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. An erratic picture, I noticed too many flaws to make this a terribly strong transfer.
Sharpness usually seemed acceptably crisp and well-defined, though I noted more softness than I might have expected. Wide shots and some scenes with Moore showed weaker delineation than I’d like. Much of the movie was distinctive and tight, but more than a few exceptions marred the presentation to a small degree. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but some noticeable edge enhancement created distractions, and source flaws also offered concerns. I detected sporadic instances of specks, marks and blotches. These weren’t sever, but they showed up with some regularity.
Colors looked decent to good. Some interiors made the hues a bit pale and flat, but other scenes offered more dynamic tones. Overall, they were appropriately developed. 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 but not a particularly strong one.
Next came the more successful Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of A View to a Kill. The soundfield presented a very 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.
The usual array of extras can be found here, starting with an audio commentary. Hosted by David Naylor, this 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.
As with most of the Bond DVDs, View contains two separate video
programs. First up is the standard general "making of" piece. Called
Inside A View to a Kill, this 37-minute and 15-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 (cast, crew), 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
The second documentary is called The Bond Sound: The Music of 007. Hosted by Patrick Macnee, this show lasts 21 and a half minutes. 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.
One deleted scene appears on the DVD. Called "The Jailhouse", this minute-long clip shows Bond's release from the hoosegow in France. Although it's nothing mind-blowing, it's a surprisingly fun little bit.
Happily, the DVD features the five 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.
Finally, we get a nice eight-page booklet. This adds a few useful notes and ends the package on a high note.
This release doesn't include the photo gallery I'd usually expect from Bond DVDs. These were a minor addition but frequently offered some interesting photos, and I must admit I missed them. Perhaps the DVD producers figured the deleted scene View compensated for the missing stills.
Even without those pictures, 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 generally decent picture and solid sound plus some fine extras.
For those on a budget who can't acquire all of the Bond DVDs, I'd recommend almost any of the others; A View to a Kill isn't top-notch 007. However, I'm very pleased to have the whole series on DVD, and if you're like-minded, there's no reason not to pursue a copy of this film.
To rate this film visit the Ultimate Edition review of A VIEW TO A KILL