View to a Kill, A: Special Edition (1985)

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Released 21-Mar-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Bond Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Inside A View To A Kill (DD2.0, 4:3, 37:26 minutes)
Featurette-The Bond Sound-The Music Of James Bond (DD2.0, 4:3, 21:37)
Audio Commentary-John Glen (Director) et al
Music Video-A View To A Kill (DD2.0, 1.85:1, 4:31 minutes)
Deleted Scenes-The Paris Police Station (DD2.0, 2.35:1, 0:55 minutes)
Trailer-3 (DD2.0, 5:39 minutes)
TV Spots-4 (DD2.0, 4:3, 2:00 minutes)
Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 125:43
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Glen
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Roger Moore
Tanya Roberts
Grace Jones
Patrick McNee
Christopher Walken
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Polish
Greek
Hungarian
Hebrew
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    And now we come to the final chapter of the James Bond series to star Roger Moore. This is a significant milestone for me personally because all my earliest exposure to the character was via the Moore films - it was only later, via TV, that I became acquainted with Sean Connery's version. In the event, although the producers were able to send Roger off with a reasonable amount of style in A View To A Kill it seems to lack the exotic romance that set previous Bonds films apart. In fact, it was about this time that the whole Bond franchise entered its own "dark age" as it lost its way while other film makers had begun to discover the secrets of big budget action films. Thankfully this state of affairs has now well and truly passed.

    A View To A Kill begins in typical fashion with 007 in the snow fields of Siberia, searching for the body of one of his secret service colleagues and a microchip stolen from the KGB. This, of course, is a simple excuse for some great looking action scenes, and another chase to the death on skis. This one is notable because it is credited with giving a huge boost to the then fledgling sport of snow boarding.

    Back in London, we discover that the microchip Bond recovered from Siberia is identical to a highly secret chip being developed by the West. The only lead is to a secretive German industrialist named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). The only public activity he appears to indulge in is horse racing, and his success in that sport has already begun raising eyebrows. Enter Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee), former horse trainer and every bit the English gentleman, to assist Bond in his infiltration of Zorin's organization. After a visit to the races at Ascot, the action quickly moves to Paris and a characteristic Bond action set-piece that involves a gun fight on the Eiffel Tower, a sky dive off the Tower by Zorin's henchman (well henchwoman) Mayday (Grace Jones) and some fancy driving by Bond in a car that gradually breaks apart. There's no real point to it, but it's some of the best action in the film. Bond follows Zorin to the latter's magnificent palace and horse stables (actually built by an 18th century French Baron who was convinced that he would be reincarnated as a donkey, so the stables were built to be worthy of a Baron!). It wouldn't be a Bond film if there weren't lots of beautiful women, and the palace garden party allows plenty of scope for such sights in abundance. One of these beauties is the blonde Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) - it took me a couple of viewings to get over my old Charlie's Angels image of her as a brunette - but it's some time before we get to know her true role.

    This part of the film is, I think, the most elegant, helped along primarily by the beauty of the French locations and Patrick Macnee's wonderful character acting. Tibbet's demise at the hands of Mayday marks a certain change in the nature of the film, as Bond is allowed to go off on his own in search of action (and love). The story line begins to take real shape as we move to San Francisco (although keep an eye out at the 52 minute mark for Dolph Lundgren's screen debut as a KGB bodyguard). San Francisco is a great city to visit, but personally it leaves me a bit cold to see a Bond story based in so modern a city - it just doesn't seem to have that exotically romantic feel that is the essence of a James Bond epic. Nevertheless, we learn Zorin's master plan involves the destruction of Silicon Valley as a means of cornering the market in microchips. "Good!" I hear you cry - the real estate is overpriced anyway. From here on the film plays more like any number of pedestrian crime films - Bond follows a few leads, ends up in City Hall, follows the blonde back to her home, stays the night, etc. We get treated to City Hall burning down followed by a fire truck chase through the city streets that should have been left alone for other films to use. The plan to trigger an earthquake that inundates Silicon Valley is thwarted before the final action piece set high above San Francisco Bay and Bridge aboard one of Bondy's blimps is acted out.

