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Honestly, I never knew that The Goonies even existed until I received this DVD, so this is actually my first outing with this feature.  I found out though that this title was in the Top 10 DVD wishlist from its cult fan-base in America.  Since I was roughly a teenager at the time this was made, my first impressions are based on what I would have felt about it back then ... which is pure fun & fantasy on a scale that kids of all ages can relate to.  It's the kind of film where (to enjoy it to the full) you'd need a fair amount of childhood innocence and wonder to suspend the disbelief of the obviously over-extravagant set-pieces.  This movie was intentionally created to give you that "way over the top" experience of the cinema.

Goonies, The
Oddly enough this was like taking a trip back in nostalgia, which usually means that you're seeing this for at least a second time :-).  I do remember in the previous year when Ghostbusters made its headway in Oz with the tons of merchandising and that bloody theme song on the radio, that its success relied purely on its charm and fun-factor.  However, had these kind of movies been given the greenlight in today's studio system, they would no doubt be afforded much less of a budget and be heading straight for video to fill up the shelves at your local rental store.  Also, the liberties taken with the language and depreciating humour at the expense of people less ... uh, pretty ... than themselves would have been so sanitised to the point of ... well, boredom.

Written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Richard Donner, this film is a showcase of great individual talent which offers a heap of endless variety that doesn't get boring in a hurry.  The director of this movie (Richard Donner) became much more famous for his follow-up projects, namely the Lethal Weapon series and The Lost Boys.  Did you know that he also directed a few episodes of the Emmy award winning TV series Get Smart ... okay, would you believe TWO Richard Donners?  By the way, look out for his incredible cameo performance in The Goonies as a cop on a quad-wheeled motorcycle near the end of the movie.

Movie
The story starts off with the local crime family, The Fratellis, helping to bust one of their own out of the local prison - a high speed car chase then ensues where we are introduced to each of the main characters as the vehicles zoom by them unknowingly.  The Goonies are a small band of close-knit buddies who live on the outskirts of the Goon Docks, but their homes are about to be "removed" by the local country club which is buying the properties from under them in order to make way for a new golf course.  Since these families are not made of money, they are unable to match the price being sought for the land on which their houses stand.  So as a result of this almost hopeless situation they have reluctantly succumbed to their fate, with The Goonies realising that soon they will never see each other again.

The "never-say-die" members of The Goonies alliance consist of:  Mikey (Sean Astin, Toy Soldiers); Brand (Josh Brolin, Hollow Man); Chunk (Jeff Cohen); Mouth (Corey Feldman, Stand By Me & The Lost Boys) and Data (Jonathan Ke Quan, Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom).  As the Goonies' adventure progresses, Andi (Kerri Green) and Stef (Martha Plimpton, Parenthood) unwittingly join with them and ultimately become certified Goonies themselves.

The father of Mikey and Brand is actually a curator for the local museum of which a lot of their superfluous archival material is stored up in his attic, which the kids decide to rumage through for one final fling together.  They soon discover a hidden map which claims to show the way to an almighty treasure trove on a ship that was captained by a pirate named One Eyed Willy - and guarded by some very clever "intruder deterrents" (ala Indiana Jones).

Everyone believes this to be an old-time hoax, except for Mikey who feels that this is something they should pursue to discover whether the legend is really true or not, purely for the sake of their family homes.  Along the way, the map reveals that they must venture into an old restaurant (which is later to be discovered as the secret hideout of the aforementioned Fratelli family) ... and thence begins a rollercoaster ride of adventure and danger that any kid would give their eye-teeth to be in.  The need to push on further and outsmart all the booby traps whilst having to outwit the Fratellis behind them drives this story along at a great pace.

(Trivia:  The word Fratelli means "brothers" in Italian, and there is a video game for the 8-bit Nintendo system which is actually labelled as the sequel to this movie).

Video
For a film this gone in years (not as many as in the map though) it has held up considerably well.  Since the majority of this movie is played either at night or in the dark cavernous depths, the need for a reliable image transfer is paramount - so the majority of this video presentation is very good but with some inevitable flaws.  I'm not actually docking points because of any fault on Warner Bros part, but the problems with this transfer are simply an inherent result of the lighting conditions that were used at the time of filming.  The blacks are quite deep with only a few sequences exhibiting an unavoidable glare from direct light sources, which are as good as they could ever be.  Ultimately there were two choices in how this could have been handled - lighter to enhance the limited detail available, or darker to retain the gloomy environment at the sacrifice of decipherable content - of course we get the latter every time.  The main objective here is to create a moody atmosphere.

