Release Date(s)1985 (September 1, 2020)
Studio(s)Amblin Entertainment/Warner Bros. Pictures (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
If you were between the ages of 8 and 15 when Richard Donner’s The Goonies was released theatrically back in 1985, you probably remember it very fondly. If you fall outside that age range, however, you may have overlooked it. For a variety of reasons, this story of a group of poor kids who find an old pirate map—and subsequently launch a last-ditch treasure hunt to save their coastal Astoria, Oregon homes from foreclosure (in an area known as “the Goon Docks,” hence the title)—falls just a little short of the intended mark.
You do have to admire Donner for attempting to elevate The Goonies above the usual hormone-fueled, teen-angsty fare of the time, however, and for targeting a younger audience. The film includes early or first performances by Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, and Corey Feldman among others, and the cast is likeable to be sure. But the young performers weren’t quite up to the challenge of carrying the snappy, more adult style of witty banter they were asked to perform. In any case, there are many clever touches, not to mention Rube Goldberg production design, and the script by Chris Columbus (from a story by Steven Spielberg) has more than its share of charms.
The Goonies was shot on 35 mm photochemical film using Panavision cameras and anamorphic lenses. It was finished on film at the 2.39:1 aspect ratio for theatrical exhibition. For its 35th anniversary Ultra HD release, Warner has scanned the original camera negative in 4K to create a new Digital Intermediate and graded the color for high dynamic range (available here in HDR10). The resulting image is very good looking overall. Fine detail and surface texturing are strong—and pretty dramatically improved over the previous Blu-ray—save for some of the opticals and occasional shots exhibiting soft focus (or anamorphic softness around the edges of the frame). Film grain is light-medium and organic looking. Colors are accurate and bit more vivid, with added 10-bit nuance. The expanded contrast offers deep black shadows with enhanced detail in most shots, though occasionally they look a little gray. Highlights are bolder, which is especially effective given the film’s exterior overcast skies (not to mention lantern light, water reflections, and the aforementioned treasure). All in all, this is a nice presentation that certainly represents the film looking better than ever.
The 4K disc includes a lossless English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio encode that’s improved yet similar in quality to the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD mix found on the previous 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release from 2010. The soundstage is big and wide across the front, with the surrounds used mostly for music and atmospheric fill. There are some nice panning and directional effects, but they tend to be more subtle. Dialogue is clean and clear, while the music and score are presented with excellent fidelity. The overall tonal quality is full, with a solid foundation of low end, though the mix still retains much of its original stereo character. Additional audio options include French, Italian, Castilian Spanish, Dutch, and Czech 2.0 Dolby Digital, as well as Latin Spanish 2.0 mono Dolby Digital. Subtitles are available in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, French, Italian for the Deaf, Castilian Spanish, Dutch, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Latin Spanish, Czech, Romanian, and Thai.
There are no extras on the 4K disc itself, though the package also includes 2010 Blu-ray release. (Note that this disc is definitely not mastered from the new 4K scan.) It adds the following special features:
- Hidden Treasures Viewing Mode (featuring “pop-up” video clips in SD)
- Audio Comentary with Richard Donner and the Cast
- The Making of The Goonies (SD – 6:49)
- Deleted Scenes (SD – 3 scenes – 6:53 in all)
- Cyndi Lauper’s The Goonies “R” Good Enough Music Video (SD – 12:04)
- Theatrical Trailer (SD – 2:41)
There are no new features, but the package does at least include a Digital Copy code on a paper insert.
When watching The Goonies again after all these years, don’t be surprised if it’s not quite as good as you might have remembered. Still, the film has more than enough clever and genuine moments to make for an enjoyable afternoon’s viewing. And Warner’s new 4K release offers a significant image quality upgrade. It’s therefore recommended, specifically for diehard fans.
- Bill Hunt