A View to a Kill 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. Only a few concerns emerged during this generally positive presentation.
Sharpness was satisfying most of the time. Wide shots suffered from some vague softness, but those instances failed to form tremendous distractions. The majority of the flick offered good delineation. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but a little light edge enhancement appeared. Source flaws never popped up here. The movie looked clean and fresh.
Colors looked good. Overall, they were appropriately developed, as the hues seemed distinctive and vivid. Blacks showed good depth and richness, while low-light shots seemed acceptably delineated. A few came across as a bit flat and muddy, but those instances didn’t dominate. This was a more than acceptable transfer that just narrowly fell short of “A”-level standards.
Next came the DVD’s two remixes. In addition to the flick’s original Dolby Surround 2.0 track, we got new Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 renditions. As usual, I found no differences between the two, as I thought they sounded virtually identical.
The soundfields presented a broad and engaging image throughout the film. The forward channels almost constantly enlivened the proceedings through action from all three speakers. The audio seemed accurately placed within the environment and the sound was very well-integrated.
Effects moved between channels neatly and smoothly. Those elements and music blasted from all three front speakers much of the time, and the surrounds kicked in a great deal of activity as well. Most of the rear audio seemed monaural, but a few useful examples of split-surround usage occurred. All in all, the soundfield appeared very engaging and active, and its depth added considerably to the effectiveness of the film.
Audio quality usually seemed very good, though it had one periodic flaw: distortion. A few too many effects displayed harsh and rough qualities. Most elements didn't have this problem, but a lot of them did; gunfire, squealing tires, explosions, and water rushing were the main culprits. Since these kinds of sounds appear fairly frequently - especially during the last act of the film – the distortion caused some unpleasant listening.
No, the distortion wasn't extreme, but it was significant enough for me to lower my audio grade from what would have been an "A-" to a "B+", since the rest of the track was very good. Dialogue sounded clear and distinct, with no problems related to intelligibility. Most effects seemed clean and realistic, and they also boasted some impressive depth. The score was bright and clear and it also displayed solid dynamics; the quality of the music was one of the highlights of the soundtrack. Overall, the mix worked well and was surprisingly effective, but some excessive distortion had a negative impact on my rating.
How did the picture and sound of this Ultimate Edition compare to those of the 2000 release? The audio seemed identical for both discs, but the picture was cleaner and fresher. The 2006 disc didn’t blow away the original, but it came as a step up in visual quality.
The Ultimate Edition of View mixes old extras with new components. I’ll mark the set’s exclusive elements with asterisks, so if you fail to see a star, you’ll only find the piece here.
On DVD One, we find two separate audio commentaries. Hosted by David Naylor, the first track comes from separate interviews and the clips are edited together into one coherent whole. On this commentary, we hear from director John Glen, actors Tanya Roberts, Carole Ashby, Patrick Macnee, David Yip, and Fiona Fullerton, co-producer/co-writer Michael G. Wilson, production designer Peter Lamont, associate producer Thomas Pevsner, second unit director Arthur Wooster, ski sequence director and photographer Willy Bogner, Jr., special effects supervisor John Richardson, production supervisor Anthony Waye, action sequences arranger Martin Grace, stuntman B.J. Worth, location manager Serge Touboul, and publicist Jerry Juroe.
This track resembles its other Bond siblings. It looks at sets and locations, cast and crew notes, stunts and action, effects, and other elements of the production. We get info about Ian Fleming’s original story and complications like the fire at the 007 stage. Plenty of solid material appears in this brisk and useful program.
For the second commentary, we hear from *actor Roger Moore. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the film – sort of. As with Moore’s other commentaries, he informs us he plans to digress often, and he does so. Moore discusses shooting in Paris and in San Francisco and he reflects on cast and crew. He also tosses out generally related stories about other parts of his career.
The other two Moore commentaries I’ve heard so far started slowly, but he proves chatty right off the bat for View. He seems into the process and gives us plenty of fine stories. I love the one in which he’s confused for Donald Rumsfeld (!) and adore his lack of false bravado. Moore doesn’t pretend that he did all his stunts, and he even tells a tale about how an incident left him mistrustful of guns.
Unfortunately, the track peters out during the third act. A fair amount of dead air occurs, and Moore starts to repeat stories from other Bond flicks; he talks about the case of the shingles that pained him during Spy Who Loved Me. Geez, Moore even resorts to a story about Goldfinger and that wasn’t his movie! There’s still enough charm and fun to make this a good commentary, but expect slow spots in the final third.
With that we shift to DVD Two. Declassified: MI6 Vault presents six elements. *Film ’85 BBC Report goes for four minutes, 36 seconds. It looks at the shoot of View with location materials and comments from Moore, Roberts, Glen, and actor Christopher Walken. Some of the footage from the set seems interesting, but the interviews add little.
An *Original Promotional Featurette fills seven minutes, 44 seconds. It presents notes from Moore, Wilson, Glen, Grace, Lamont and producer Cubby Broccoli. Decidedly promotional, a few minor nuggets of info pop up here, but most of the show just touts the flick’s supposed greatness.
Some cut material comes next. We get *The Streets of San Francisco – Deleted Footage (3:04), *Float Like a Butterfly – Test Footage (1:32), and four *Deleted Scenes. The last clips include “The Paris Police Station” (1:18), “Stacey Gets Fired” (1:58), “Protesting Zorin” (2:24), and “Zorin and Crew Pull Up to City Hall” (0:45). The first two segments come with narration from Glen. “Streets” shows raw stunt material, while “Float” shows us practice shots of that sequence. Both are intriguing.