Goonies, The
The colour scheme is quite varied depending on the environment that the filming took place in.  The scenes inside the living quarters are well balanced both in lighting and colouring, although it's nothing really striking.  The outdoor shots are improved upon slightly, however when the weather gets really stormy the colours start to dull significantly as do the basement settings in the restaurant which exhibit an intentional cold blue tone.  However things really pick up when we get into the caverns where a very warm (almost goldish) hue enriches everything from here on in.  Fleshtones are accurate to dull but never overdone.  There is virtually no grain or MPEG artifacts to speak of with hardly any dust or specks apparent in the entire viewing.  However the image all-round is a bit soft which ultimately shows its age (as if the fashions didn't do that already).  There is also a very brief and slight red colour bloom problem when Chunk is thrown into the ORV (or is that ROV?) at 49:26.

Audio
This is on equal footing with the video.  The English DD 5.1 remix keeps you occupied with all six speakers ready to pounce on you with its next scare tactic.  Actually, the dialogue in the centre channel tends to get lost in the dungeons a few times more than I'd care to put up with, which is really due to the limitations of the onset recording methods of the day, and it would have been nearly impossible to effectively ADR some of the more "chatty" sequences.  The subwoofer gets to blow the cobwebs off of itself every now and again with the many surprises in store for you.  The rear channels are used quite liberally with great split-surround activity as well as effective ambient noises for the quieter (more solemn) passages.

The alternate English DD 2.0 soundtrack isn't bad but it sure doesn't have the power of the 5.1 mix.  I can't be sure if this has been remastered or just lifted from its original 2-channel source, but it's a servicable soundtrack with just an odd canned quality to it that I haven't heard before or since.  The French DD 2.0 is equally servicable and the Spanish DD 1.0 is quite laughable as everyone sounds like that character in The Simpsons who dresses up in the Bumble-Bee outfit.

Extras
Please excuse the pun, but there is a veritable goldmine of supplemental material here.  Whilst it won't set the world on fire it's enough to please the fans of this classic kiddies adventure romp.

- The Animated Menus are entertaining and to the point, although they are probably considered old hat by now since they are already nearly two years old.  The one thing in its favour is that they play like a 2D comic-book with a bit of 3D thrown in.

- The Theatrical Trailer is presented in 1.78:1 and is as clear of any artifacts as the main feature itself, which is virtually unheard of even in the newest of film trailers.

- The Audio Commentary (with hidden treasures) feature goes way beyond what Ghostbusters or Men In Black had accomplished with the silhouetted talking heads in front of the film proper.  What we see is probably the first "inside look" at what goes into making an audio commentary, where a roving camera has been positioned in front of the "talking heads" as it were and we see the entire cast of the now grown-up children with Richard Donner talking about the film.  This video footage is brought into the full 16:9 screen with the movie inside a boxed window when the discussion needs further visual explanation, then the film is expanded back to full size again.  Apart from this very unique feature, the commentary itself is pure fun in that they basically laugh at how they did things in the old days.  One thing that doesn't make any sense is why Sean Astin suddenly leaves the room half way through and never returns - does anyone know what happened here?  It's best that you don't watch (listen) to this commentary until you're familiar with the movie.  Also, there is no access to any of the subtitles to act as an aid to the film's dialogue when desired.

- The Making Of The Goonies featurette is the original 1985 promo piece and is a funny insight into what it takes to get kids to do what you want them to do ... not easy, according to Donner!  The quality is abhorent by today's standards, but still watchable.

- The Outtakes (don't you mean Deleted Scenes ... yeah, that's what I just said!) are a welcome addition which just adds some character development that wasn't really needed for the story.  The last of these cut scenes is the infamous "Octopus Attack" squence which was a hopelessly lost cause in terms of execution ... you can see a reference to it in the Music Video too.

- The Music Video with Cyndi Lauper was filmed as a fun two-part cliffhanger for MTV which had more than its fair share of nonsense inherent.  All the kids from the movie join in on the antics, too.  I laughed when Ms. Lauper cried out to Spielberg:  "How Do I Get Out Of This One?".  This is in its original 4:3 image with the quality only as good as the 80s music videos were in those days.

Goonies, The
Summary
For those who love picking movies to bits (guess who) this is a trivia buff's dream (or nightmare).  There are many logical, continuity and all-out plot flaws that would usually relegate this type of film to the "one-hit wonder" pile, but The Goonies exhibits a certain charisma and wacky sense of adventure that still holds strong today (despite the 80s cheesiness).  In fact if you thought this movie was cheesy, wait until you see the Cyndi Lauper music video which shows a similar kind of plot in a 500% more gaudy setting than that of The Wedding Singer.

Now even though I don't agree with Warner Bros new R4 NTSC DVD policy, I do understand that the content of this DVD would have been virtually impossible to convert to PAL.  Indeed, the Video Commentary itself would have required a physical speedup of the original NTSC video to match the rate of the newly created PAL film transfer, which unfortunately would have produced some mega-artifacts that would have been quite unforgivable.  It was either that or convert every NTSC source (including the movie) into PAL - which is not an option I'd even want to consider.

Basically, if you've been holding off importing the R1 DVD because of the terrible exchange rate of the dollar, you can now buy exactly the same product here in R4.  If you're like me and you haven't seen this movie before, rent the DVD to see what you're missing.


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