The Goonies

The Goonies (1985)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Joe Pantoliano, Sean Astin
Extras: Commentary Track, Making Of Featurette, Cyndi Lauper Music Videos, Deleted Scenes

A fan-favorite and a late arrival on DVD, Richard Donner’s "The Goonies" is finally making its DVD debut as a promising Special Edition. Being almost a classic of the 80s, certainly this film deserves nothing but the best, and considering the Steven Spielberg held back this gem for a long time makes you expect nothing but the best. No wonder I was eager to check out this release when it landed on my desk and filled with anticipation I gave this disc from Warner Home Video a thorough check-up.

A group of suburban children are desperate for some adventure. Riding bikes and watching TV just doesn’t cut it any more, so while going through long forgotten stuff in the attic, they find a map – the map to a hidden treasure of One-Eyed Willie, a mysterious pirate. Smelling the adventure of a lifetime, they immediately set afoot to uncover the treasure and find themselves in a rambunctious adventure that is no mere child’s play. Chased by criminals, exploring underground tunnels larded with deadly boobie traps they slowly make their way towards their goal – to find the hidden pirate ship with all its treasures.

Full of funny moments and great action, "The Goonies" is a film you have to fall in love with. It is an adolescent dream come to life, filled with all the elements that make up a young boy’s (and girl’s?) imagination. Treasures, pirates, traps, danger, monsters, fear – you name it; all the bases are covered.
But "The Goonies" also has a very sumptuous visual style, which makes it very appealing. Shot in <$PS,widescreen> and making conscious use of the wide framing, the image is beautifully composed at any time. Elaborate details in the background, haunting lighting and cool set pieces set this film apart from most other comparable fare. The acting is good throughout – given the age of the cast, especially – and there are some truly terse and touching moments in the film, full of emotion and suspended disbelief. In a word, "The Goonies" is a great and wildly entertaining film!

Warner Home Video is releasing "The Goonies" in a beautiful <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> transfer on this Special Edition DVD. Correctly framed at the movie’s 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, the presentation has a richness and a level of detail that is beautiful to behold. The print is free of defects and no scratches or speckles mar the film, and without noise or other problems, it guarantees a clean and clear presentation. Colors are beautifully rendered, bringing the atmospheric imagery of the movie to beautiful live with strong hues. The colors are never oversaturated though, and always render a natural-looking image that is firmly rooted. Blacks are deep and solid while the shadows are perfectly delineated, maintaining their detail without dot crawl, grain or pixel break-up. The transfer is free of edge-enhancement, creating an image that is free of ringing artifacts, resulting in a very silky, film-like look. The compression is equally impressive without introducing distracting compression artifacts.

"The Goonies" comes with a variety of audio tracks, lead by a beautiful <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> remix. <$DS,Dolby Surround> tracks in English and French and a Spanish mono track are also part of the release. The 5.1 remix is highly directional making very good use of the entire speaker set-up. Active surround usage creates an immersive surround field and a solid sonic spread in the front creates a wide sound stage that makes "The Goonies" a wonderful experience. The frequency response is very good, reproducing the highest end of the spectrum without hiss, distortion or sibilance, while giving the lower end a dynamic and powerful extension. The overall dynamics of the track are also very good, making it possible to distinguish even the most subtle arrangement in the string section during low volume scenes, but at the same time leaving plenty of headroom to make a powerful impact during the high volume moments.
Dialogues are extremely well integrated and remain understandable at all times, without ever being drowned out by the music or the sound effects. The disc also contains subtitles in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

The DVD also contains a <$commentary,commentary track>, featuring director Richard Donner along with all seven Goonies – who have matured quite a bit. At certain points in the commentary, the DVD switches to a video feed of the recording session, showing us the participants while the film continues to run in a separate window. The commentary is entertaining, although only marginally informative in technical terms. While the participants are eager to share anecdotes about the making of the film and reminisce about their pranks and problems on the set, little to nothing is revealed in terms of how the film was actually made – apart from a few references to stunt scenes and more or less "dangerous" moments. The balance of showing the film versus the commentators is good, especially since watching commentators while they are watching a movie is not exactly exciting material. It’s great to get a glimpse at them here and there, but like in this case, that should be it.

The DVD also contains the original 7-minute "Making Of" promo featurette that was produced when the film was originally released. Featuring some interviews and lots of behind-the-scenes footage, the featurette is an exciting addition that gives viewers a glimpse at how hard it must have been to coordinate and wrangle a bunch of seven rascals to make a big budget movie such as this. While again it does not reveal any technical information, it is an entertaining segment well worth watching.

The DVD also contains outtakes, three deleted scenes, which are assembled together, including the infamous Octopus scene. Upon watching them it is obvious why they have been deleted. The octopus scene doesn’t work and borders on the ridiculous, while the other scenes don’t add anything to the film. Still, they are fun to see and certainly make a great addition to the disc.

Cyndi Lauper’s music videos for "Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough" can also be found on the DVD, completing the nostalgia effect of the release. Presented in two separate music videos, this is one of those a rare videos that go beyond the typical song ’n’ dance approach. It is basically a 12-minute "Goonies" short film with musical interludes, featuring Cyndi Lauper, Steven Spielberg, Andre The Giant, "Rowdy" Roddie Piper and the principal cast of "The Goonies" as well as sets and props from the film, larded with footage from the actual movie. It is a fun romp and since chances are you haven’t seen it in 15 years or more, this is a phenomenal time-capsule addition to the DVD. Don’t miss to check this extra out, even if you typically don’t care much for music videos.
The movie’s theatrical trailer in <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> and a static list of cast and crew members rounds out this great release.

"The Goonies" is a great adventure movie for children and grown-ups alike and this DVD makes watching it more fun than ever. In a beautiful presentation with great video and audio, this DVD is a gem. The supplements are entertaining and clearly targeted at average viewers, which is absolutely appropriate for this particular release. With this release, Warner Home Video once again stresses how astute the studio is in providing top-notch DVD releases, so don’t miss your chance to relive "The Goonies."