Goldfinger - Bond 50 Box Set Blu-ray Review
As with the previous Bond restorations and their evolution to Blu-ray, Goldfinger looks astonishing.
It's 1.66:1 aspect intact and AVC encode keeping rogue DNR levels down to a minimum, Connery's third outing bursts with colour and detail. Auric tells us how much he loves the colour of gold - and, with this transfer, it is very easy to agree with him. The image feels warm and its burnished commodity, on show often, positively gleams. I guarantee that you won't have seen Shirley Eaton's lacquered body look quite so ravishing as it does here - that golden sheen is marvellously reproduced.
Colours are rich and bold elsewhere, too. Look at the red of the smelting-pot in Auric's plant as the Rolls is being melted back into liquid gold, and look at that awesome exploding car that tumbles down the hill in a raging ball of flame. Oranges, reds, yellows and pinks positively blossom with incendiary delight. The aerial view of Miami near the start is a terrifically vibrant introduction to the tighter, warmer, more resplendent image that is on offer with this release. The sheen on Auric's Rolls and the greens around his Stud farm, as well as on the fatigues of the soldiers who all drop like flies when Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus swoops overhead - all revealing a saturation and hue that is, at times, more realistic and, at others, stylistically exaggerated. Black levels are fine, too. Interiors boast very decent shadow - particularly in Bond's cell and Goldfinger's palatial lounge once the lights go out. But it is very reassuring to see that during the laser-torture sequence, which has often been horribly dark, the shadows are stable and inky, yet do not appear to lose any of the detail that previous versions did - and the laser looks fantastic in contrast to this.
A thin veil of grain is ever-present, and visual depth is great, albeit compromised in certain scenes by the over-abundance of matte-shots and edge enhancement, which although still there, is less of an issue than it once was. Haloing is nowhere near as distracting as it was previously.
Detail is excellent. Faces have a greater degree of texture than before, as does the material of clothing and close-up views of gadgets, dashboards, metal tables with red-lasers burning through them, maps and models and roads littered with unconscious soldiers. Look at the grass on the golf course for a clear example of how much more delineated this hi-def image is. Hair and straw also seem to offer more separation than before. Backgrounds are more stable and slightly clearer, too, with the forested hills behind Goldfinger's Swiss plant and the trees around the golf course standing a little prouder now.
The print is good shape, too, although that little frame jump when Oddjob turns the corner in the Lincoln Continental is still there for all to see. Thus, Goldfinger gets a major thumbs-up from me. The film looks incredible - it is full of colour, clarity and a liveliness that the SD Ultimate Edition hinted-at but couldn't present with anywhere near as much confidence. A very strong 8 out of 10.
This US disc of Goldfinger that I reviewed previously came equipped with its original mono track as well as the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that is now fitted as standard. But the release found in this UK box set ditches the original mono.
The lossless surround mix sounds clean and sharp and detailed. Gunshots echo and have a gut-punching power to them that is certainly still unmistakably “of-the-period” but enhanced with greater presence. The wonderful click-clacking of shoes on the metal floors of the vault is crisp and dialogue is never drowned-out, sunken, lost or overly brightened. The audio level for the track is consistent throughout, with no hiss or damage, and no dislocation or drops in volume.
There is even some reasonable surround activity. We have planes wheeling about the sky and their engines moving accurately around the sound-design. Cars also provide some oomph at times from various places around the set-up, with the Alpine mucking-about between Bond and Tilly and the later rampage around Auric's metallurgical installation packing some guttural revs and squealing tyres that certainly sound more dynamic than they do on the mono track. Gunshots, as I have mentioned, have a nice echo, too. I like the Thunk! Thunk! that the bullets make as they slam into the DB5's door as 007 hides behind it. Machine-gunfire has more meat to it, as well, though it is still very effectively shrill in the mono mix. The laser-beam that edges ever closer to Bond's “licensed to thrill” bits has a wonderfully keen hum to it in the lossless mix that sounds truly electrifying. The sweep of Oddjob's hat across the front is noticeable, but it is the actual impact - that innocent statue getting decapitated and wild Clang! that his hat makes when it hits the steel bars - that will possibly please the most. The vicious swish that it makes as it travels towards a fleeing Tilly is also more rewarding in the DTS-MA track. Other notable instances of enjoyable raucousness have to include the car going over the edge of the cliff and exploding on the way down and, my favourite, the deep metallic impact of Kisch when he lands rather painfully on the steel floor of the vault.
Separation is fine across the front and there is a degree of spatial depth to the mix, but this still isn't a design that places much demand on wraparound immersion other than in a couple of the more elaborate sequences. But what the lossless 5.1 mix does manage to do is inject vitality and aggression into the film. John Barry's score naturally benefits from the greater volume, orchestral and vocal timbres and the sheer warmth of its instrumentation.
