US/1995/Color/Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35, P&S or Letterbox/DD 5:1/130
minutes/Directed by Martin Campbell/Starring Pierce Brosnan, Famke Janssen/49
GoldenEye is a stellar example of the visual virtues of DVD. It is
also a disc symptomatic of the problems encountered by new technologies. An audio problem
in the discs ability to deliver the Dolby Digital 5:1 soundtrack is both a mystery
and a major disappointment. GoldenEye, pressed in Japan by MGM, is the only disc I have
thus far encountered that provides an introductory menu with a choice for Dolby Digital 2
channel or 5:1. Despite selecting the 5:1 numerous times and in various ways, the
GoldenEye DVD plays back as 2 channel matrix sound through my Toshiba 3006 player and
Lexicon DC-1 surround processor. I have confirmed reports that the DVD plays perfectly on
the new Sony player and the RCA player as well.. Is it the player? Is it the disc? Is it a
combination of the two? In the meantime, dont be surprised if more surprises, both
positive and negative, are in store for us from this exciting video medium. Comparing the
terrific soundtrack from the laser discs 5:1 tracks reveals a major difference in
the openness and directionality of the sound.
The first half of GoldenEye is vintage Bond, ranking with the very
best films in the series. The plotting is reasonable, the pacing excellent, the action
scintillating and the characterizations on the money. Like many films these days, the
set-up provides the best scripted cinematic moments. With the introduction of 006 as the
villain, GoldenEye turns to the chase and ironically loses steam.
The casting of Goldeneye is a key ingredient to its success. Pierce
Brosnan is the only Connery successor that captures some of the sophistication and charm
that the originator of Bond on screen exuded. Brosnan may fall short slightly in the sense
of danger woven into Connerys Bond, but he is consistently credible. Famke Janssen
as Onatopp is a great combination of Bond girl and henchman. The sense of
enjoyment in her performance is infectious. I hope some enterprising director recognizes
her potential. In the recent City of Industry, opposite Harvey Keitel, Janssen had a small
and mostly wasted presence. She needs something to sink her teeth into. Sean Bean is solid
if dour as Bonds nemesis and Alan Cummings as Boris perhaps crosses the line from
light humor into parody.
It would be criminal not to mention the fabulous credits sequence
with GoldenEye sung by Tina Turner. Imaginatively designed and stunningly filmed, this is
the best credit sequence in memory. The visual and sonic qualities are breathtaking.
Lets get to the quality of this picture. I found it nothing
short of astounding. The richness in color blew me away. The detail is spectacular and
image is consistently film-like(When film is well projected, that is). The laser version
of Goldeneye is a terrific disc, but in direct comparisons the virtues of DVD stands out.
A rock, steady image is a hallmark of the DVD. Straight edges dont jump on the DVD
as on the laser(A by-product of the use of component output processing in the DVD