A View to a Kill hits Blu-ray as part of the Bond 50 Box Set with another restoration courtesy of Lowry, who have actually done a very good job here. Presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen, the 1080p High Definition video rendition is really quite impressive, boasting strong clarity, authentic colours, decent blacks and a largely intact grain structure. The comparative minority of fans that the film has will surely not be disappointed.
Detail has been vastly improved from the Ultimate Edition DVD predecessor, with noteworthy fine object detail; skin textures and clothing weaves becoming infinitely more discernible; and background nuances coming to light. The image boasts grain in the form of the aforementioned original grain structure, and consequently does not reveal any significant adverse DNR application; no overt edge enhancement and also no print damage or other digital defects.
The colour scheme is of a more realistic nature, nominally because of the more subdued sets and down-to-earth plot. There are still some vibrant reds and deep blues on offers – the final flight showcases many of these – but this is definitely not a more classically-stylised entry in the Bond canon, with the colour scheme consequently reflecting this constraint. Black levels are strong and allows for decent shadowing and impressive night sequences and, overall, this is a pretty decent job from Lowry restoration – not demo quality, but very good nonetheless.
On the aural front, the remixed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also marks a welcome upgrade, providing an engaging accompaniment right from the action-dominated pre-credits sequence and the superb title track through to the intense, climactic finale. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, well-balanced across the frontal array. Effects range from the whirring engines of the airship to the percussive thunder of galloping horses, with a few nice explosions and one blazing inferno to further spice things up. Gunshots ring out convincingly across the array, street and traffic noises help craft some keen atmospherics, and several sequences prove warmly immersive – whether it’s the racetrack hubbub or the fiery rescue and ensuing police chase through the streets of San Francisco – with both the surrounds and the rears coming into play. The score – largely based around Duran Duran’s opening title track – enhances but never engulfs the rest of the elements and the LFE channel also provides a welcome accompaniment, undercutting the mix with some sporadically potent bass.
This new Bond 50 Box Set comes complete with all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras ported over (as well as some new material on a further disc in the set). Far from bad news, the old UE releases pretty-much offered up definitive background material for each title, and A View to a Kill, whilst not necessarily one of the best-loved entries, certainly has a set of extras which would say otherwise.
Sporting two solid Commentaries, we also have a number of informative background Featurettes and Documentaries, some welcome Deleted Footage, and a hefty amount of promotional material too. Fans of the film will no doubt know all about these offerings; newcomers couldn’t want for more.
Commentary by Sir Roger Moore – the last film from Moore means, unfortunately, the last track from the man; but it’s a good one to go out on, with him being his usual understated, self-depreciating self and offering up some honest and frank opinions into why this was his least favourite Bond outing.
Commentary by Director John Glen – another group effort from the director as well as some of his cast and crew members.
Declassified: MI6 Vault
Film ’85 BBC Report – a 5 minute Featurette shot on location, with brief interviews from Roger Moore (looking younger than he did in the film itself!) and Christopher Walken.
Original Promotional Featurette – an 8-minute offering, again vintage, which is far more promotional than informative, intersplicing brief interview snippets and scant few behind the scenes shots with clips from the final film.
The Streets of San Francisco – Deleted Footage – offers up 3 minutes of footage shot by the second unit for the fire truck chase.
Float Like a Butterfly – Test Footage – just 90 seconds of test shots for the Eiffel Tower butterfly assassination set-up.
Deleted Scenes – four extra scenes, all introduced by director John Glen. The spontaneously combusting ink would have been a nice touch were it not for the slapstick singed-eyebrows moment; and overall it’s easy to see why these bits were removed, but nice to have the option to watch them here.
Alternate and Expanded Angle Scenes – offers us a different look at three scenes, again introduced by director John Glen. Although not wildly different, it’s worth taking a look at – particularly the fire ladder sequence, where the footage here arguably does a better job at putting Moore into the scene than the final cut shots did.
Inside A View to a Kill: An Original Documentary – this hefty 37-minute documentary looks behind the scenes at the production of the movie, and offers up a nice amount of detail, as well as plenty of interview segments and behind the scenes clips.
The Bond Sound – The Music of James Bond – is a 22-minute retrospective appreciation of the work done on the series by regular Bond composer John Barry.
Music Video by Duran Duran – here we get the engaging 5-minute title song, showcasing a music video which involves elements from the film, not just in clip form but also in staging.
Ministry of Propaganda
Theatrical Archive – showcases some Trailers.
TV Broadcasts – has some TV Spots.
Image Database rounds out the disc.
“From the drag to the chase. From the chase to the view. From the view to a death in the morning...”
Whilst Roger Moore might have felt that it was an all-time low for him, and many Bond fans feel exactly the same way, I think that A View to a Kill is a surprisingly underrated little Bond entry, exceptional only for Christopher Walken’s infectiously psychotic villain, but entertaining nonetheless for its impressive real stunts and set-pieces shot in some unusually mainstream locations. It feels fresher than it should; Moore seems fitter than he should; the story is more serious than many give it credit for; and it was arguably a more satisfying climax to Moore’s 12-year tenure in the role than the previous entry, Octopussy. I found it a surprisingly fun Bond chapter to revisit – perhaps partly because it’s one of those Bonds you are least likely to pick up and put on out of choice – and so it feels less familiar – or perhaps because, against all odds, it does actually provide quite a refreshingly different chapter in the Bond cycle. Either way, there’s a great deal that often goes overlooked in this 1985 entry.
As part of the Bond 50 set, A View to a Kill comes with impressive video and audio presentations which mark a considerable step up from DVD and certainly showcase the film better than it has ever looked before. Fans will also be pleased that all of the old Ultimate Edition DVD extras have been ported over here.
Bond has been served well by a phenomenal box-set, timed to coincide with the arrival of Skyfall and the 50th Anniversary of the franchise. A View to a Kill forms part of the set along with the other twenty-two films in the series, the majority of which look and sound terrific, and contain a wealth of extra material as well as a separate and new disc full of extra features further examining our favourite super-spy. It comes with the highest recommendation.
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