Poor Roger Moore. He does get a bit of a bum rap when it comes to James Bond movies, but I think that in terms of the character, he actually fits the jacket, Walther PPK and shaken martinis fairly well, but the problem for his work was that it faced a lot of new technology, and thus was subjected to a lot of ridicule as a result. New things like walking in space and the computer revolution were given a tongue in cheek look, and in between this and the visual effects simply not catching up to the imaginations, then sure, some of the films look and feel a bit silly.
Take the case of A View to a Kill. The film was Moore’s seventh (and last) as Bond, and he already had one foot out the door when he made Octopussy. But in this one, Moore may have stuck around a little too long. By my math, he was approaching 60 at the time the film was released to theaters, and seeing him with a Bond girl like Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts, Sheena) really wasn’t all that believable anymore. The story itself surrounded a microchip that was purchased by a fanatic named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter), who apparently was genetically enhanced somehow or was a descendant of a elite German during World War II.
It doesn’t necessarily start that way. In fact, the storyline initially starts of, about genetic enhancements, was a little more intriguing than the principal story. Roberts plays the daughter of a businessman that Zorin bought out (or killed). In the assassin with a cool name of May Day, you can find Grace Jones (Boomerang) as a tough gal, one who could kick butt and take names, but falls in love with the AARP aged Bond. Patrick Macnee (The Avengers) was cast in a nice supporting role as Bond’s undercover assistant, but when he left, a part of me left too.
The performances themselves are either wooden or lackadaisical, with Walken being the only one who seems to put enough effort into it. But as the producers had wanted (and were unable to land) Pierce Brosnan even at this early stage, it’s clear that Moore’s heart just wasn’t into this last effort, and he seems glad to be done with it. And at this point, so were we.
The restored 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation of A View to a Kill appears to be a little on the overtweaked side. Jetting away the Special Edition awhile ago and using DVDTimes as a reference, it appears that flesh tones are a little on the red side, but overall the image is pretty clear and still as soft as ever.
The DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks are the options to choose from here. There’s strong surround activity, including an impressive display during the Eiffel Tower sequence. Panning is frequent, the low end is picked up on a subwoofer when it needs to, and I’d even dare say it’s one of the better sounding Bond films I’ve heard to this point.
The commentary from the last edition of the film has been retained for this one, which serves as more of a director’s commentary from John Glen and assorted members of the cast and crew. Moore also pitches in on a commentary track on his own. As I’ve talked about before on the Moore Bond films (and as he stipulates on the beginning of these discs), it’s more of a conversation than a reminiscing. If you want to know about a particular scene, you might be out of luck, but if you want to know how hard it was to walk down the Eiffel Tower, it’s covered here. Oh, and only Moore can throw in a connection to Married With Children on his track, which should give you an idea of how conversational this is.
Moving onto Disc Two, the “Declassified: MI6 Vault” might have some new stuff, but what’s here is fairly barren. Some test footage of the “butterflies” that Grace Jones used starts things off, followed by an on set featurette on the making of the film. Quick hits on the girls, locations and legacy of the franchise are touched on, along with some of the stunts in it.
Next is a bit called “The Streets of San Francisco“, which is three minutes of Glen recalling the stunts in the city, accompanied by some stunt footage on set. There are eight deleted and extended scenes that run about 13 minutes total, each of which include and introduction by Glen and does not have a “Play All” function. Most of the scenes are pretty bland, almost shoddy, though there’s one protest scene which could have been a harmless inclusion. Glen’s recollections are pretty vivid though, with shooting dates and the reasons the scenes were cut.
The “007 Mission Control” section is the usual interactive look at the girls, bad guys and other things that Bond films are noted for, while the “Mission Dossier” starts first with the old making of look at the film. This one is different in the sense that Patrick Macnee isn’t narrating it, but the near-40 minute documentary covers a lot of the same ground that similar making of featurettes have. Moore provides his usual two cents during the part, and Roberts appears for a semi-new interview, while Walken unfortunately doesn’t. However, the stunts of the film are broken down and explained a little bit, while Glen, longtime Bond crewmember Peter Lamont and other crew members recalling their unique parts of the film, along with the fire that engulfed the Bond Pinewood studios when the production was about to start. The Eiffel Tower stunt is given extensive coverage with good reason, and the Paris car stunts are also given some coverage as well. A lot of the San Francisco shoot is given some press too, and the stunts that were performed. The rebuilt studios are opened and there’s some coverage spent on that, and Moore’s departure neatly wraps up the package. It’s certainly well worth the time.
“The Bond Sound” is a look at the music from the films that runs about twenty minutes and shows all the songs from Carly Simon, John Barry, Duran Duran, Shirley Bassey, you name it. And older singers like Bassey, Carly Simon and Nancy Sinatra recall their first time singing the songs in the film too, which is pretty cool. The evolution of the score through the years is nice to listen to also, and covers most of the films all the way through The World is Not Enough. And if you really want kitschy, watch the Duran Duran music video for the song that shares the name of the film. The “Ministry of Propaganda” section includes three trailers and four TV spots, and the “Image Database” section is where all the pictures are.
A View to a Kill includes some nice bonus features and a mighty impressive DTS track, but no matter how much you polish it, a turd is still a turd. It’s one of the weakest entries in the Bond franchise, placing it in a dead heat with its outer space twin Moonraker. Pass on by this one, even if it’s in a boxed set.