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MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Glen
Cast:
Roger Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Bauchau, David Yip, Fiona Fullerton, Manning Redwood, Alison Doody
Writing Credits:
Ian Fleming (story), Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson

Tagline:
Adventure Above And Beyond All Other Bonds.

Synopsis:
Roger Moore makes his the final appearance as the Secret Service Agent, James Bond in A View To A Kill.

Her Majesty's Secret Service sends Bond to stop Madcap computer industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) from triggering a massive earthquake in Silicon Valley and annihilating the global computer market. With the help of geoligist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), Bond must contend with May Day (Grace Jones) and Zorin's endless supply of henchmen as he jet sets from Paris to San Francisco leaving a trail of empty martini glasses and broken Q-gadgets behind him.

In the 14th installment of the 007 series, director John Glen delivers an unforgettable and dazzling farewell vehicle for actor Roger Moore. Packed full of sex pot debutantes, whizz bang gadgetry and cliffhanger action sequences, A View To A Kill is an unforgettable roller coaster ride.

Box Office:
Budget
$30 million.
Domestic Gross
$50.327 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

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

Runtime: 131 min.
Price: $89.98
Release Date: 11/7/2006

Bonus:
DVD One
• Audio Commentary with 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
• Audio Commentary with Actor Roger Moore
DVD Two
• “Film ’85 BBC Report”
• Original Promotional Featurette
• Deleted and Test Footage
• Alternate and Expanded Angle Scenes
• 007 Mission Dossier Interactive Guide
• "Inside A View to a Kill" Documentary
• “The Bond Sound: The Music of 007” Documentary
• Music Video
• Four Deleted Scenes
• Still Galleries
• Trailers and TV Spots
• Booklet


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RELATED REVIEWS


A View To A Kill: Ultimate Edition (1985)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 6, 2006)

Technically, A View to a Kill was the first Bond film to debut after I became an adult, as it hit American screens a mere 12 days after my 18th birthday. However, I say "technically" because some continue to question my maturity. According to these nay-sayers, even more than 20 years after I reached the age of majority, my actual maturity level remains in single digits.

One person whose age couldn't be questioned was Roger Moore. View marked his seventh appearance as 007 and he was 57 years old at the time of its release. That's awfully long in the tooth for a character who's supposed to be in his thirties, and although Moore clearly looked much more youthful than his age would indicate, he certainly left his thirties far behind him.

A View to a Kill marked the end of an era because it finally concluded Moore's time as Bond, and it also was the final occasion on which Lois Maxwell would play Moneypenny. Frankly, her presence was one of the few things that made Moore's advancing age more acceptable. Since the two were born within a year of each other, at least Moneypenny allowed for some age-appropriate flirting.

Moore's cinematic dalliances with actresses easily young enough to be his daughter weren't as attractive. I wish I could say the implausibility of a pairing between Moore and then-29 year old Tanya Roberts is the worst aspect of View, but unfortunately, the movie has enough flaws to make that romance a negligible problem.

To a large degree, View remakes 1964's Goldfinger, and that's a bad start. I state this not because Goldfinger was a poor work but rather because it's a classic; Goldfinger is arguably the best Bond film of all. If one wants to steal from such a notable source, one should make sure this is done effectively, but such measures were not taken during the making of View.

Although it offered a comic tone, Goldfinger was anchored by the solid presence of Sean Connery as Bond; he made sure that things never became too goofy or silly during that movie. Not only did View use Moore - who had always been a much lighter and less-intimidating Bond than Connery - but it found Moore at his jokiest. He makes few attempts to ground the story and it becomes absolutely inane at times.

View also suffers from one of the worst Bond girls ever. Roberts was certainly an attractive woman, but she couldn't act her way out of the proverbial paper hat, and since her character of Stacey Sutton was weak to start, the situation was not promising. Although View parallels Goldfinger in many ways, whenever I saw Roberts I always though of 1999's The World Is Not Enough because her work so strongly resembles that of Denise Richards in the later film. Both actresses are sexy but present bland and mechanical personalities. Both of their characters are supposed to be technical experts, and the actresses are absolutely unbelievable as they attempt to spout the requisite lingo.

At least Richards showed a little spunk at times, but Roberts is an absolute dud. She limps across the screen and has virtually nothing to do other than be rescued by 007. It's a poor role that is ineffectively portrayed. Geez, they couldn't even come up with a provocative name for her character - "Stacey Sutton" stands as arguably the dullest appellation for a Bond female lead.

As the other main Bond girl, we get exotic oddity Grace Jones as May Day, main villain Zorin's (Christopher Walken) lover/henchbabe. Jones also can't act, but her intimidating presence is pretty much enough to get across her message. Unfortunately, I have the feeling her dalliance with Bond inspired more groans than cheers. Jones is a striking woman but her muscular, androgynous appearance turns off many.

Walken provides a slight positive as Zorin. The character's not very stimulating, as he doesn't seem very powerful or frightening; Zorin's certainly no competition for Goldfinger himself. However, Walken at least plays the role in an appropriately understated but typically quirky manner that makes him consistently interesting. Walken can't quite rise above the flaws of the character, but he remains an inherently compelling actor.

Interesting footnote: according to Steven Jay Rubin's The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia, David Bowie was also considered for the role of Zorin. Although Walken was fun in the part, I wish Bowie had gotten it. For one, the character suits him, and since Bowie's The Man, it would have made me much more interested in the film. For a certified Bowie-fanatic like myself, the prospect of watching the Thin White Duke bump heads with Bond would be one to relish. Que sera sera!

I believe the film offers relics of Bowie’s proposed casting. Zorin sure looks like Bowie circa the early 80s, and the character makes more sense when played by a Brit instead of an American.

View features the usual array of outlandish stunts, but even these are undermined by the goofiness of the outing. The opening ski chase is marred by the abrupt inclusion of a snippet from the Beach Boys' "California Girls". This interruption is nearly as jarring and distracting as the stupid penny whistle heard during the car jump in The Man With the Golden Gun. Later silliness involves such feats as a Renault taxi that gets cut in half but keeps driving. It's all cute but annoying and it undermines the film.

One of the movie's few real positives comes from the delightful interaction of Moore and longtime friend Patrick Macnee as equine expert Sir Godfrey Tibbett. Their affection for each other seems clear as Bond playfully derides his cohort in the film. Their moments together seem all-too-brief and add much-needed spark to this fairly lifeless effort.

I've always said that even weak Bond is better than most other action films, and I still feel that way. Despite all of its flaws, I found parts of A View to a Kill to be entertaining and enjoyable. However, it stands as one of the worst Bond movies of all. Only Moonraker falls below it on my scale, and even that ranking is arguable. I'd place View above 1979's ridiculous space-clunker just because I liked Walken and Macnee, but both films are comparably limp.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus A-

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.2058 Stars Number of Votes: 34
135:
24:
6 3:
52:
81:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main