As for the deleted scenes, they provide intros from Glen as he tells us why they got the boot. “Police” offers comedy too broad even for a flick as goofy as View, and “Fired” shows Stacey’s opposition to Zorin – and Roberts’ terrible acting. Moore’s tag line amuses, at least. “Protesting” displays dull shots of anti-Zorin folks, while “Hall” just presents a simple lead-in to the fire sequence.
We also find three *Alternate and Expanded Angles. These come for “The Eiffel Tower” (one option, 3:08), “The Drawbridge” (2 options, 1:31) and “Bond Rescues Stacey” (2 options, 1:53). All offer fun material as they let us check out various portions of the shoot. Glen’s introduction nicely sets up the material.
With that we head to the *007 Mission Control Interactive Guide. This splits into components under seven different headings: “007”, “Women”, “Allies”, “Villains”, “Mission Combat Manual”, “Q Branch”, and “Exotic Locations”. An odd form of “greatest hits”, this simply presents a few selected scenes that match the topics.
One of the only interesting elements comes from the presentation of the opening credits without text (3:23). “Locations” (4:27) also gives us a narrated set of clips. Maud Adams chats over the scenes and tells us about the locations. That makes it more useful than the others since they just show snippets from the final film. The rest of the set is a waste of time.
Heading to Mission Dossier, we begin with Inside A View to a Kill. This 37-minute and 24-second program is hosted by Rosemary Lord; it's one of the few not shepherded by Patrick Macnee, probably due to his role in the film and participation in this show as an interviewee. It's another solid "making of" documentary that focuses mainly on the effects and stunts, probably because there's not a whole lot else to discuss in regard to View. As usual, some subjects are repeated from the audio commentary, but the program takes a different viewpoint and expands on the topics nicely.
We get the typical mix of contemporary interviews with the usual suspects such as Glen, Moore, Roberts, Macnee, Broccoli, Lamont, Waye, Juroe, Richardson, Pevsner, Bogner, Worth, Touboul, Grace, Wooster, Fullerton, Yip, Adams, co-writer Richard Maibaum, sky diver Don Caltvedt, stuntman Richard Graydon and special effects technician Chris Corbould. We also find 1985 soundbites from Grace Jones, production photos and footage from the set.
The latter are the best part of the program since they show some very interesting material, such as raw shots of some stunts. We also get a nice discussion from Moore of his decision to leave the Bond series; this is followed by a minor retrospective that covers his years in the role. My only complaint about the documentary - and the commentary, for that matter - regards the absence of participation from Christopher Walken. I'd assume the producers of the supplements sought his involvement and he declined, but I still miss him; I would have loved to hear from him about it. Oh well - even without Walken, the program provides a nice look at the movie.
The second documentary is called The Bond Sound: The Music of 007. Hosted by Patrick Macnee, this show lasts 21 minutes, 37 seconds. We get a solid overview of the scores and title songs for the films in the series, with comments from most of the composers - such as John Barry, Monty Norman, Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Conti, Michael Kamen and David Arnold - and some of the performers. Interviews with Shirley Bassey, Nancy Sinatra, Carly Simon, Sheena Easton, Duran Duran's Simon LeBon appear as well. (No Paul McCartney, unfortunately.)
This program seems somewhat superficial as it rapidly careens from film to film, but it nonetheless gives us a pretty useful examination of the music heard in the Bond series. It's especially valuable to hear the various composers discuss their perspectives on the series and explain why they scored the movies as they did. It's a nice look at an important reason for the success of the Bond franchise.
Happily, the DVD features the four and a half minute music video for Duran Duran's terrific title song. Their "A View to a Kill" remains my second-favorite Bond tune after McCartney's "Live and Let Die", and the video offers a silly but fun variation on the usual lip-synch/film clip combination. The film shots are nicely cut in with the band bits to create a mini-movie typical of those from the era. I can't call it a great video by any stretch of the imagination, but it's well above average for a video for a film tune; most of those pieces are genuinely bad, and this one seems much more entertaining than most. Too bad we don't get the classic Duran Duran performance of the song during Live Aid. The band put on a pretty lousy show, and LeBon's voice breaks badly during one chorus. I always liked DD - they're actually a very good live act - but I get cruel amusement from this vocal error.
We also find some promotional materials on this DVD. There are three
trailers: the US theatrical clip plus the US teaser and the UK teaser. The disc provides four TV spots as well. All of these ads do their job nicely: they make View look like a much better movie than it actually is.
In the Image Database, we find some *photo galleries. These use 13 subdomains, each of which includes between one and 18 shots. That gives us a total of 88 pictures. Nothing scintillating appears, but we discover some decent images.
Finally, we get a nice eight-page booklet. This adds a few useful notes and ends the package on a high note.
A View to a Kill offers a pleasing package. The movie itself is weak Bond and can arguably be considered the worst 007 film to date, but even poor Bond still remains moderately fun and entertaining. The DVD provides very good picture and audio along with a quality roster of extras. This is a strong DVD for a weak movie.
How about those aficionados who already own the original View DVD – should they snag the “Ultimate Edition”? I’d recommend it, but not intensely. The UE offers improved visuals plus a smattering of useful new extras. It’s a decent upgrade but not one of the series’ “slam dunk” improvements.
Note that this “Ultimate Edition” of A View to a Kill can be purchased only as part of “The Ultimate James Bond Collection Volume Two”. This five-movie set also includes Thunderball, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day, and The Spy Who Loved Me.