As with the previous BD release, and most annoyingly, the remixed track drops at least one sound effect in its newer guise. At the very end of the pre-titles sequence, when Bond leaves the room to an electrocuted goon and a babe rubbing the lump on the back of her head, the audible clunk as he shuts the door is omitted. This is a lot more obvious than you think, for, as evidenced by the original mono track, that clunk becomes the stepping stone to the terrific “Bammmm - Bamm ... dah-dahhh-dahhhhhh!!!!” of Barry's seminal title track. Purists can rest assured that this is still fully intact in the mono track on the region A disc. But since the UK release only has the lossless audio option, this is something of a shame. Another thing about this is that there could well be more little glitches or omissions due to the remix that I haven't yet noticed. But, then again, even with this in mind, I do still prefer the DTS-HD MA track, if only because it packs a bit more of a punch.
Right, now pay attention, 007. This Blu-ray disc comes equipped with the usual extras that are now being issued in the field.
We have weighty commentary tracks - a vast-ranging and participant-filled one that has been culled from many archived documentaries, and a solo effort from Guy Hamilton. Both are splendidly anecdote-stuffed and packed with detail about the production, the shooting, the characters and the actors who bring them to life, the score, the stunts and the transition from book to screen and, naturally, the cultural impact of the third Bond movie. I enjoyed both, though, understandably, there is much overlap - something that inevitably plagues the featurettes and documentaries, too. But this is how all the Bond discs shape up and everything just about engulfs you in good-natured nostalgia - so there is little to complain about with such exhaustive material.
The Making Of Goldfinger is a familiar 26-minute look at how the creative team sought to meet public expectations of a new Bond adventure, what the challenges were with regards to vehicles, stunts, risqué names, laser-beams, villains who couldn't speak a word of English, title songs and production design. The usual roster of faces crop up - Hamilton, Connery, Blackman, Maibaum, Llewellyn, Stears, Adams etc - and there is plenty of on-set footage, promotional fooling-around, casting auditions and tongue-in-cheek praise and admiration. I'm sure that most of you reading this have already seen these features before - you know the style and it is a winning one.
The Goldfinger Phenomenon runs for a further 29-minutes and takes a wider view of the film and its cultural and commercial impact. There is still some typical overlap, but this is another solid look at the classic with some great reminiscences from the likes of Blackman, who revelled in embarrassing journalists and interviewers by saying “Pussy” as often as she could. Vintage newsreel footage and photos add to the all-round fun of the feature and there is a great look at the merchandising that took off in the wake of the film's unparalleled success. Another fine documentary, folks, that, together with the Making Of provide the backbone of the extra features. Both are narrated by Patrick Macnee
On Tour With The Aston Martin lasts for 12-minutes - and who wouldn't want much longer in that baby! - as the history of the car and its iconic celebrity status is chronicled. There is vintage footage - some glorious old ad-campaigns - and we see the esteem in which the legendary vehicle is held, with its regular fawn-fests around the exhibition and collector's circuits.
Vintage Material gathers together some old screen-tests for Theodore Bikel and Tito Vandis, who auditioned for Goldfinger, a short Bond promo from 1963 and the Honor Blackman Open-Ended Interview which looks quite poor and was used by TV networks as promo material for the movie.
The Image Database houses the requisite galleries of behind-the-scenes, promotional stills, set designs and poster-art that we have come to expect. But you will have to set some serious time aside to go through it all. To compliment this, we also have original TV and Radio Spots, the theatrical trailer, and an audio interview with Sean Connery about the imminent arrival of the movie.
The disc also has that rather cack 007 Mission Control Interactive Guide option that, on the menu, seems to offer yet more featurettes but, in reality, is nothing more a themed chapter selection.
Basically, you get all the same stuff that gave you that warm, fuzzy completist's glow from the previous SD Ultimate Edition - and that, on balance, should be good enough for anyone.
Goldfinger is a class act, through and through. If you are like me, then you've bought probably every version of it that has been released. And, also like me, you are going to have to do it all over again because the digital facelift that the film has received is worth every penny. The film has stood the test of time, existing in a bubble of infinite cool that makes it enjoyable, dynamic, engrossing and downright vital for each new generation. Its own inherent repeatability is beyond reproach - you certainly couldn't return again and again to the likes of Tomorrow Never Dies, Octopussy or A View To A Kill with as much passion, could you? So, like a comfy old slipper, Goldfinger wraps around you with eager-to-please satisfaction and, although it is not a movie about which you can say you see something new each time, its big moments still deliver a frisson, its ribald dialogue still raises an eyebrow and its totally unabashed sense of entertainment is without equal.
The quality of its 1080p transfer is definitely worth the upgrade. The opening Miami flyover should be enough to prove that and the image sits very comfortably alongside both Dr. No and From Russia With Love. Audio-wise, there is that slight glitch causing consternation, but, beyond that, I was pleased with the lossless mix. Although I am a little peeved that the original mono track has not been preserved on this edition as well. The commentaries and the two full documentaries are required material, even if the vintage stuff, as charming as it is, doesn't stand up to repeated viewing. But, all in all, this is another clear winner for old school Bond and takes pride of place within this luxurious box set issued from Q Branch.
With its classic status as gleaming as Auric’s bullion, Goldfinger remains absolutely awesome entertainment.
Bond at his best.
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