The Goonies appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though often attractive, some problems materialized along the way.
Sharpness was the only real concern, mostly because a lot of the flick looked rather soft. At times, the flick appeared quite tight and distinctive, but a lot of the movie appeared a bit ill-defined. Some of this may’ve been from the original photography, but I got the impression digital noise reduction affected the situation as well; even in the many low-light sequences, grain was minimal, and the image took on a somewhat plastic appearance that comes with too much DNR. Maybe I'm wrong and the transfer represented the original photography, but I thought it looked like it’d been processed too much, and that created some sharpness issues.
Otherwise, the image excelled. I noticed no edge haloes, shimmering or jaggies, and source flaws were absent. Colors were rich and vibrant. The film generally went with a naturalistic palette, and the disc showed these tones with fine clarity and vibrancy. Chunk’s hideous shirt displayed some lively hues, and other clothes and sets also demonstrated nice colors.
Black levels were also deep and rich, and shadow detail looked excellent; these offered clean and nicely visible images. As I mentioned earlier, the movie came with quite a few low-light sequences, and I thought they demonstrated good balance and clarity. Parts of the image looked excellent, but the moderate softness made this a “B-“ presentation.
On the other hand, I felt very pleased with the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of The Goonies. The mix showed its age at times, but as a whole it provided an active and involving experience. The soundfield favored the forward channels, where I heard a broad and engaging image. Music featured good stereo separation as the movie’s score sounded neatly delineated.
Quite a lot of effects came from the side speakers, as the mix added a great deal of discrete sounds from the left and right channels. However, I thought these elements of the track tended to seem fairly “speaker-specific”. Sounds blended acceptably at times, but usually the elements appeared to be stuck a little heavily within the specific channels. The localization was strong, but the bits didn’t fit together as well as I would’ve liked.
Surround usage seemed solid for the era. For the most part, the track offered general reinforcement of both music and effects, but a few scenes featured greater activity levels. The action sequences came to life nicely, and some split-surround activity occurred as well; for example, the scene in which the bats flew around the kids appeared nicely realistic and involving. Overall, the soundfield provided good breadth and dimensionality across the channels that seemed superior to the vast majority of films from the period.
Audio quality also sounded good, though a few small concerns appeared. Dialogue generally appeared to be acceptably distinct and crisp. Some lines appeared moderately thick and muffled, but these were infrequent instances, as most of the speech provided adequate delineation, and I noticed no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music seemed to be nicely lush and vibrant throughout the movie, as John Williams’ score offered solid fidelity. Dynamic range appeared to be strong, and the music showed good depth.
Bass response seemed even livelier in regard to the film’s effects. Many elements demonstrated very deep and rich low-end. For instance, an early thunderstorm displayed positive rumbling, and Sloth’s roar really shook the house. Effects also were clean and realistic, and they showed no signs of distortion. Ultimately, the soundtrack of The Goonies was quite strong for an older piece.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, though all of the disc-based components already appeared on the 2001 DVD. Most significant is an audio commentary from director Richard Donner and all of the “Goonies” themselves. We hear from actors Corey Feldman, Sean Astin, Kerri Green, Josh Brolin, Ke Huy Quan, Martha Plimpton and Jeff Cohen. All were recorded together for this running, screen-specific affair.
With some multiple-participant tracks, the proceedings can become rather chaotic as too many people try to speak at once. That problem occurs occasionally during Goonies, but it’s mainly apparent early in the piece; after a few minutes, the eight of them manage to balance their remarks fairly well.
Somewhat surprisingly, this commentary suffers from a few empty spaces; that seems odd since it includes so many potential speakers. Some of them come and go as well. Brolin briefly splits to use the can, and Astin completely departs at one point. Nonetheless, the track as a whole seems spirited and entertaining, and it includes a fair amount of information about the film.
However, this isn’t the place to come if you desire a wealth of nuts and bolts facts about the production. Instead, Goonies mainly sticks with anecdotes from the kids’ experiences, and many of these are quite fun. Not surprisingly, Feldman seems a little too pleased with himself, and he tries too hard to be witty and irreverent.
Otherwise, the group generally falls into a nice rhythm as they enjoy the film and laugh at it as well. Donner largely sits back throughout the piece, and sometimes it doesn’t seem clear that he actually remembers the movie at all, but he chimes in often enough to make his presence worthwhile. In the end, I rather liked this lively little track.
