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MGM Studios DVD presents
A View to a Kill (1985)

Zorin: "You slept well?"
Bond: "A little restless, but I got off eventually."



Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: October 06, 2000

Stars: Roger Moore, Christopher Walken
Other Stars: Patrick Macnee, Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones
Director: John Glen

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for violence, innuendo
Run Time: 02h:10m:56s
Release Date: October 17, 2000
UPC: 027616853967
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBB+ B+

DVD Review

A View to A Kill was a turning point in the Bond series. It was the last film for both Roger Moore as Bond and Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, and it was one of the worst reviewed films in the series. For The Living Daylights, producers made a serious attempt to ground the film a bit, casting serious actor Timothy Dalton and focusing on a less-sensational plot. In retrospect, A View to A Kill is not nearly as bad as it was made out to be. I think the poor reviews were simply an effect of having a film series go on for 20 years—people were getting sick of the same old, same old.

This time, Bond (Roger Moore) is on the tail of Zorin (Christopher Walken), a megalomaniac bent on world domination. Why aren't megalomaniacs ever bent on creating a good recipe for tuna-noodle casserole or something? What's with all the murdering? Anyway, Zorin plans to control the world's computer market by destroying Silicone Valley with an engineered earthquake. Along the way he is helped by the creepy "East-German swimmer-ish" May Day (Grace Jones). It is up to Bond and geological "expert" Stacey Stutton (former Charlie's Angels star Tanya Roberts) to defeat Zorin and his compliment of henchgirls with funny haircuts and save the world.

The plot here is the usual Bond fare, but the stunt sequences are actually above par. The big highlight is of course the climax on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bluescreen effects were done very well, and I was surprised to learn that very little of it actually took place on the bridge. Also of note is May Day's leap from the Eiffel Tower and the subsequent chase across Paris. The parachuting stunts are very impressive, and the chase features some of the best stunt driving I have ever seen. Finally, there is a very cool sequence where Bond is hanging off the ladder of a moving fire engine that is rather unusual and very exciting. Action scenes are the backbone of the Bond films (well, all of them after Thunderball anyway), and A View to A Kill does not disappoint.

A big part of my enjoyment of the film was due to the villains. Christopher Walken sneers and overacts as Zorin, and he makes an excellent Bond baddie. I especially liked the scene where he giggles as he mows down his own henchmen. Nice guy. May Day also is a good addition to the film—Grace Jones is a very striking woman, and she gives real menace to the character. I actually enjoyed her scenes more than Walken's. Of course, it wouldn't be a Bond film without the Bond girl, and Tanya Roberts does the job this time around. In keeping with Bond tradition, she is rather flat and wooden, but she is very good at yelling, "James!" or "Oh - James!" She must have stayed up all night memorizing her lines.

Bond fans rip on this film all the time, and I don't see why. After I watched it again, I discovered that I actually prefer it to Octopussy which most seem to think is one of Moore's best. It certainly has a lot going for it. Zorin and May Day are great villains, the action sequences are cool, and Moore is Bond (I like Moore best, if you can't tell). There is relatively little of the corny humor that damaged the '70s Bonds, and very few off-the-wall gadgets that seemed to irritate Bond purists. The title song (by '80s um... "rockers" Duran Duran) is one of the best in the series. John Barry does another fine job with the score, integrating the title theme well throughout. I think it was definitely time for a new Bond to take over the role after this film, but A View to A Kill provides a fitting end to the Roger Moore era of Bond.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This transfer is decent, with some small problems. Color contrast is generally good, although colors seem a bit muted. Black level is good most of the time, but I did notice some night shots that looked a little soft. The only really bothersome problems are edge enhancement, and an awful lot of "shimmer" created on any straight corner (the cables on the Golden Gate Bridge, for example). Edge enhancement just really bothers me, so maybe it wouldn't seem as bad to others. Still, this is the best the film has looked, and it is certainly very watchable.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This disc has a newly created 5.1 mix, and it sounds quite good. LFE is generally good, and there is good separation between the left and right mains. Dialogue is always audible and clear (the problems with sound effects overpowering the dialogue that plague Octopussy are not present here). Surrounds are used well, and sound generally good for a remixed track. Nothing reference, but it adds to the film more than a simple 2.0 track would have.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English captions, Spanish and French subtitles with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
4 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Deleted Scenes
2 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director John Glen, members of the cast and crew
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single
Layers Switch: 01h:21m:02s

Extra Extras:
  1. Duran Duran video for A View to A Kill
Extras Review: Once again, MGM has provided fans of A View to A Kill with the usual bevy of high quality extras. This disc is basically a carbon copy of the other 14 Bond discs I own, but everything provided is interesting.

First up is the usual commentary, which is not screen-specific, but a group of edited together interviews that relate to the film and series as a whole, moderated by Bond "historian" David Naylor (I don't know if I'd advertise my OBSESSION with a movie that way: Hi, I'm Joel Cunningham, When Harry Met Sally historian). I haven't gotten around to listening to many of the other commentaries in the series (just working through all the extras on the discs was enough), but if they are all this interesting, I may try to fit them in. Many, many different cast and crew members contributed, and there are anecdotes aplenty. Naylor does much of the talking, but he offers some very interesting background information on everything from the story development to biographies of the crew members. A good listen for Bond fans.

Next up is the Inside A View to A Kill documentary. It follows the usual pattern, featuring interviews with basically everyone who was important to the film. Some interesting anecdotes are always related in these things, and I enjoy them as much as the films themselves. One note—this documentary is narrated by Rosemary Lord instead of Patrick Macnee, probably because he was in the film. The other documentary is called The Sound of Bond: The Music of 007. It covers the title songs and scores from all 19 of the Bond films. Interviews are included with John Barry, David Arnold, Bill Conti, Shirley Bassy, Nancy Sinatra, and others who contributed to the series' musical history. This is a very interesting piece, but because it only runs 21 minutes, just a few moments are spent on each film. Also, I was sad to see that Eric Serra was not included—his score for Goldeneye is one of my favorites.

In a first for the 007 Collection, A View to A Kill includes a deleted scene. It is presented in scratchy non-anamorphic widescreen and is rather short, but kind of funny and nice to have nonetheless. Then there are the usual trailers and TV spots. What was with trailers in the 80s? They all seem so boring. My favorite is the Duran Duran video for the title song. It features all the horrible parts of the 80s music and fashion scene in a convenient four-minute package (SEE the lead singer wearing more makeup than Grace Jones! SEE someone wearing dress slacks with tennis shoes!). "My name is Bon. Simon Le Bon." Anyway, other than the usual "collectible" booklet, that is about it for this disc. Once again, no still gallery is provided (I guess due to the inclusion of the deleted scene).

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

I don't know why this film is considered the worst in the series. It certainly doesn't add anything new, but there are some great stunt sequences and a cool pair of villains in May Day and Zorin. It doesn't belong in the top ten 007 films, but it is far from the worst. MGM has done a nice job with the disc, so it is a must for Bond collectors.

 


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