merciless as to include a certain Minnie Driver caterwauling Stand By Your Man in a rather thick one. Elsewhere, the main soundtrack stuff is done by Eric Serra. He's no John Barry, or indeed no David Arnold for that matter, but he has come up with a more than serviceable Bondy vibe, which whilst often rather predictable, never grates (unlike the previous instalment in the series).

The theme is belted out by Tina Turner (pause to marvel at this incredible woman), and as mentioned earlier was written by Bono and The Edge of U2. To be honest I still find it a little bit drab as far as Bond themes go, lacking the bombastic excitement of what I consider the utter classics, however I know there are just as many who rate this one highly, so I'll let you be the judge.

  Extras
Contract

Animated menus: Just as slick as previous efforts, the slight delays getting around can tend to grate after a while, however they beat the stuffing out of ploddy old static menus any day of the week. My only grumble is as with other Bond discs, the menus are mighty impatient little buggers and kick you out if they remain dormant for more than about a minute - another dreadful habit some authors seem to have, and they should be severely spanked for it.

Commentary Ė Director Martin Campbell and producer Michael D. Wilson: Bond commentaries are generally rather dry, on the rare occasions that they indeed actually are commentaries rather than just compilations of interview clips strung together. Mercifully this is a real commentary. The two other M's have quite the rapport, and of all the Bond commentaries I have waded through this would rate as one of the most interesting by far. Many fascinating behind the scenes titbits are here for all to enjoy, often pointing out the extreme measures taken for shots that we often pretty much take for granted after being spoiled by so many classic Bond adventures. This is most definitely a must for even the most casual of 007 fans.

Documentary - The World of 007: OK, I'll admit it - I'm a sucker for these. The seemingly inevitable television special produced for the release of Goldeneye, it is hosted by human stick insect Liz Hurley, who gets to parade around in all manner of glorious frocks, and even sits in THE Aston Martin. Bitch! But anyway, this is a 42-minute (or thereabouts if you wish to get technical) special featuring the usual array of sections focussing on the legend of Bond, the baddies, the gadgets, the women, the stunts and the music - plus the plug for the new flick, of course. Featuring clips from various televisual 007 homages (Married With Children, Saturday Night Live) to heaps of wonderful classic 007 movie footage, behind the scenes stuff through the years and interviews with countless stars ranging from an incredibly (and justifiably) gleeful Pierce Brosnan and most all the other Bonds through to many of the villains, their henchmen and the gals to stunt people and the likes of composer John Barry, Shirley Bassey and Tina Turner, it is one of those riveting specials that seems to pass but in the blink of a (Golden) eye.

Featurette Ė The Goldeneye Video journal: A just under 15-minute presentation, essentially this serves to introduce the new Bond Pierce Brosnan, then veers off to present us with much behind the scenes footage. Included are looks at the first day of shooting, the new M (Judi Dench), Q's workshop and a couple of the stunts, all interspersed with interview footage from the likes of Brosnan and Robbie Coltrane. It's full frame, with clips from the film in their proper ratio.

Promotional Featurette Ė Behind the Scenes: A five-minute long puff-piece, reiterating some of what is featured in the video journal, but also featuring interviews with Izabella and Famke. It's a bit grainy and muffled, however it's so short that it isnít of major concern.

Music video - Goldeneye: Another 007 theme video clip - you know what to expect. The usual introductory credits type pastiche, all close-ups on shapely bimbettes, guns and the like - however this time you get the fabulous Tina Turner writhing around as well, complete with more finger adornments than the entire clientele of Tiffany's - ever. It's full frame, with pretend widescreen bits, also in keeping with other recent theme video clips, and for some curious reason the sound is a tad muffled. Unlike some recent themes it doesnít outstay its welcome, clocking in at around 3:20.

Theatrical trailer 1: Running for just under three minutes, presented in its correct ratio AND anamorphically enhanced, this is as action-packed as they come. It does however include what I consider to be a couple of major spoilers.

Theatrical trailer 2: Curiously this 1:40 trailer isn't anamorphic, however it does feature some specially prepared footage and doesnít have a silly voiceover like the other one.

TV Spots: Twelve of the little blighters that appear to be from the US, one at 60 seconds, eight at 30 seconds and three almost blipvert-like 15 second ones. Ranging from before the film's release through the Christmas and New Year periods, these also include some specially prepared footage, and many of them are quite inventive. Definitely worth a quick look at, the only annoyance is that they canít all be played consecutively, and every time one finishes it kicks you back to having the first one selected, rather than using just a little bit of intuition in realising that we'd most likely prefer to be lobbed at the next one available.

Collector's booklet: Eight pages of glorious full-colouredness, concentrating on the actual film rather than delving into historical lessons like many previous efforts, as well as including a scene selection list.

  Overall  
Contract

Neophytes may argue that if you've seen one Bond adventure you've seen them all, however anybody that's even a little clued up will know that this simply isnít the case. Sure there are many staples that we have come to expect - the car chases (and big "yay!"s as there's a spectacular one here within the first fifteen minutes), the cornball lines, the spectacular stunts and locations, the babes, the baddies etc - however the execution of such staples, along with their surrounding plots, has been known to vary greatly throughout the history of the franchise between being at times absolutely scintillating and at others utterly stupefying.

There was a lot riding on Goldeneye. Due to contractual bunkum 007 had been on ice for six years, after Timothy Dalton's limited tenure they were faced with introducing a new Bond (not to mention a new M and new Moneypenny - oh, too late!), they had essentially run out of Ian Fleming stories to work from ('Goldeneye' was in fact the name of the author's Jamaican home) and also had to deal with changes in the way of the world, especially in light of political correctness continuing to stick out its ugly head and the thawing of the Cold War. The great news is that they came up with an absolute winner here. Whilst probably just behind Tomorrow Never Dies in the excitement stakes, a combination of all the hallmarks of an absolute classic Bond film are included here in spades, from an ever-so-nasty baddie with a twist, to the utterly fabulous gusto of Xenia Onatopp, who surely must be one of the greatest villainesses in the history of Bond movies, if not film itself. And to not mention Pierce Brosnan would be a crime, as he has become probably the quintessential Bond after Sean Connery (apparently it was the late, great Desmond Llewellyn (Q)'s opinion that he was indeed the best), it's just a shame that episode twenty is apparently going to be his fourth and last. And if whispers that Barbara Broccoli is seriously interested in pop-boy Robbie Williams (ex of Take That) then we may not see past a 21st instalment...

The Goldeneye disc is near faultless, save for the video quibbles I mentioned previously. Hence this serves as another of the better Bond DVDs available, be you a drooling fan-thing, or simply somebody out for a rollicking fairground ride-like cinematic experience. Anybody wishing to have a fantastic sound system show-off disc would also be well advised to check this out.

Fans and collectors should also be delighted to know that unlike the first local release of Goldeneye, this is most definitely the completely uncut version. Now if only they would make amends for the travesty that is the re-release of Tomorrow Never Dies...

Oh, and for all Bond's reputation for rampant misogyny (even gleefully alluded to by M here), as with other recent 007 outings itís a chick that plays a vital role in the success of James' mission. Heehee, I've said it before and I'll say it again, praise be for nerd grrls!


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      And I quote...
    "An utterly winning 007 adventure - a combination of all the hallmarks of an absolute classic Bond film are included here in spades..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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