According to the disc’s case, the commentary also includes “hidden video treasures”. This means that it occasionally becomes a video program. During a few sections of the film, the movie image shrinks to the lower right corner of the screen as footage of the recording session then dominates. You don’t have to do anything to activate the video segments while you watch the film. Instead, if you select the commentary from the main menu, the footage will appear automatically.
This feature remains somewhat gimmicky, but in this case, I thought it was somewhat useful, mainly due to the high number of participants. When heard solely as audio, it could be tough to know who spoke when, and this program helped narrow down the possibilities. It was also nice to see the limited interactions between the members of the panel.
The next most significant extra comes in the Outtakes section. These are actually deleted scenes from the film, and we find three of them. Each runs between three minutes, 12 seconds and one minute, 52 seconds for a total of six minutes, 53 seconds of footage. The second clip simply offered a little additional - and fairly unnecessary - exposition, but the others clear up some of the film’s gaffes. Snippet one shows how the map got burned, while bit three offers the famous octopus sequence. These are a nice little addition to the set.
The Making of The Goonies provides a 1985 featurette. The six-minute, 49-second piece lacks any real depth about the production as it combines a few film clips with brief interview snippets and shots from the set. The sound bites mainly focus on Donner, but we also quickly see Steven Spielberg and actors Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano and Robert Davi. These are interesting, especially as Donner semi-jokingly discusses working with some many kids, but the behind the scenes images offer the show’s clear highlight. Most of this short piece gives us great shots of Donner as he directs the kids, and they’re a lot of fun to see.
Next we find the music video for Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”. I didn’t have MTV when this clip bowed in mid-1985, but apparently it ran as a two-part “cliffhanger”. Back in that era, some artists experimented with long-form videos. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” remains the most famous of these, though I think David Bowie’s “Jazzin’ for Blue Jean” is easily the best. Anyway, “Goonies” fell into that category, as the ambitious piece ran a full 12 minutes, four seconds when both parts were combined.
I don’t know how often MTV ran the full program, but rest assured that the disc includes the entire two-part production. The video is a definite relic of its era, as we see a Cyndi-oriented story that echoes the plot of Goonies itself. She and her family run a gas station that may be taken over by nefarious elements, all played by pro wrestlers.
However, aided by the Goonies themselves, Cyndi discovers treasures, and along with a surprise guest at the end. In addition to the wrestlers, Steven Spielberg and all the Goonies kids except a mysteriously absent Kerri Green appear in this silly but entertaining clip. As for the song, it ain’t “Time After Time”, but it’s bouncy and catchy nonetheless.
In addition to the film’s theatrical trailer, a slew of non-disc-based materials come along here as well. First we find a board game for up to four players. Basically you use “movement cards” to collect dubloons and get your way out of the cave. I didn’t play the game, but it doesn’t look like something with a ton of “fun value”; it might be worth a try, but I wouldn’t expect much from it.
Two paper components arrive next. We find a reproduction of the 1985 Souvenir Magazine. In this 64-page piece, we get a lot of photos from the flick and text about the film. Though this maintains a fluffy tone, it still delivers a lot of interesting material; it’s probably the most useful of the package’s non-disc supplements.
Another reproduction gives us an Empire Magazine article. From 2009, this takes a “where are they now?” look at Goonies cast and crew that gathers all the participants from the commentary for a new chat. (Producer Spielberg shows up for the photo session but doesn’t chat about the flick.) Of course, we already know what happened to some of these folks, but this is still a nice update.
Finally, the set includes 10 Storyboard Cards. Five look at deleted scenes, while the other five examine sequences from the final flick. This information would be better served on the disc itself – mostly because we could then see a lot more storyboards – but this becomes a decent extra anyway.
I’ve only seen The Goonies twice since the mid-Eighties, and I must acknowledge that the movie hasn’t aged particularly well. It feels strongly like a piece from its time, but those dated aspects don’t overwhelm the fun and mildly exciting atmosphere that pervades the piece. It’s not on a par with the best action-adventure flicks, but it can be entertaining.
As for the Blu-ray, it comes with pros and cons. Audio sounds great, and we get a decent collection of supplements, though all of the disc-based components repeat from the 2001 DVD. Picture quality remains watchable but could be softer than expected. That was my main complaint with this release – along with the price. Goonies on Blu-ray currently comes only as part of an expensive package; all but the most devoted fans should wait for it to come out in a cheaper, disc-only version.