    Roger Moore left his departure from the Bond franchise at least one film too late. His previous appearance in Octopussy was at least helped by a good story and strong casting. This one simply struggles to find its purpose. For me, it lacks warmth and true excitement. It took quite a few years and two new Bonds before the series found those qualities again. The last line of the credits says it all: "James Bond will return". The producers had yet to figure out when, how, why and under what title he'd return.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer suffers from slight softness that is simply symptomatic of the film's age. I never found it to be a problem, and to be sure, picture detail is always very clear. Shadow detail is very good without being up to the perfect levels of clarity of some of the more recent Bond films. Graininess is present throughout but at minor levels that never really become painful.

    As usual with the Bond film franchise, the DVD transfer reveals extremely realistic, though slightly less than fully saturated colours. Flesh tones are natural and the multitude of sights in the picture provide a wealth of colourful detail. There is little to complain about in the picture, a state of affairs that has happily become routine with Bond films.

    The single common blemish with this transfer is in the area of aliasing. Several Bond DVDs have suffered from this problem, probably due to the amount of material that is crammed onto the discs and the resultant strain on the compression rates. However, in this case the result is not too bad - the worst case can be seen at the 54 minute mark in a scene where venetian blinds cover much of the set walls and the whole screen explodes in interference patterns, but otherwise the effect is confined to smallish parts of the picture. There are the usual film artefacts present throughout but these will go unnoticed by the casual viewer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The single audio track is a very welcome 5.1 remix that is completely competent without blowing your socks off.

    Dialogue is spot on in clarity and sync. Everything sounds quite natural throughout. There were no clicks, pops or dropouts, and no distortion to comment on.

    I've never been a fan of the theme song for this Bond film - to my way of thinking the previous film marked the end of the truly romantic of the Bond songs - but John Barry has yet again been able to weave a very effective score around the basic theme.

    Surround speaker activity is again disappointing with this transfer. Although it is used very effectively for the racing scene at Ascot, with lots of crowd effects coming from all directions, very little else seems to come from it. This results in another reasonably heavy reliance on the front soundstage. Subwoofer use is similarly limited, with little or no support, even for the couple of large explosions that should rock the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Featurette - Inside A View To A Kill

    Presented in full frame (4:3) format and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 37:26 minutes. This is another of those featurettes that contain a mixture of interesting and not so interesting items. The overall effect is still more than worthwhile, and occupied my interest for a couple of viewings.

Featurette - The Bond Sound - The Music Of James Bond

    Presented in full frame (4:3) format and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 21:37 minutes. The theme songs of the Bond films have created their own remarkable category of modern cultural history. Taken singularly or together, they have been much loved for close to 40 years. Hence, this featurette could have been so much more valuable than it actually is. I was hoping for all sorts of details that would have made the process of creating the songs come alive. Instead it is little more than a very quick run through the Bond films and their associated songs. The many Bond anthology CDs do this far more effectively and completely.

Audio Commentary - John Glen (Director) et al

    The audio commentaries for Bond films have been hit and miss affairs. This one misses more than it hits unfortunately. Rather than the director discussing the film while he's watching it, it is simply a compilation of interviews and comments from various members of the cast and crew. In many cases the comments repeat those aired in the Making Of featurette, and in fact I think it would have been better had the commentary been done away with in preference to an expanded featurette.

Music Video - A View To A Kill

    Presented in widescreen format with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 4:31 minutes. Standard music video fare for fans of the band.

Deleted Scenes-The Paris Police Station

    Presented in widescreen format with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 0:55 minutes. Some humorous scenes that didn't add anything to the film and probably deserved to be deleted.

Trailers x 3

    Presented in and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 5:39 minutes. The theatrical release trailer comes in a very welcome 16x9 enhanced version, while the other two teasers are non-enhanced. The quality of the transfers are very good.

TV Spots x 4

    Presented in full frame (4:3) format and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Running time is 2:00 minutes.

Booklet

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 and R4 versions appear to offer identical features, so a local purchase is the way to go.

Summary

    Frankly, this Bond film has always left me cold, and the DVD edition does nothing to change that feeling. Perhaps it's the ageing Roger Moore, the rather ordinary villain, the lack of any substantial thrills or just a very ordinary story line. Technically the disc is up to the job, but probably only heavy duty Bond fans would bother parting with their cash for this one.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Sunday, April 01, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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