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MGM

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Martin Campbell
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Cumming
Writing Credits:
Ian Fleming (characters), Michael France (story), Jeffrey Caine, Bruce Feirstein

Tagline:
You know the name. You know the number.

Synopsis:
This movie marked Pierce Brosnan's debut as James Bond and the introduction of 007's new female boss, "M" (Judi Dench). This time, the superspy teams up with computer programmer Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) to prevent a Russian rebel (Robbie Coltrane) and an ex-00 agent (Sean Bean) from destroying London with a stolen secret weapon — GoldenEye, a satellite that can destroy all electronic communications.

Box Office:
Budget
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$26.205 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$106.600 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 10/19/1999

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Martin Campbell and Producer Michael G. Wilson
• “The GoldenEye Video Journal” Featurette
• “The World of 007” Documentary
• Promotional Featurette
• Music Video
• Trailers and TV Spots
• Booklet


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


GoldenEye (1995)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 5, 2007)

Even if one doesn't care for Pierce Brosnan’s take on the character, one must give him credit for helping revitalize a dormant franchise. Prior to 1995's GoldenEye, no Bond film appeared since Licence to Kill in 1989. Though that movie was really a very good picture, it pretty much tanked at the box office and sent the Bond series into its six-year hibernation.

Brosnan and GoldenEye changed that for the better. The movie did quite well financially and put Bond back in the public eye. The character went into slight hibernation again after 2002’s Die Another Day; the four-year gap between it and 2006’s Casino Royale is the second-longest break in the franchise’s 44-year history. However, this hiatus seemed like an attempt to secure the franchise’s future, whereas the 1989-1995 pause looked like one from which Bond might never return.

Whatever one takes as its historical significance, I simply find GoldenEye to present a solid Bond film. There's not much I'd want from Bond that doesn't appear here. The plot seems appropriately epic but remains comprehensible and doesn't become too convoluted or overblown. The action appears well orchestrated and often thrilling, with some typically ludicrous elements that nonetheless are lots of fun.

Brosnan makes for a fine Bond. He lacks the intensity of Connery but he also easily avoids the silliness and campiness of Roger Moore. Is this Bond as envisioned by Ian Fleming? Probably not. Nonetheless, Brosnan manages an appropriate level of substance without seeming stuffy or overly serious; he keeps the film moving at a snappy pace.

The supporting cast also seems quite good. Izabella Scorupco and Famke Janssen provide fine turns as the good Bond girl and the villainess, respectively. Janssen seems especially effective as one of the more amusingly sadistic baddies to hit the screen. Judi Dench is strong as the new "M", but Samantha Bond seems too cutesy and lacks substance as Moneypenny. Sean Bean creates a strong villain, and both Robbie Coltrane and Joe Don Baker add delightful supporting turns.

GoldenEye doesn't quite equal the heights of the Connery years, but it makes for a thoroughly entertaining entry into the Bond archives. Happily, it brought Bond back to prominence and helped make the franchise viable and productive again.


The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

GoldenEye appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer showed a number of concerns and was consistently lackluster.

Many of the issues related to sharpness. While the flick never became terribly undefined, it often looked oddly fuzzy and unfocused. This was most apparent in wide shots but cropped up in many other instances as well. Sharpness was too erratic across the board. Minor examples of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, and I noticed some light edge enhancement. As for source defects, I saw a mix of specks and spots. Though never intense, these seemed heavy for such a recent release.

Colors worked better but could also be erratic. The tones were acceptable for the most part but never better than that, and they showed a little runniness at times. Blacks were fairly deep and dense, while shadows appeared acceptably clear and concise. Although I never thought the transfer was poor, it lacked the impact I expected.

At least the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track of GoldenEye proved more satisfying. On the positive side, the mix provided a good surround environment that immersed the viewer. The forward soundstage seemed well-defined, with accurately placed audio that meshed together neatly. The rear channels added a great deal to the impact of the mix, with nicely-integrated sound that seemed realistic and made the appropriately thunderous impact. This was a terrific soundfield that used all the channels to solid effect.

Quality seemed erratic. While much of the dialogue was dubbed, it sounded clear and fairly natural and always was easily intelligible. Music seemed fine, though highs were a little flat at times. Effects usually appeared realistic and clean, though some distortion occasionally crept into the mix. These also sounded somewhat harsh at times, especially during explosions, gunfire or plane fly-bys. Low-end was loud but could be loose. Bass response didn’t seem as taut as I’d like. Really, it tended to overwhelm the action, a fact that occasionally made it something of a distraction. The movie boasted an “A” soundfield but only “B-“ sound quality, so my overall score wound up as a “B+”.

As we shift to supplements, we start with an audio commentary from director Martin Campbell and producer Michael G. Wilson. I've heard a lot of commentaries attached to Bond films, and many of them seem somewhat dry at times. In contrast, this is probably the best of the bunch. Wilson and Campbell seem to have a good rapport and they offer a wide variety of interesting details and anecdotes in a very engaging manner. I've listened to this track a few times over the years and I continue to find it very enjoyable.

The GoldenEye DVD also includes a 43 minute program called The World of 007. As hinted by that title, this documentary doesn't specifically focus on GoldenEye itself, though there is a minor section about that film. Instead, the program offers a light and frothy history of the entire series. Hosted by Elizabeth Hurley, the show originally appeared in 1995 as a promotional piece prior to the release of GoldenEye and it does a good job of highlighting the series' history. A nice variety of topics are covered, and we see some good archival footage. Plus the luscious Miss Hurley wears an ever-changing array of alluring outfits. While I'd prefer a more detailed feature about GoldenEye itself, this show nonetheless offers a lot of fun information in a pleasant manner.

Next comes a documentary called The GoldenEye Video Journal. This 14-minute program doesn't offer much depth but it provides some interesting interview clips and some cool behind the scenes footage. I don't know why, but I found it very entertaining to watch Minnie Driver lip-synch to inaudible accompaniment. It's definitely worth a watch.

A promotional featurette makes the DVD as well. This piece lasts for a little more than five minutes, and while it falls into the "glorified trailer" category that typifies featurettes, it's not bad.

Other promotional materials find their way onto the GoldenEye DVD. We get the music video for Tina Turner's title song. It's lavishly produced but still essentially sticks to the traditional video-for-a-movie-song formula: shots of the performer lip-synching intercut with film scenes. At least it's better than most of these, though.

The standard theatrical trailer and the clever teaser trailer appear, as do twelve TV spots. Finally, the GoldenEye DVD includes a nice eight-page booklet inside the case. It offers some fun facts about the production; you'll hear some of them elsewhere, but most aren't repeated in other areas.

After a six-year break, 1995’s GoldenEye brought the Bond franchise back to prominence. 11 years later, it remains a fun and inviting adventure. The DVD offers problematic picture and generally positive sound along with some good extras. Though this isn’t one of the best Bond discs, it works well enough to earn my recommendation.

To rate this film visit the Ultimate Edition review of GOLDENEYE

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